Grand Marnier Chocolate Truffles

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I needed a desert for a thanksgiving party and felt that by the time people got to desert they’d be pretty full. I decided chocolate truffles are always easy to go down, just one bite. I made these as little gifts for my weddings, used them to decorate around a birthday cake… I am also going to give them as gifts for the holidays. I will just put 5 or 6 in a little clear plastic bag, tie a cute bow and that’s it!  You can also get nice small candy boxes at cooking stores or craft stores. There are also molds to make your truffles perfectly round with no mistakes, but I like the homemade look to my truffles.  I don’t want them to look professional just taste that way.

 

Ingredients:

16 ounces of bittersweet or semisweet chocolate finely chopped.  I usually use the big dark chocolate bars (500 grams) from Trader Joe’s.

1 cup heavy cream (not whipping cream)

2 tablespoons Grand Marnier ( you can also use triple sec, framboise, or any other flavored liqueurs)

24 ounces chopped dark chocolate for melting and dipping the truffle balls.

For decorating:  Chopped nuts (pistachios, walnuts, pecans,…. ) powdered sugar, sel de cali- orange flavored sea salt, melted white chocolate, sprinkles… what ever you want: get creative.  chopped chocolate

 

Directions:  Put the chocolate into a large heatproof bowl.  In a small saucepan over medium heat bring the cream to a slight boil.  Pour cream over chopped chocolate. Stir until chocolate is melted and smooth.  Add your favorite liqueur ( about 2 tablespoons).  Put mixture, which is actually called a ganache, in the fridge over night or if you are pressed for time, pour the ganache in a shallow dish and put in the refrigerator/freezer for about 30 mins.  Once the chocolate seems ready in a solid pliable form, not hard, start making little balls with a teaspoon or a melon baller.  Don’t make the balls too big, remember this will be the inside of your truffle, there will still be an exterior layer of hardened chocolate.

Place the balls on a lined baking sheet with parchment paper.  Place the sheet in the refrigerator for another 10 mins.  cheap double boilerMeanwhile chop and melt the 24 ounces of chocolate over a double boiler.  I don’t have one so I balanced a heat proof bowl over a sauce pan filled with water boiling.  Once the chocolate is melted, take the balls out of the fridge. Dip and swirl each in the melted chocolate. place on cookie sheet and sprinkle on nuts, salt..whatever you want. You can also roll it in chopped nuts.  I just kept mine with little added sprinkles and maybe one or two rolled in nuts.  Once you are done, put the truffles back in the fridge.  Continue until all are done.  By the way, don’t re-heat chocolate or over cook, it will break down and won’t work. The truffles last up to 2 weeks and the best is to refrigerate them.

Enjoy!!!!!

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Floating islands

Whisking egg whites
Whisking egg whites (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Crème anglaise made from milk, eggs, sugar and...

This was the most amazing and simple dessert I made.  During our stay in France, we were at a cafe eating lunch.  My husband and son didn’t want a dessert, fine for them, I was thinking I’m going back to the states in 4 weeks, time to eat up all the wonderful things possible on this visit.  I ordered l’ile flottante a lovely french desert.  It arrived at the table and my husband was curious and took a bite.  Basically it’s a big poof cloud on a liquid creme anglaise.  It’s so delicious.  He gobbled up most of my desert.  My son only 6 still scared of liquidy looking, strange things passed on it.  I decided I needed to try it at home back in Los Angeles.  I searched on line for many different recipes.  I found some that added corn starch or other things.  I knew it was a very simple desert, so finally I found one that just asked for 1.5 cups of milk, a split vanilla pod, 3 eggs separated and 115 grams of castor sugar.  Voila.  I found it and made it.

I did what they said.  Beat the egg whites, add a pinch

of salt until the eggs have firm peaks.  Continue beating the eggs while slowly adding 40 grams of sugar.  The eggs can be either put in boiling water or do what I did… 45 seconds in the microwave which is totally unheard of for me.  I don’t like microwaves, but I am a horrible egg poacher, I just couldn’t see how I could do egg whites.  So I thickened out, oh no, sounds bad while talking about eggs.  Anyway, I used the fast, microwave route.  They were perfect. I put them on a plate and in the fridge to keep.  I then made my custard.  Or wait, I made my custard first, but I don’t think it matters.  I heated the milk over a low heat with the vanilla pod slip in it.  I took out most of the seeds and added it mixing the milk.  Heat the milk till it bubbles a bit then remove from heat.  In a bowl mix the egg yolks and 75 grams of sugar.  Then pour the hot milk on this egg mixture.  Mix well.  Pour the mixture into a clean saucepan, add heat over low heat for 5 minutes stirring constantly.  It shouldn’t boil!  After a few minutes the custard will thickened a bit, but thicken even more in the fridge.  Place it all in fridge.  Try and find fun bowls, martini glasses, whatever you have to make the desert look wonderful.  Add the vanilla bean as a garnish.  This was too good and not bad for you.  The ingredients are so simple

