April 18, 2012

Best Ever Made Chocolate Truffles pt.2 (Variants)

listed below are several variations on the truffles i posted last week(link here)

to save on time, i will explain the changes to the original recipe

Variant 1
Saffron and Spice.

added ingredients:
additional 1/2 tbsp honey
2-3 springs of saffron
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1 1/2 tbsp Cinnamon

add extra honey to cream mixture.
to the scalding phase, add 3-4 sprigs of saffron.
in the same bowl as the chocolate add cinnamon and nutmeg.
let cream mixture rest an additional 2-3 minutes off of the heat, before straining into the chocolate bowl
steep as normal.

(Optional)after en-robbing roll in a mixture of 1 part cinnamon, 5 parts powdered sugar, 2 parts cocoa powder.

Variant 2
Afternoon Tea

Added ingredients:
Additional 1Tbps honey
2 bags of good flavorful Black/green tea.(i like to use 1001 nights from The Original Ceylon Tea Company)

Jasmine or herbal tea will work, just make sure it is flavorful and can be steeped strong.
If you wouldn't drink the tea, don't use it in this recipe.

place cream in pan heat on low, remove from heat, steep tea bags in cream for 10-15 minutes, depending on your tea and your taste.
add butter and all of the honey(extra and normal amount).
place back on stove bring to simmer, continue as normal.

Variant 3
Peanut Butter cup

additional ingredients:
4 tbsp Smooth Peanut butter

Remove 1/4 of the chocolate
remove Butter.

Omit Butter from cream mixture.
add peanut butter to chocolate, before steeping.
after steeping, continue as normal.

these are only a few. there are almost infinite variations you could make.
try a few out or leave your own in the comments below.

April 11, 2012

Chocolate Truffles (Best Ever Made)

I have Been Making these For a Couple Of Years... they are The Best i have Ever Had... and I a Chocoholic...
 * I assume that you are taking the proper Precautions when working with sharp, hot or otherwise potentially dangerous things... if not, you have only yourself to blame.*
* if you cannot safely work in the kitchen DO NOT ATTEMPT THIS RECIPE, i take no responsibility for any harm that may come from using the Content Below*

There are Several Varieties, I will list the basic Recipe here, and later I will try and post others.

Chocolate Truffles (Best Ever Made)
Yields About a dozen.

The process breaks down into a few Steps.
first is to make the centers,
Then you form them,
and finally you en-robe them.

        The Basic Center Recipe Starts with the Chocolate. Since the chocolate here is the Show-Piece, it is unwise to use cheap, or low quality chocolate.
 I use a Good Quality 70-80% Cacao Bar(don't go less that 50% for the centers, or your Truffles may never setup properly), no need to get super pricey stuff, Supermarket brand will do, I have used lots of brands(for centers I would stay away from Brands Like Hershey, mars, or Dove... they Contain a lot of sugar which makes the centers set up differently.)
I like to use Ghirardelli or Lindt; just a personal choice, It is not to expensive, and it yields a nice end product.

You can use several different kinds of Sugar, the goal is just to slow the Crystallization of the Chocolate, So Corn Syrup or Molasses would work fine as a substitute.
I prefer Honey, because i think it adds a nice flavor to the mix... but you can substitute, you may have to adjust the Amount.(if you are substituting Corn Syrup reduce by half)

  Truffles Recipe
 4 oz Good Quality Chocolate(Chopped into no larger that 1/4in pieces)
 1/4 C Heavy Whipping Cream(Don't even Think about using Low/no fat substitutes, wont work)
 1 Tbsp Honey(or Karo, or Molasses)
 1 Tbsp Butter(Sweet Cream, Unsalted)
 5-10 oz. Chocolate for dipping.

