Ganache Truffles

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.

Chocolate Ganache Truffles
Chocolate Ganache Truffles

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.

Bananas sliced for caramelizing.
Bananas sliced for caramelizing.

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.

Truffles!
Truffles!

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.

Recipe:

Ganache:
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

Chocolate Coating:
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!

Hello World! And a “healthier” option

Hello peeps!  Remember me?  So it’s been like, I don’t know, 8 months or so since my last post.  All was going well until routine blood work showed high sugar (you can only guess where that came from).  So after my mom scared me with insulin dependence I put a full stop to baking.  Nada, nothing at all.  And here we are – 25 pounds lighter with a better appreciation of how much I should eat versus how much I want to eat.

Not to say that I was unaware of what was healthy and unhealthy before, you couldn’t grow up in my house and not know (my mom swears by whole wheat and eats oatmeal for breakfast everyday – anything else is too sweet or salty), I just didn’t care.  Young people think they will live forever right?

For a while, I thought about making this blog into a sugar-free or low glycemic index blog until I came to the realization that  baking without sugar is just not worth it.  Sometimes I wonder whether people who say that healthy baked goods are delicious, are just saying it and don’t actually believe it.  Though, truth be told, I made Rocker Dude’s favorite cinnamon swirl cookies with Splenda and they came out delicious (really!).

I can’t promise that I will keep up a regular correspondence with you, world, but I will do my best and hope to post more delish things on a steady basis.

I was catching up on my favorite bloggers today and I saw Joy the Baker’s post about whole wheat millet banana bread.  I love banana bread, though Rocker Dude hates anything flavored banana, besides bananas.  I bought some millet a couple of months ago to try in a recipe (which failed – back to my healthy things can’t taste that good theory).  I don’t want to throw it out because I am trying to be less wasteful in an effort to save money, but I had no idea what to do with millet.  It is actually a seed (don’t tell Rocker Dude but it is most commonly found in birdseed – shhhh), but it has a lot of vitamins and good stuff so I wanted to use it.  Joy has never steered me wrong before, so I had to try this recipe.

Organic Millet from the health food store.

The Little Rocker and I have been spending a lot of time together lately.  Her daycare ended on August 8th and now she is home.  The expectation in this country is that all parents will take off in August so there is no point in having daycare (or vice versa – it’s really a chicken and egg situation).  Unfortunately, August is reporting season for second quarter earnings so I can’t take off, and Rocker Dude is trying to prepare for the coming school year, so he can’t entertain her too much.  As a result, the Little Rocker has started joining me at work.  She finds it really exciting, and I can keep her occupied with my endless supply of highlighters and Post-its.  Also, having the Wonderpets on the laptop doesn’t hurt at all.

The Little Rocker at work. I hope we have stock in the Post-it industry.

Usually, after lunch, I bring her to meet Rocker Dude (living 15 minutes from the office has its perks) and then he takes her home for her nap.  Unfortunately every time I send her off she starts crying and wants to stay longer with me.  It practically breaks my heart, though I know she is exhausted and will calm down in a few minutes.  So when I come home from work I want to make up for that.  Today I came home and told her that we would be making cake together.  She got very excited – two of her favorite things, cooking/baking and cake.  Lately she has been a real help in the kitchen.  I recently taught her how to peel (without going near her fingers obviously) and she peeled all the carrots for the chicken soup on Thursday night.  So tonight, she did the mixing.  She helped me pour everything in and mix it up.  When I got the banana bread in the oven, she immediately asked to eat it (I guess they don’t teach physics to 2 year olds).

Healthy Mush

After getting ready for bed, we both sampled the banana bread and I have to say that Joy was right – this is delicious!  You don’t even taste the millet at all, it just adds a bit of crunch.

Whole Wheat Millet Banana Bread

Here is the recipe from her site.  Now don’t all go assuming that I will be posting only healthy options on this blog, I still think that healthy foods are just not as good, but I will try!

Whole Wheat Millet Bread (from Joy the Baker):

1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly

1/2 cup canola or vegetable oil

1 cup light brown sugar, packed

1/2 cup granulated sugar

4 large eggs

2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

3/4 cup buttermilk

4 medium bananas, mashed

1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon salt

2 teaspoons baking soda

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/2 cup raw millet, rinsed

Place a rack in the center of the oven and preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Grease and flour two 8×4 inch loaf pans and set aside.

In a medium bowl, whisk together butter, oil, sugars, and eggs.  Beat until thoroughly incorporated.  Whisk in the vanilla, buttermilk, and mashed bananas.  Set aside.

In a large bowl, whisk together flours, salt, baking soda, and cinnamon.  Stir in millet.  Create a well in the center of the dry ingredients.  Carefully pour the wet ingredients over the dry ingredients.  Use a spatula to fold the batter together.

Divide the batter between the two prepared baking pans.  Bake for about 1 hour, or until a skewer inserted into the center of the bread comes out clean.  Remove from oven and allow to cool in the pan for 15 minutes before inverting onto a wire rack to cool completely.  Banana bread will last, well wrapped at room temperature, for up to five days.

Tuesdays With Dorie: Lots of Ways Banana Cake

I had mixed opinions about this cake.  Rocker Dude asked why it had to be banana, and couldn’t I do another flavor.  I told him that it was called “Lots of Ways Banana cake” – not “Any flavor cake you can make lots of ways.”  He used to like banana cake more, like when I first started making it for the Little Rocker, but I guess it has overstayed its welcome.  But he is very supportive of everything I make (cause he knows what’s good for him) and he supports me baking along with everyone because it gets me to try new things – so Banana Cake, here we come!

Look at that nice, thick batter.

A few weeks ago I had bought bananas expecting to eat them, but somehow, while my back was turned, they ripened and were all of a sudden to ripe to eat plain.  Luckily I knew that this recipe was coming up so I peeled them and put them in the freezer.

You can still see the bits of banana in the batter.

I hoped to make these in time for our weekly Star Trek date with A. and E. on Wednesday night.  Of course, I didn’t start making the cake until after the Little Rocker went to sleep, but as the cake was only supposed to bake for about 40 minutes I hoped it would be done already.  I should have known better.  Things always take longer in my oven. I also made the cake in a loaf pan so that it would be like banana bread, so that also made it take longer.  Basically it ended up being done baking just as we were finishing our last episode of the night.  I quickly brushed the syrup on it and we all had a piece, hot from the oven.

You can totally tell that this picture was staged - I am a righty, how would I properly brush the syrup on with my left hand?

Although it was so hot that each piece fell apart, it added so much to the flavor.  Rocker Dude even said that it tasted like the perfect breakfast food, almost like french toast.  He should know better than to underestimate the awesomeness of my baking.

Banana loaf cake, I know it looks a bit brown around the edges but it is so moist and not burnt at all - I highly recommend this cake to everyone!

Sorry this post is so short, but I have been really busy at work (when I usually write these things up) training my replacement.  Rocker Dude, the Little Rocker and I are all flying next week to New Jersey for my brother D.’s wedding!  We will be there for about three weeks, and apparently my office can’t survive without me (when they realize how much they need me I should get a raise!)

I also have another recipe to  post – Ginger Cookies – and that will have to wait until I have  a few free minutes too.  When Rocker Dude went shopping this week he bought blueberry pie filling – hint hint – I then responded that he forgot to get the cheese so how was I supposed to make cheesecake?

This week’s recipe was hosted by Kimberly of Only Creative Opportunities so visit her blog to get the recipe and see what other TWD bakers did here.