Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Chocolate Truffles (Vegan!)

I have had it in my head to make a gluten free and vegan chocolate truffle with coconut milk for a while. Apparently there are others out there who feel the same stroke of genius as well... see vegan chocolate truffle recipe.

That said, I set out to embark on my own truffle making endeavor. Since the even became comical, I will take you step-by-step through the process so that you can laugh at my folly, but hopefully I will make these again and formulate a concise recipe.

8.84 oz. dark chocolate (85%)
1/4 cup of sugar
3/4 cup coconut milk
pinch of salt
2 tbsp vanilla extract
plus more sugar and coconut milk
plus dark chocolate for dipping
2 tbsp cocoa powder for rolling
1 tbsp coconut flour for rolling
1 tbsp powdered sugar for rolling

Tools: heavy bottom sauce pan, 2 glass bowls, cookie sheets, parchment paper, rubber spatula, rounded table spoon, small metal spoon

1. Heat the coconut milk, salt and sugar in a sauce pan over medium high heat.
2. Place the chocolate in a separate glass bowl.
3. Once the coconut milk comes to a boil, pour over chocolate and stir.
Not all of the chocolate melted so I...
4. Place the bowl of chocolate over a double boiler on low and kept stirring until chocolate was well incorporated.
5. Stir in the vanilla extract.

*This is the point where I tasted the truffles and they were really really bitter, so I knew they needed more sugar. I made slow additions of sugar melted in coconut milk.
First I added:
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup coconut milk
It still wasn't enough, so I added:
2-3 tbsp coconut milk
3-4 tbsp sugar
This ganache still tasted a bit sour, but I was afraid if I added any more fat it would not set up, so I stopped.

6. Put the ganache in the refrigerator to set up.
(After an hour of it not cooling sufficiently, I took the advice of the author vegan recipe posted above and through it into the freezer.)
7. After a few hours in the freezer, the ganache has set up (the glass bowl is cold all the way around), and its time to roll. Using a rounded tablespoon, portion out each of the truffles and place on a parchment lined cookie sheet. Do not worry about forming them into balls, just portion them into blobs.
8. Place the cookie sheets with portioned truffles into the fridge for 30 minutes to set up. (Its easier to work cold ganache than warm, which will stick to your hands.)
9. Melt dark chocolate for dipping. (I used approximately 2 bars, but to be fair, I mixed a few different types, using up odds and ends I had in my pantry.)

*Melting chocolate is tricky because for the nice shiny finish and a good snap, the chocolate needs to be in temper. Tempering chocolate is the act of raising and lowering the chocolate's temperature to get all of the chocolate crystals in the same formation. This is important because if chocolate is not in temper, it can bloom - the act of cocoa butter separating and coming to the surface of the chocolate causing the outside to look powdery and discolored - and the final chocolate will not have a nice snap or shiny exterior.

I do not have a food-grade marble slab for working chocolate, nor a chocolate tempering machine, nor the patience for hand tempering at home... so I employed the "don't get the tempered chocolate out of temper" method of just barely heating the chocolate enough that it melts, but not hot enough that it goes above 91F, where it could be at risk of getting out of temper.

To do this, I grated all the chocolate as uniformly as possible and placed it in a glass bowl. I placed the bowl in the microwave for 20 seconds, removed and stirred with a rubber spatula. I then put it back in the microwave for 10 seconds, removed and stirred and continued the process until most of the chocolate had melted. Towards the end, I put it in the microwave for 5 seconds at a time, and was very careful to scrape down the sides and mix well between heating sessions.
This sounds like a lot of work, but its a lot less work than hand tempering - trust me.

10. With the melted chocolate ready, remove the cookie sheets from the refrigerator. Quickly roll the blobs into balls and place back on cold cookie sheet. Once the balls are formed - they do not have to be perfectly round - you are ready to dip.
11. Dip the rubber spatula into the melted chocolate, then allow the excess to drain off. Place 1 truffle on the spatula. Dip a small spoon into the melted chocolate, allow the excess to drain off and then use that spoon to roll the truffle around the spatula, coating each side.
12. Push off most of the excess chocolate off the spatula and use the spoon to push the truffle off onto a clean piece of parchment or into cocoa powder or coconut flour mixture to coat.
13. If you are rolling the truffle, gently toss in coating and then allow it to rest for a minute before placing it on a clean peace of parchment to set up.

Chocolate dipped:

Dipped & rolled in coconut flour & powdered sugar:

Dipped & rolled in cocoa powder:

Overall, these turned out better than I expected. Some of the chocolate dipped ones did start oozing a bit - the middles pushed through the chocolate shell. Some of the cocoa powder dipped ones completely collapsed the next day. So if I made these again I would either make a firmer ganache (less fat added to the chocolate) and/or I would dip the truffles a second time in chocolate to give them a firmer shell.
A friend also suggested using a fork to transfer the truffles from dipping to drying area, which would help decrease the excess chocolate on the bottoms or "feet."

Overall, this recipe needs some work but was delicious. With the exception of the coconut dusted truffle, they did not taste like coconut and were rich, creamy and much to my surprise the chocolate stayed in temper!
I will be making these again.

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