         Placed Chopped Chocolate in a Medium Bowl. set a side.
   In a small sauce pan mix Butter, Honey, and Cream.(I use a small Saucier).
Heat on Medium Low or low, Stirring Constantly, until The Cream Comes to a boil, reduce heat immediately
simmer for approximately 3 minutes. this will vary based on the humidity, your altitude, and the phase of the moon(OK, not really, but there are a lot of variables)
 you are trying to fully dissolve the Sugar, and make the fats act as an emulsifier... if it start to gel, you have gone too far.
   pour Cream mixture over Chocolate. let sit for 5-10 minutes. let the heat from the cream soften the Chocolate. this will help the texture of the finished Centers.
just let the Chocolate steep. Do Not Stir it for AT Least 5 minutes. if your kitchen is cold, you may want to set your bowl, inside a larger bowl, containing hot water.(just don't get any water in the chocolate mix)
   after it has steeped, take a whisk and Stir, mercilessly, until smooth.
now begins the Chilling Stages... time consuming but absolutely Critical.
         chill the Chocolate mixture for 15- 20 minutes.
         then Stir it again.
         Chill For 15-20 minutes.
         Stir Again. you may need to switch to a fork at this point.
         Chill again, 15-20 minutes.
         Chill for 5-7minutes.
         5-7 minute chill.
         chill, for 10 minutes.
         the centers should be very solid... if not stir them again, and chill them for another 10 minutes.
         do not stir after the last cooling.
   you should have the centers solid, and if all went right, they will fave a velvety smooth, melt in your mouth texture.
   On a sheet of wax paper, or parchment Dump the Centers out, Working quickly, form the centers into a 3 x 4 rectangle.
   Wrap in the wax paper, and stash in fridge for an hour.
         remove from fridge, cut into 1 inch squares, and place back in fridge.
   For a more traditional Look, take the Squares, one at a time, and roll them into balls.
  I personally like this sizeand shape of the truffle, you can shape them however you like.
         Dipping time.
   I have thus far not talked too much about the chocolate you will use to dip; any heat tolerant, decent quality milk chocolate Will work. Recommend 30-50% cacao.
   I use Ghirardelli Creamy Devotion... but I have used Dove, and Lindt... and many others.
   If you make the size i have suggested above, you realistically only need 4-5 oz of chocolate.
when are ready to Dip, Place a pot on the stove, on medium, with a few inches in the bottom, place a metal bowl over it.
   use a metal bowl; glass if you don't have metal... Don't use plastic.  The bowl must fit well, if steam gets in to the chocolate it will seize, and ruin in.
   place finely chopped en-robing chocolate in the top bowl, while the bowl heats, with a rubber spatula stir constantly.
   as soon as the chocolate is melted remove it from heat.  Go, get the centers out of the fridge, and place a piece of parchment wax paper down; This will let the chocolate cool slightly so it won't burn you or melt the centers.
  Using Gloves or other safety equipment, dip the chocolates.
(if you can do it without burning yourself, using your hands is best.)

   Cool until the shell is set.
         Enjoy right away, or frozen these will last a good 2 weeks.

March 28, 2012

Biscuts and Gravy

before put this recipe out, i would like to give a bit of background.
 i have made hundreds and thousands of dishes, some very simple, some extraordanarily complex...
always on the first try... there is however one notable exception.... Biscuits...
Never have i had such trouble as with biscuits... they are my Kryptonite, and My Unicorn.

after some time, i have managed to come up some fantastic biscuts.

here is the recipe for the southern classic, Biscuts and Gravy.

first start with the Biscuits

     Buttermilk Biscuits Recipe

6 Cups All purpose Flour.
8 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons Salt
3/4 cup Fat( should be solid at room-tempeture like Shortening, butter or lard)
3 cup buttermilk

the Fat you use makes a big diffence in the end result. i would recommend using at least half Shortening, for a flakier Product.
i like to use 1/2C shortning or lard, and 1/4C Butter... although i have made them from 100% butter, and they turned out fine.

start by chilling by fats, a couple of hours at least, the night before is better.

then Pre-heat oven to 500 degrees F.(485F for those of you with convectional ovens)
using a Sifter, sift all the Dry ingredients into a mixing bowl, removing or breaking up any clumps.
then, cut the chilled fat into the mixture with a Pastry Blender(or a fork) until it is more or less homogenous, but not smooth... it should have a course texture.

add the Buttermilk.
use the muffin method... blend for 15-20 seconds until the dough starts to come together... no more.
blend as little as posible.

dump out on to a slightly floured surface, and fold a few times(again, as little as posible, 3-4 is usually enough)
shape into a 1 inch high circle.

do not use a rolling pin. use your hands, and use light pressure, try not to compress the dough.

