Johanna over at The passionate cook hosts this month’s edition of the sweetest temptation in the world of foodblogs: It’s Sugar High Friday again! A welcome excuse and carte blanche for every sweet-tooth to indulge in chocolate, truffles this time around. I’ve been busy like a bee lately and wasn’t sure if my working schedule would allow an elaborate chocolate session, a little shifting here, a little there, I wasn’t really pondering it…
Over the last years the number of fancy sweets and chocolate shops in Munich has grown exponentially – it seems quite obvious that I’m not the only one with a distinctive demand for fine little treats. Each shop has its own style, some offer carefully selected, exquisite chocolate specialties, while others go for a broad overture of everything sweet. And then there are shops, that fit neither category. Sama-Sama, located a stone’s throw from Viktualienmarkt, is such a gem.
From the outside it could be easily mistaken for an exotic flower shop – I know, because I passed by it several times without realizing. Oh, how could I! Entering the dark and gloomy shop feels like stepping into a different world [one where you’d be looking for the light switch] and it takes a moment to adjust to the precious little daylight and narrow space. If you suffer form claustrophobia your only chance is that your lust for delicious chocolate prevails.
If you’re lucky, you can watch the owner Wilhemina Raabe preparing the finest and most exquisite truffles right by the doorway. Passing by her exotic fruits, flowers and decorations for homemade sweets will bring you to their truffle display which has the potential to turn perfectly normal people into “Gollums”. Ooh, I need the Truffles, Truffles. Noooo I will not leave without. My precious truffles! One piece more beautiful and enticing than the other, make sure to not bring your credit cards and only so much cash. If you ever stop by her shop – besides all her fabulous looking creations – a must try are her simple butter truffles, the term “melts in your mouth” will become a whole new meaning… which is another reason, why they don’t prepare these during hot summer periods.
Besides good chocolate, it’s at least equally important to check what temperatures are required/suggested for the tempering process. The vendor should usually be able to give you this information and other good tips, unless – like here *cough* – you’re talking to a genius like
geek expert who tries to describe, as cryptically as it can get, in fragmented bits of information what to do, in a slightly uptight way. Call me stupid, but I walked out there clueless (and didn’t dare to go back and ask again to make me look like a complete fool). So I asked Oliver when he left for a lunch meeting nearby to get some more chocolate. Back home his initial self-confidence [about getting answers] was gone and instead I looked into a set of baffled eyes. Hi hi. The upside of this is, that we got in touch with Felchlin, the producer of the chocolate in Switzerland who wouldn’t let me off the phone, giving us detailed tips and instructions. Customer service at its best.
It wouldn’t surprise me if somewhere out there someone wrote a thesis on properly tempering (pre-crystallizing) chocolate and going through my cookbooks I can easily come up with more than a handful of different techniques. Most make it look like rocket science (on purpose?), one even comes with plotted graphs on the exact temperature drop and rise over time. Sure, you need to keep an eye on the temperature but I’ll bet you will find it much easier than the books depict it.
Anyway here’s our approach, which is based on the “seeding” method, which the man who knows also describes in more detail here. It all boils down to hard, shiny chocolate that feels smooth in the mouth yet dry to the touch.
If you can’t find prepackaged chocolate bits, chop up the chocolate you want to temper. Then, over a bain marie, melt all but about a third of the chocolate bits at 43-45°C/110-113°F, check with an appropriate thermometer. By melting the chocolate, you dissolve all crystals and essentially start from scratch. Make sure that the water is not touching the bottom of the container holding the chocolate.
Move the melted chocolate off the heat. Now add the pieces of chocolate you set aside and let it cool to about 26-28°C/ 79-82°F while continually stirring. This might take 8-10 minutes.
Carefully reheat the chocolate over the hot water in the double boiler, until the mixture reaches 30-31°C/86°F. At this point your chocolate should be well tempered and ready for further processing.
Note: All temperatures used in the above steps relate to Felchlin’s Maracaibo Clasificado 65%, which we used. Please check with the vendor of your choice.
After tempering the dark chocolate, drop little amounts, using a teaspoon, on a Silpat (its bottom side gives a nice pattern) or parchment paper to form the truffles’ bottoms. Let cool completely. Then carefully remove until further use.
Meanwhile beat the butter until creamy. Add the pre-crystallized, melted white chocolate and the coffee liqueur and mix until evenly combined. I’m not certain about the benefits in using pre-crystallizing white chocolate for the filling, but I followed the recipe this time. The next time I won’t – unless somebody enlightens me.
The original recipe continues without chilling the chocolate, which I found impossible as the mixture was way too soft to pipe. So I put the bowl in the fridge until it reached a pipe-able consistency (about an hour).
Pipe the mixture onto the little chocolate bottoms and chill again.
Take a regular fork (because of the truffles’ flat bottoms), dip them one by one briefly into the prepared dark chocolate (see above), carefully remove any excess chocolate that drips off and place each on the Silpat mat. Don’t be discouraged if the first ones look a bit weird, but you’ll improve with each truffle. Key is to figure out the right amount of chocolate (coating) and to artistically place them on the mat to produce a nicely shaped truffle. A comforting thought for beginners: The not so perfect ones can be eaten right after and taste just as good… ;)
Note: Leftover chocolate can be put in (silicon) ice-cube trays and stored in an airtight container until the next truffle session.
Recipe source: adapted from "Perfekte Pralinen",
Jean-Pierre Wybauw, p.106
Ingredients (yields about 40 small truffles):
high-quality dark chocolate for bottoms/coating
80g soft butter
170g white chocolate
17g Kalua (coffee liqueur)
for decoration: ground pistachios, silver leaves, etc.