Category Archives: truffles

White Chocolate Lavender and Lemon Truffles

Lavender and lemon are classic French flavors. Moreover, the scent of lavender was found to be an aphrodisiac so it makes it super fitting for a baby shower. The addition of the sugared flowers to the tops of the truffles makes them look 100% professional. They add a nice crunch as well.

White Chocolate Lavender and Lemon Truffles

1 1/2 cups heavy cream
1 tablespoon dried lavender flowers
peal of one lemon, only the yellow part
¼ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon lemon extract
2 ½ pounds white chocolate
1/2 pound semi sweet chocolate
candied flowers, for garnish

In a small heavy bottom sauce pan, heat the cream, lavender an lemon peal. Bring the cream just to scalding. Turn off the heat and let the flavors steep for at least 30 minutes. Strain out the lemon and lavender.

Chop the white chocolate into small chunks. Place it into a large metal bowl. Add the cream, extract and salt. Place the chocolate bowl over a pot filled with water on medium heat. Let the chocolate steam over the water for at least 10 minutes. Using a whisk, once the chocolate is melted, start in the center of the bowl and slowly whisk to combine into a silky ganache. Remove the chocolate from the heat and let to cool to room temperature.

Using two teaspoons, spoon out balls of ganache onto baking trays lined with parchment paper. Roll the balls into globes with your hands. If your hands are super warm like mine are, or if your ganache is still too soft, place the trays in the refrigerator for 30 minutes to firm up the confections.

Chop the semi sweet chocolate and place it into a medium size metal bowl. Place it over a pot of water on medium high heat, stirring with a rubber spatula intermittently. Let the chocolate melt completely. Pick up some of the melted chocolate with the spatula; drop it back into the pool of chocolate. If the falling chocolate sinks into the rest of the melted chocolate the temper is broken. If it still piled up on top of the surface, continue to heat the chocolate. Once the chocolate is fully melted, move the medium size bowl into a larger metal bowl that is a quarter full of ice and cold water. Continue to mix the chocolate, paying special attention to mix in the hardening chocolate that is sticking to the sides of the bowl. Test the chocolate to see if the temper has returned, life some of the melted chocolate out of the bowl and drizzle it back into the pool of melted chocolate. Once the temper has returned, the chocolate will stack up on itself as opposed to sinking back into the bowl.

Drop the ganache balls into the melted chocolate. Roll them to coat and extract them using two small spoons. Place the coated truffles onto the parchment paper. Once you have finished dipping the truffles, break up the sugared flowers into nice size petals. Place a small bit of melted chocolate on top of each truffle and use it to affix one petal. Cool the finished truffles in the refrigerator. Store the truffles in an airtight container until ready to serve.

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Bacon Truffles

I’ve always been a fan of salty sweet things. First it started with salty caramel then salt and chocolate. Last year something really interesting appeared at my local Vosges chocolate shop here in Soho: bacon and chocolate. It was good, but not amazing. I knew it could be better. So for this holiday season, instead of buying gifts, I decided to make a NYC delicacy and bring it back to DC for my family and friends, bacon truffles. It is important to get smoky bacon; it adds a much better depth of flavor. I choose a hickory smoked bacon but you could use apple wood smoked bacon as well. I also buy my chocolate in blocks from the specialty section of WholeFoods. High quality chocolate is what makes truffles so luxurious.

Bacon Truffles
2 12oz packages of hickory smoked bacon
2 ½ pounds great quality semi sweet chocolate
1 cup heavy cream
1 teaspoon salt
1 pound semi sweet chocolate

The first step is to render the fat off of the bacon and make it into bacon bits for the final garnish. Chop the bacon into very fine pieces and cook it in a heavy pan on medium high heat. Stir the bacon intermittently to make sure that it browns and crisps easily. Once the bacon starts to get close to a dark red color and looks crispy, remove it to a dish lined with several paper towels. The bacon will continue to cook once it is removed, so make sure you remove it early enough so that it doesn’t burn as it cools. Set aside 1/3 cup of the bacon fat, without any bacon bits.

Chop the chocolate into small chunks. Place it into a large metal bowl. Add the cream, fat and salt. Place the chocolate bowl over a pot filled with water on medium heat. Let the chocolate steam over the water for at least 10 minutes. Using a whisk, once the chocolate is melted, start in the center of the bowl and slowly whisk to combine into a silky ganache. Remove the chocolate from the heat and let to cool to room temperature.

Using two teaspoons, spoon out balls of ganache onto baking trays lined with parchment paper. Roll the balls into globes with your hands. If your hands are super warm like mine are, or if your ganache is still too soft, place the trays in the refrigerator for 30 minutes to firm up the confections.