Cut into Biscuts, i use a Regular Width canning ring(not for a wide mouth jar), you could use a 2inch ring or cookie cutter.

place on a Baking sheet, leaving a little space(1/4inch is plenty) between them.

Reform dough into 1inch thick circle, using scraps, careful not to over-work dough.

place in heated oven
Bake for 8-10 minutes(5 for Convection ovens)

Yields Approx 2 1/2 doz. biscuits.

Now for the Gravy

I have Heard this Called Sawmill or Milk Gravy, i Call it Sausage Gravy.

     Sausage Gravy Recipe.

1Lbs Sausage.(fresher the better)
1/4C Flour
2C milk
Salt & pepper to Taste

Plain Sausage is the best, Maple of other flavored sausage is not ideal for this recipe.
although you can use any heat-level (Hot, medium, mild... Etc.) you wish.

Cook Sausage in a heavy or cast iron pan.
when the sausage is thoroughly cooked,
remove from pan using a slotted spoon.

pour off all but 2-3Tablespoons of the dipping
on the stove whisk in the Flour.

let the flour cook on low for 3-5minutes.

remove from heat and add milk, Slowly.
whisk well after each addition of milk, if you add it too quickly you will end up with lumps.

after all the milk is whisked in, return to the stove.

Heat on medium-high, stirring ocasionally until the gravy begins to simmer.
make sure you stir well, a lot of the flavour comes from the little bits of sausage on the bottom of the pan.
when the gravy has thickened, add the cooked and drained sausage back into the gravy.

Taste the gravy, and add salt/pepper to your taste.

Now take some of your biscuts and cut them in half, ladle a good amount of Gravy on top... and Enjoy

January 10, 2012

French Croissant . (best ever made)

over the last several years i have been perfecting a french-style croissant, that is quite literal the best i have ever had. like my cinnamon rolls a good deal of what makes them delicious is the process, not necessarily the recipe.

first and for most, these things take time... lots of it. roughly a day plus at least 6 hours refrigeration.
but as John Wooden Said "If you don't have time to do it right, When will you have time to do it over?"


120 g (approx 1 Cup) all-purpose Flour
120 ml of warm water
.3 grams active dry yeast

Butter layer:
23 grams (3 Tbsp) flour
3 sticks unsalted butter (3/4 pound) of butter, room temperature cubed

400 grams ( approx 3 cups) all-purpose flour
12 grams (2 tsp) salt
28 grams (2 Tbsp) sugar
13 grams (2 packages or 4-1/2 teaspoons) active dry yeast
235 ml (approx 1 Cup) milk
180 ml (approx 3/4 cup) half-and-half
1 egg
1 Tbsp water

Yield approx 24 rolls.

The night before(15-18 hours ahead of time) make the Poolish, a style french preferment, ours is going to be a 100% hydration.(meaning it has the 1:1 ration of flour to liquid)  Mix the warm water, Flour and Yeast in a bowl. it will be shaggy, just make sure there are no dry spots. Cover and let rest at room temperature overnight. 
A note about the yeast: Do not leave it out. most scales are not accurate enough to measure such a small ammount, if yours is one of them, you can approximate it with 1/16 teaspoon or 2-3 solid pinches.

The next day start by making the butter mixture. It is very important that we have the right temperature butter, and that it is butter... not margarine. The simplest way to do this is to take the butter out of the fridge and cube it while it is still cold, then let it sit on the counter for an hour or so to come up to room temperature. 

In a medium bowl place your cubed( no larger than 1/2inch pieces) butter and sprinkle 3Tbsp of sifted flour on top then using a pastry blender, or fork, work the flour in and mix until light in color and uniform. If the butter starts to leak or melt, stop immeadiatly, place in fridge for 10 minutes and try again.

Place the butter on a sheet of wax-paper, parchment or foil(i prefer parchment) and shape into a a square that is 5-6inches. place in the fridge and chill.

