They say that the gift of food is a gift from the heart. This theory drives me every holiday season to create something delicious. Go big or go home is my motto when it comes to making holiday foods to give away. After all, I have lots of customers and friends that share my love of great food so I never have any leftovers at the end of the season. Over the years I have tackled such delights as making dozens of jars of spicy Giardniera- a recipe I got from an old Italian cook in Chicago, who taught me how to make it old school. It’s a mix of pickled vegetables in olive oil. I laced mine with crushed red pepper for that extra kick.
Then there was the year I closed my restaurant and found myself with a case of kosher salt and lots of dried herbs. I turned those into flavored salts for sprinkling. This year it was chocolate truffles. My good friend Jasmine who lives in the Twin Cities partnered with me on this venture. We have had successful canning episodes in the past, so we thought we would give it a shot to make at least 300 pieces of chocolates that would melt in your mouth for our lucky friends.
We made Espresso, Gran Marnier, Almond and Coconut White Chocolate
My friend and professional chocolate truffle maker Heidi Ash of 185 Chocolat warned me that chocolate can be a cruel mistress. During my 2 day production I did think that at times, but it also can be delightful to work with. We were going for taste, which was a good thing because some of our chocolates looked, well, homemade..But, nothing a little powdered chocolate could not fix.
Gran Marnier Truffles
8 oz Semisweet chocolate chopped fine
1/2 cup whipping cream
1/8 cup Gran Marnier, Triple Sec or Orange Brandy
1/2 cup Diced Candied Orange Peel
1 lb semisweet chocolate for decoration
Bring cream just to a boil in a heavy saucepan, remove from heat.
Beat chocolate into cream using a whisk, beat until smooth.
Beat in liqueur and orange peel until well blended
Chill until firm – 3 hours or overnight
Scoop with tiny melon ball cutter and place on parchment lined paper.
Put back into the fridge or cold room.
In the meantime, melt the chocolate in the tempering machine, following manufacturers directions. Bring truffle fillings out and let them come to room temp before dipping.
Some tips I learned along the way-
Only use high quality chocolate for dipping. Inexpensive chocolate does not melt as well.
Be very careful not to let your chocolate get above 90 degrees.
Water is the enemy-Don’t let any water get anywhere near the chocolate mix, it will seize up and you have to start over.
Keep the finished product in a cool, dry place. They can also be frozen.