Something new for me – tempering chocolate! Tempering chocolate has been always a bit intimidating, especially as I don’t have tons of counter space to start folding chocolate over and over on a marble slab. The reason that one would temper chocolate is that it allows the finished chocolate to set at room temperature and does not need to be refrigerated in order to stay firm. It also gives the chocolate a nice snap when you bite into it.
This week I was asked to make something chocolatey for dessert at a friend’s house. I saw a recipe for banana truffles online and I decided to try it. It was meant to be a ganache mixed with mashed bananas which are then dipped in tempered chocolate to form a hard shell. In order to change it up, I caramelized the banana before I mashed it in with the chocolate ganache. I have to say that the banana flavor was not at all discernible. I was hoping that it would taste all bananas-foster-y but that didn’t happen. Oh well.
I decided to use a truffle mold that I had bought years ago. It has been sitting in a drawer since the day I bought it, except when the Little Rocker took it out to play with.
Then I searched the annals of Google for the best way to temper chocolate. I wanted to use the seed method which basically means that you melt half of the chocolate and then slowly add some of the non-melted chocolate in and mix really well. The non-melted chocolate helps the melted chocolate form a crystalline structure and reach proper temper.
Making the truffles was a pretty hands-on, and I learned a few things about the process. Here is what I should have done, instead of what I did. I should have used a paintbrush to brush the chocolate onto the sides and bottom of the truffle molds in order to leave a perfect thin layer of chocolate all around the edges. Then, when that chocolate hardened, put in the ganache filling and then pour more tempered chocolate over the ganache to fill in the mold. But I figured that people would not want chocolates flavored by the Little Rocker’s paints, so I had to improvise. Instead, I just dripped in chocolate from a spoon and used the ganache to kind of push the chocolate all around the edges. A lot of the truffles ended up with gaps along the sides and were not so beautiful looking.
I used really good 60 percent cacao dark chocolate to make the truffles because they always say to use quality chocolate when you want the flavor to stand out. So since I had been asked to make food for chocolate lovers, I wanted a strong tasting dark chocolate flavor. The one complaint that Rocker Dude had was that the chocolate flavor was too strong and rich, the irony.
Speaking of Rocker Dude, he just celebrated the fifth anniversary of his radio show last week. Yay Rocker Dude! Check out the show at http://www.rock4rookies.com.
The one thing about this recipe is that it is super time consuming. It was a good thing that I didn’t have too much else to make for Shabbat because I spent a lot of time on these chocolates. Rocker Dude was lucky that we had no guests for Friday night because I got to make him steak for dinner! It was the first time that I have ever made steak and it turned out really good. I personally don’t like steak that much (I usually order chicken at restaurants), but Rocker Dude loves steak. So I consulted the all-knowing Google once more to figure out how one actually cooks a steak. I went simple and just pan seared the steaks until they were almost medium, as I would have to keep them warm for a couple of hours before we would be able to eat them. It worked out really well, and the steaks were moist and juicy and went great with the mashed potatoes.
But back to the chocolate. Here is the recipe, based on the one from Love & Olive Oil.
6 oz. dark chocolate, finely chopped
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 1/2 ripe bananas, sliced
2 tbsp. brown sugar
2 tbsp. butter or margarine
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
8 oz. dark chocolate, finely chopped
2 tbsp. butter or margarine
Warm the cream until it is steaming, and then pour it over the chocolate and stir until the chocolate melts completely and the ganache is smooth. Melt the margarine in a frying pan and add the brown sugar. When the margarine is completely melted, lay the banana slices in the frying pan in a single layer. After two minutes, flip the banana slices over and caramelize the other side. When they are done, mash the bananas and place them, the ganache and the vanilla into a food processor and pulse until completely blended. Put the ganache in a container and refrigerate for at least four hours or overnight.
You need to do the chocolate coating in two stages. To temper the chocolate, melt two ounces of the dark chocolate and half of the margarine. Then slowly add two ounces of the non-melted chocolate while mixing vigorously. Keep mixing until the chocolate cools slightly. Then take a paintbrush (one that has not been used for paint), and paint the cups of the truffle mold so that all the sides and bottom are completely covered with chocolate. When that has hardened, take some firm ganache and put it into the molds. Temper the rest of the chocolate the same way and fill the molds completely. Quickly take an offset spatula and scrape the tops of the molds so that they are smooth. After a few minutes, the chocolate will have hardened and you can remove them. If the chocolate has been properly tempered, then you won’t need to refrigerate the truffles. If they start getting soft, then the chocolate was not properly tempered and needs to be kept cold in order to stay firm. Enjoy!