1.5 cups milk, 3 eggs, 115 grams sugar and a vanilla pod-easy and yummy

Snazzy fruit salad

Lime fruits and leaves, Dole Street, Honolulu
Lime fruits and leaves, Dole Street, Honolulu (Photo credit: Joel Abroad)

Mango, манго - дары тропиков

With just a title, fruit salad, I would over look it.  I am not a fan of fruit salad and don’t find it so exciting. I’m more of a sinful desert eater.  Anything with lots of butter, cream or chocolate is perfect for me.  But after going to the fish market and seeing there was no tuna, the mango I would have used to make my cilantro mango salsa would go to waste if I didn’t use it up.  So I decided to turn my mango into desert.  I could have just sprinkled some coarse sugar on it and grilled it, that would have been tasty, but instead I decided to make a salad.

I cut up the deliciously ripe mango, tossed in a few strawberries that were left over from making chocolate covered strawberries for a friend.  I also found a piece of watermelon that I was sure had gone bad in the fridge.  It has just been there over a week and it was time to do my weekly fridge cleaning.  Anyway, the melon was still nice, firm and sweet.  I added some fresh squeezed lime juice of one lime and sliced some fresh ginger as thin as possible.  I let it sit for two hours not really on purpose, just for the meer fact that my husband worked super late that night and came home later than expected.

I think the time it  marinated  was the key to my snazzy tasting fruit salad. The tartness of the lime and the spiciness of the ginger really soaked into the fruit.  It was great and far from boring.  I think it could be even more snazzy  with a bit of liquor , white wine or champagne.  Put it in a martini glass and garnish with a mint piece.  YUM a type of grown-up desert soup.

ingredients:

1 lime

6 strawberries slivered

1 inch of ginger cut into thin slices

1 cup watermelon

1 big, ripe mango

watermelon
watermelon (Photo credit: imagelane)

Le Macaron

We went to a wonderful brunch at the Terranea Resort a few weeks ago. It was absolutely delicious and amazing.  There was a table of deserts that my son loved.  He discovered the macaron-macaroon cookie.  It’s not a typical American Macaroon with coconut. It’s a merengue based cookie.  He had a chocolate one and loved it.  I had a coffee one, a pistachio one and it goes on.  They are delicious.  So he asked me to make him some.  Wow, that was a bit intimidating at first.  I looked up many recipes on the net and found so many.  I didn’t have too much trouble making them, but feel the recipe wasn’t the best.  It wasn’t as delicious as the ones I have had in the past at Laduree 

Beaten egg whites
Image via Wikipedia

in Paris, and there was one in Milano as well.  I bought a book at TJMax that was calling my name.  It’s a book of Macaroons with over 30 recipes.  I will stick with the chocolate ones for my son but look forward to trying the pistachio and others out.  Yum again!

Ingredients

3/4 ground almonds

1 cup confectioners’ sugar

2 tbsp unsweetened cocoa

2 extra-large egg whites

1/4 cup superfine sugar

pinch of cream of tartar if you have.

filling:Ganache

3 1/2 oz or 100g semisweet chocolate chopped

2/3 heavy cream

 

Place ground almonds, confectioner’s sugar and cocoa in a food processor, process for 20 seconds.  You can also do this in a bowl, if you have no food processor.  You are then supposed to sift the mixture into a bowl.  I never do, but go ahead.

Prepare 2 baking sheets with parchment paper, very important, it will not work without the paper!

Using a spatula, fold in the almond mixture into the meringue mixture.  Oh forgot to tell you need to whip the egg whites before hand until it holds soft peaks.  ONce they hold peaks gradually beat int he superfine sugar to make them firm and glossy.  I have found that adding a pinch of cream of tartar helps.

Pour the batter into a pastry bag with about 1/2 inch tip, if you’ve no bag, use a ziplock and cut a small hole at the tip.  Pipe small circles onto the parchment paper.  Tap the baking sheets firmly onto a surface to remove any air bubbles.  Let stand at room temp for about 30 mins.  Preheat oven to 325F or 160 C

back for about 10-15 mins.  Cool for 10 mins and peel the macaroons off the parchement paper and let cool completely.  Works best if you have a wire, cooling rack.

Make the filling, place the chocolate in a heatproof bowl.  Heat the cream in a saucepan until just boiling then pour the hot cream over the chocolate, stir and let cool for about 15-20 mins.  Then you just make a little sandwich.  Delicious!!!

Enjoy and for those of you doing the Dukan diet, this is a great treat for the splurge days.  Or you can try and make a sugar free version!

Français : Macarons, Paris, France
Image via Wikipedia