Sunday, January 27, 2013

Sweet and Spicy Chocolate Truffles

I love foods with multiple flavors.  My caramel is always sweet and salty and my chocolate truffles are always sweet and spicy.  I don't need a holiday to make these delicious chocolates and I don't remember a time when I didn't have them in my refrigerator or freezer, but I patiently waited until Valentine's Day to share this recipe with you. I realize that not everyone likes heat, especially with chocolate, so feel free to leave out the cayenne pepper, but if you try this recipe as written, you may just discover a new pleasure.  Surprise your significant other with a little unexpected spice for Valentine's Day.

Your truffles will only taste as good as the chocolate you begin with, so make sure you use a good chocolate like Ghirardelli or Lindt.

Using a sharp knife, chop the chocolates as finely as possible to help melt the chocolate quickly and evenly.  Place the chopped chocolate into a medium glass bowl.  Glass retains heat, so the chocolate will stay melted longer.

§  1/2 pound bittersweet chocolate  
§  1/2 pound semisweet chocolate
§  1 cup heavy cream
§  1 tablespoon Grand Marnier (optional)
§  1 tablespoon hot prepared coffee
§  1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
§  1/2 teaspoon Cayenne Pepper
§  Unsweetened cocoa powder 

To make the ganache, heat the cream in a small saucepan over medium heat until bubbles form around the edge.

Pour the hot cream into the bowl with chocolate through a fine-meshed sieve to trap any skin that may have formed and let sit for 20- 30 seconds.

With a wire whisk, slowly stir the cream and chocolates together until the chocolate is completely melted.

Whisk in the Grand Marnier, coffee, vanilla and 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper.  Taste the mixture.  I typically add a little more cayenne pepper.  Will other peppers, you immediately feel the heat on your tongue.  With cayenne, you won't feel the heat until you swallow where it leaves warmth in the back of your throat.  If you like, add another bit of cayenne until you get the heat you like.  This mixture will not get spicier as it sits, so this is the perfect time to test for your desired heat. 

Cover the ganache with plastic wrap making sure the plastic rests directly onto the surface of the ganache to prevent a skin for forming.  Place the warm ganache into the refrigerator for 1-3 hours, until mixture is firm.  I poured the warm ganache into a casserole dish to cool quicker.

With 2 teaspoons or a small ice cream scoop, drop small mounds of the ganache onto a baking sheet lined with a silpat or parchment paper.

Place in the refrigerator for about 20 minutes until firm enough to roll into round balls.  

Pour the cocoa powder onto a deep plate or shallow bowl.  Drop the truffles onto the plate and roll between 2 forks to completely coat with cocoa powder.  Then use the forks to carefully transfer them to a baking sheet lined with parchment or wax paper.  Return to refrigerator until ready to eat.  These truffles will keep in the refrigerator for two weeks and in the freezer for several months.  When ready to serve, remove from the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes as truffles taste best when eaten at room temperature.

For Valentine's Day, I have decided to coat my truffles with chocolate. I'll be serving them to company and coated chocolates are a bit fancier.

Using a sharp knife, chop chocolate as finely as possible to help melt the chocolate quickly and evenly.  Place the chocolate into a medium glass bowl.  Melt in the microwave at 50 percent power until soft, about 1 minute.  Remove from microwave and stir.  If not completely melted, return to microwave for another 30 seconds being careful not to overheat the chocolate.

Dip each ball in the melted chocolate.  Two forks make it easier to fish out the dipped chocolate balls.  Place truffles on a wire rack over parchment lined tray to dry.  I had some leftover chocolate which I drizzled over the truffles in the photo.  Allow the truffles to set for at least 15 minutes. 

These will keep refrigerated for two weeks and in the freezer for several months, but serve at room temperature. For a printer friendly copy of this recipe visit Sweet and Spicy Truffles.  Enjoy! 

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Sweet and Savory Baked Beans

Today we’re celebrating the 90th birthday of Frances Oliver, the matriarch of the family who took me in as one of their own almost 20 years ago when I moved to Nashville. We are honored to host her birthday celebration in our home. When asked what she would like on the menu, she didn’t hesitate for a minute before listing all of her favorites; Tennessee Barbecue, Potato Salad, Cole Slaw, Baked Beans and Corn Casserole.  

Where I grew up, we had the best pizza places on every street corner so I never felt the need to make homemade pizza.  That’s how I feel about barbecue in Tennessee.  In Nashville there are so many award winning barbecue restaurants, I see no reason to compete, so I’ll spend my time making the sides. 

Miss Frances requested buns, but I may surprise her with homemade hoe cakes, corn bread fried like pancakes. According to early American food history, hoe cakes are so-called because they were baked on the blade of a gardening hoe by slaves in the fields. 

This is the second time this week that someone has asked me to make my Sweet and Savory Baked Beans, so I thought I would share that recipe with you.

§     1 onion, finely chopped
§     1 red pepper (or a combination of red, yellow and orange), finely chopped
§     2 tablespoons vegetable oil
§     2 28 ounce cans of beans (vegetarian or pork and beans)
§     1/4 cup maple syrup
§     1/4 cup light brown sugar
§     1/4 cup ketchup
§     3 tablespoons yellow mustard
§     1 tablespoon lemon juice
§     1 teaspoon salt
§     1/2 teaspoon pepper

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Heat vegetable oil in a frying pan and add finely chopped onions.  Sauté the onions until translucent but not brown and then add the chopped peppers. 

Sauté the peppers and onions for one or two minutes and remove from the flame. 

In a large bowl, mix together the beans, maple syrup, brown sugar, ketchup, mustard, lemon juice, salt and pepper.  

Add the onion and pepper mixture and combine well. 

Pour into a casserole dish and bake uncovered for approximately 30 - 40 minutes until the mixture bubbles and thickens slightly.  For a printer friendly copy of this recipe, go to Sweet and Savory Baked Beans. Enjoy!