Chop the last block of chocolate and place it into a medium size metal bowl. Place it over a pot of water on medium high heat, stirring with a rubber spatula intermittently. Let the chocolate melt completely. Pick up some of the melted chocolate with the spatula; drop it back into the pool of chocolate. If the falling chocolate sinks into the rest of the melted chocolate the temper is broken. If it still piled up on top of the surface, continue to heat the chocolate. Once the chocolate is fully melted, move the medium size bowl into a larger metal bowl that is a quarter full of ice and cold water. Continue to mix the chocolate, paying special attention to mix in the hardening chocolate that is sticking to the sides of the bowl. Test the chocolate to see if the temper has returned, life some of the melted chocolate out of the bowl and drizzle it back into the pool of melted chocolate. Once the temper has returned, the chocolate will stack up on itself as opposed to sinking back into the bowl.

Drop the ganache balls into the melted chocolate. Roll them to coat and extract them using two small spoons. Place the coated truffles onto the parchment paper and sprinkle with a healthy amount of the bacon pits. If you really love bacon, roll the chocolates into the bacon to coat completely. Cool the finished truffles in the refrigerator. Store the truffles in an air tight container until ready to serve.

French with a Vietnamese Twist

My friends Sabrina, Sean and Dave and I have a new tradition of cooking Sunday dinner together. We collaborate (guys vs. girls) and take turns taking the lead. This weekend I was in charge. I had 4 duck breasts in my freezer that where begging to be eaten.

I love to cook French. I’m probably the best at making French and Cajon foods. For some reason I really embody the flavor combinations. But lately I’ve been obsessed with Vietnamese. I guess its homesickness, since I have not seen my mom in a while and I miss all of her cooking (yes she is Vietnamese). So I wanted to make a fusion Vietnamese and French duck.

At first I was going to serve the duck over rice with asparagus on the side. But I felt that white rice was just too boring. Plus Sabrina wanted to make rice pudding for desert, so potatoes where the natural choice. Have you ever had the duck confit at Les Hales restaurant? I’ve had it at both the DC location and the downtown NYC location. At the DC location it came with an amazing side of oven roasted cubed potatoes with truffles and frisée, sort of a salad. First heat the oven to 500 degrees. It is essential to have a hot oven for roasting potatoes. I cut about 10 small red potatoes into 1/4in cubes. (Yes this took a long time, about a half an hour but the oven was nice and hot afterwards.) Toss them with salt, pepper, minced garlic, thyme and olive oil. Place them on the middle rack in the oven. Wash your bunch of frisée, tear it into more bit size pieces and leave it to dry. Mix up a quick dressing for the salad. I added two tablespoons of large grain Dijon mustard to a tiny bit of balsamic dressing, but you could easily make the dressing from scratch with olive oil, red wine vinegar, shallots, salt and pepper. After 30 minutes, give your potatoes a toss and sprinkle them with a few generous tablespoons of truffle oil. Put them back in the oven for 30 minutes. Pull the potatoes out to cool, they will be nice and crispy brown. After letting them sit for 15 minutes, it should be easier to scrape them off of the bottom of the dish. Toss the potatoes with the frisée and the dressing. If you are feeling decadent, shave a black truffle into the mixture before you toss.

The critical aspect was the sauce. I basically combined two classic sauces from both cuisines. Caramelized black pepper pork is a staple Vietnamese dish and the French love a good green peppercorn cream sauce. So I combined both! Go ahead and start to make the sauce when you put the potatoes into the oven.

First off I marinated my duck breasts in a healthy amount of fish sauce. Then I started working on the sauce. Chop up half of a Vidalia onion or else 3 shallots… which ever you have on hand. In a heavy saucepan, put about 1/3 a cup of sugar on medium heat. Just let it sit there, as the sugar will turn a golden brown. If your pan is not heating evenly, you can swirl the unmelted sugar into the browning sugar. Be careful not to get it too dark or let it burn. Pull it off the heat and let it cool a tiny bit. Pour in a few tablespoons of fish sauce, it should bubble in the molten sugar. Ad about a cup of half and half, the shallots and a few tablespoons of green peppercorns (discard the brine if you have jarred peppercorns). Heat this on the stove, stirring with a wooden spoon until the sugar is dissolved from the bottom of the pot. Now let the sauce cook on medium till it gets thicker and reduces. Taste the sauce to make sure it tastes rich, not too sweet and is salty enough. It helps to squish the peppercorns with the back of the spoon to release some of their flavor.

Cooking the duck breast is really easy. Heat a heavy non-stick skillet on the stove top, on medium-high. A cast iron skillet works really well. Place the breasts in the pan skin side down. After 7 minutes check to see that the skin is caramelizing nicely. Once the skin is a golden brown, flip the breast (there will be tons of fat in the pan from the melting fat under the skin) and place a thermometer into one of them, at the thickest part, from the side for maximum surface area. Once the breasts hit 150 degrees, turn the heat off and let the breasts slowly reach 165. Once they hit that, move the breasts to a cutting board to rest for 5 minutes and then slice them.

Sabrina quickly balanced some asparagus and then tossed them in a quick garlic lemon zest butter.

To plate, heap on a generous portion of the potatoes, neatly lay out some asparagus spears and fan out several pieces of the breast. Spoon two generous tablespoons of the sauce over the breasts and serve with a good French style pinot noir.