Flavor of March - the French Tart
Last spring, I stumbled upon a cocktail recipe for a French Tart. It's a simple drink to make with wonderfully complex flavors. Since then, I've been obsessed with making it into a confection. And I think I've done it!
The drink recipe (found here) has fresh grapefruit juice, simple syrup made with fresh rosemary, a splash of fresh lemon juice, vodka and St Germain. When you make the rosemary simple syrup in advance (and it really is very simple to do), throwing together this drink in a shaker is easy and will still be impressive to your friends and family. And what better drink to wish for warmer temperatures (c'mon Reno and/or winter weather)?
So while the drink recipe is surprisingly easy to throw together, the recipe for this confection took me a long time to create. The biggest issue was controlling the amount of water that is naturally in fresh squeezed grapefruit juice. Because you are creating a confection that must be shelf stable for a minimum of three weeks, even with dairy products present, the chemistry of the interior is very important. And water is easily the biggest enemy in creating a wonderful chocolate. I toyed with the idea of using a grapefruit essential oil, but that just isn't my style. I like using the ingredients as they're found in nature whenever possible.
This lead me to create something other than my usual truffle made of a ganache base. Instead, this month I present the French Tart jelly. This jelly is made with fresh grapefruit juice, rosemary, lemon juice, vodka, St Germain and pectin, not gelatin. One reason being the natural source of gelatin, but the real reason is the texture. The texture of a pectin jelly is so addictive. You can thank French pâte de fruits for my addiction to that texture!
December's Flavors of the Month
We're so excited the holiday season that I couldn't just create one flavor for the holidays. And these are traditional favorites with a modern look.
The Peppermint truffle takes a dark chocolate ganache made with our French 56% dark chocolate and we fold in a natural peppermint oil. It may be the perfect ending for too much holiday food since peppermint is known to settle tummies. Or at least that's what heard in the kitchen!
The second flavor is our Eggnog truffle. It's a local eggnog, brandy and a splash of cinnamon. While the peppermint may be a cooling flavor, this one will certainly warm you up! Just in time since it's snowing as I'm writing this.
I'm keeping this short - 'tis the season for me to be working like crazy. And so off I go!
November's Flavor of the Month - the Spiced Truffle
For our next Sugar Love University course, we're exploring New World (Latin) flavors since that's where our chocolate obsession began and that's where some interesting things are now happening in the food world. The jungles of the Central America and the deep forests of the Amazons are beginning to shine again for their interesting ingredients and flavor profiles. Let's discover a small portion of those together at our event that we're pairing with Branded Hearts Distillery (click here for tickets).
So what spices have we chosen for the Spiced Truffle this month? A wonderful and dark, almost raisin-like, sweet and very-long tasting heat. There is a reason why this pepper is often paired with duck, mushrooms and lamb. Then, because most people are expecting a kick from something called a Spiced Truffle, a dash of cayenne pepper is added for that necessary punch.
This is a long flavor profile in your mouth. If you purchase several flavors - make sure to have this last. Not necessarily because it will over-power the others, but because the full flavor takes quite a while to develop on your palate. This is a flavor that rewards, and rewards slowly for those that will wait patiently. Oh and it goes perfectly with a black coffee or a highlands Scotch. Yum!
Spiced Pear Truffle - Flavor of the Month
Pears are one of my favorite fruits, and they are just coming into season! Is there a better time to celebrate them?
Pears come into season in the fall and are available almost all winter. And while the Barlett pear is probably the most common in the produce aisle, there is a wonderful variety of pears available this time of year. But which one to use in our truffle? Time for a tasting!
Did I mention how hard being a chocolatier is?? haha
So which pear was the winner? The tiny little Seckel pear packs the perfect sweet punch with a firm but not grainy texture. Read more about the seckel variety from the Pear Bureau Northwest.
So I pair this fresh pureed pear with a great Spiced Pear Liqueur from St George Spirits in Alameda, California (see a review of the spirit here) within a Belgian milk chocolate ganache. Soft texture, sweet pear and a slight heat from the cinnamon and clove to finish. This truffle makes me ready for fall!
Crème brûlée truffle - our flavor of the month
Our flavor of the month is an exploration of texture in chocolate for our upcoming Sugar Love University course: Seminar in Textures. Crème brûlée is traditionally topped with a hard sugar shell that is too fun to crack with your spoon. And then the soft creaminess of the custard below is amazing. So how to recreate it?
I think we've gotten pretty close with this! A white chocolate and Madagascar vanilla make for a creamy ganache center. Then separately, I've torched a vanilla bean sugar for the topping. It gives a wonderful crunch to an otherwise smooth truffle experience. And because a flame melts the sugars for the topping, you get that flavor that a crème brûlée has from the same process.
Being the ever-critic of my own work, I would have liked to get that eggy, custard-like flavor for the center but I couldn't figure out a way to get that without needing to worry about refrigeration. Real crème brûlées are stored in the fridge until they are coated with sugar, torched and served. While my chocolates need to be kept at roughly room temperature (they're happiest from about 55-70 degrees) and need to last for 2-3 weeks from the time you purchase. Hrm... a problem I hope to solve one day! If you have any suggestions on how to potentially make these more custard-like in taste - shoot me an email at krysta (a) sugarlovechocolates.com
Oh and as always - here's a photo of my "research" - this is a crème brûlée from Wild River Grill which is right across the street in downtown Reno, Nevada. Also, they serve some of the best dry-aged steaks in town.
Maple Bacon Truffle
Every month, I love to create a new recipe for the store. For June, with Father's Day coming up, I made the Maple Bacon truffle. Because dads love bacon, right? And I know they love chocolate as they tell me all the time - it's helpful having a store next to a great barber.
And yes - it has bacon in it! I use a slightly dehydrated bacon that's in small diced chunks. The maple syrup (which also acts as this recipe's preservative) is boiled for two minutes to reduce the amount of water for a stronger maple flavor. The two are then mixed into a milk chocolate ganache made from the Belgian milk chocolate.
The result is a warm flavor with the taste of maple first and then the last flavor is of the bacon as you chew its texture. It's an interesting one for sure! And only available during June 2016 and by special order after July 1st.