In a medium saucepan measure out 1C milk and 3/4C half-and-half place on low heat and warm until about 80 degrees F, not more that 95F(if the milk is too hot, it will kill the yeast). Add 2Tbsp and sprinkle yeast on top, and allow to bloom for 10 minutes or so. 

In a stand mixer bowl measure out 2-1/4C flour, sifted, add in the the bloomed yeast mixture and all of the poolish, and salt, install dough hook and mix on lowest setting until the liquid in absorded.
Then beat on higher speed for 5 minutes(kitchen aid recommends no higher than speed 2). you know the dough is ready when you give the dough a firm tug and it doesnt tear or shear. move to lightly greased medium bowl, and rest for 30 minutes Cover with a tea-towel for 30 minutes.

we want to gain some strength, to do this we will do a gluten builing fold. gently reach under the dough and pull veritally to stretch out the dough; you want to go as far as the dough will let you, fold it over top turn 90 degrees, and repeat 3 more times. pick the whole ball up and tuck the edge of the dough, roll the dough into a ball forming a tight skin.

Let rest 60 minutes. repeat the entire stretch and fold process.   

 It needs to double twice and it needs time for the yeast to develop flavor, not so long as to allow the tea-towel to dry out.  after it doubles once stir it down, and let it double again. (if you are planing on raising it overnight, the fridge is a better option, in a plastic bag, just make sure you let the dough warm back up, before continuing.)

move to a zip-top bag and place in the fridge. chill for no less than 2 hours. you may wish to check it after 30minutes or so to vent extra gas. 

now comes the tricky part. we need to get the dough and butter mixture to the be about 65F. usually this means taking the butter out of the fridge 30-40(maybe an hour) before the dough. 

if at any point the butter is breaking up. stop, let it sit for 10-20minutes to warm up, and then continue; if it becomes greasy, or starts oozing out of the dough, stop, chill it for 10-20minutes and try again. you are working against temperature and time here, so combination of observation, caution and speed is required.

the butter will be slightly flexible, but not oily when it is at the right temperature.

when they are ready, gently flatten the dough, working into a square with your hands, you want to break up and redistribute the larger air bubbles while kneading the dough as little as possible.

working on a floured surface, take a rolling pin, and roll the dough into 12inch square. unwrap the butter block and place it in the center, on the diagonal. take each corner and fold it over the butter. there should be overlap of at least 2inches. 

take the dough and flip it over, roll out using constant but gentle pressure. roll out into a rectangle the rectangle should be about 10 X 24inches. fold the dough in thirds, and rotate 90degrees,  and roll out again. fold like a letter, in thirds again.

place uncovered in the fridge to rest and chill for an hour or so, no more than 2.

remover from fridge, let warm slightly and roll out again, and again. 

you should fold and roll the dough a total of four times, rotating a quarter turn each time. 

now place back in the fridge and chill for 3-4hours, in a zip-top bag, 

now we form the final shape, remember we are aiming for 5inch triangles, so when rolling the dough, try and get the final size some factor of 5. i roll mine to about 10 X 40 inches. don't worry to much about the overall size the thickness is much more crucial. it needs to be 1/4inch. less and it wont be chewy enough more and it wont be flaky enough.  

after they are cut chill and rest for 20minutes.

roll into the traditional shape, starting at the bottom roll toward the point, place on a baking sheet, preferably with a silpat. cover sheet with a warm moistened tea-towel and let raise for 30minute to an hour.

boil water and heat the over to the lowest setting you have. (mine is 170F) turn of the oven and let cool until it is between 100 and 125degrees F, no hotter. place a 9X13 or other pan in to the bottom of the oven, fill with boiling water, place rolls in the oven and let proof for 30minutes or so, then remove the towles, and let raise another 10minutes. the rolls should have more than doubled in size.

remove rolls and water pan from over, preheat over to 425F  while it is heating, beat 1 egg and 1Tbsp of water together, to form an egg wash, brush over rolls.(for a slightly soft wash, as 1teaspoon of olive oil to the wash)

bake for 25minutes.  

i use a convectional oven, so i bake mine @ 410F and they are done after 20minutes, however i set my timer to 15minutes and check them every minute or so after that.