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August 16, 2009 8:51 PM   Subscribe

Food science question and recipe request. When making a flavored ganache for truffles, should the flavoring be added to the cream or to the chocolate?

I want to make some flavored truffles for a special someone. When making something like chili or balsamic truffles, should I add the flavoring to the cold chocolate, the hot cream, or the mixture? Does it change depending on the flavoring? I was thinking chili should infuse into the cream as it heats, while the (nice, aged) balsamic should be added to the warm half mixed ganache to preserve it's flavor.
Am I missing something, or is this complete bean plating and flavor is flavor?
Feel free to share any tried and true recipes for orgasm inducing truffles.
posted by piedmont to Food & Drink (11 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
I'm no expert but I agree with you that something hard and dry like a chili or vanilla bean should be infused in the cream, while something delicate like balsamic or vanilla extract should be added at the end when it can't boil away.
posted by CunningLinguist at 9:15 PM on August 16, 2009

Both the cream and the chocolate are oil-based, though one is veg and the other animal. I'm assuming you're adding oil-based flavourings, e.g. chili has capsaicin which is oil-soluble, so what I'd do is add the flavour to the mixed ganache when it's all a liquid.

How long the flavouring oil spends in the ganache before cooling would depend on what it is... if it needs to infuse out of a solid (capsaicin from chili seeds) then a longer time would be better but if it's volatile and likely to evaporate then as short a time as possible. But you probably don't want to leave chili seeds in your ganache and it's a bit thick to filter.

Balsamic? As in vinegar that's water-based? Not sure how you'll get that to mix with the ganache without it separating or curdling. Maybe if you did the infusing directly into the ganache with whatever people infuse the vinegar with in the first place (balsam!?).

Best option I think is to make a concentrated flavouring oil beforehand and mix that into the ganache. That requires soaking a large quantity of the flavour-bearing solids in a small quantity of oil to leach the good stuff out - think of making a chili-oil.
posted by polyglot at 9:32 PM on August 16, 2009

It depends a little bit on the technique that you are using to make your ganache. The easiest way that I know of is to heat up the cream with the flavoring and pour it over the chocolate to melt the chocolate. If you are heating everything up in a double boiler then it won't make much difference. Balsamic will hold its flavor very well when added to the cream. I would recommend reducing the balsamic separately before adding it to the cream. It is a little harder to get the flavor adjusted correctly when using chilis as the flavor will change when the ganache is cool but dried pasilla chili truffles are worth the work.
posted by calumet43 at 9:37 PM on August 16, 2009

Response by poster: Is there a noticeable difference in the end result with double boiler vs simmered cream?
Also, since this is real balsamic vinegar, it'll already nearly coat the back of a spoon. Reducing it would be insane.
posted by piedmont at 9:57 PM on August 16, 2009

Last Christmas I made cherry truffles for the lab. They went over pretty well. Just basic dark chocolate truffles with a judicious amount of almond extract (not cherry extract or liqueur which I couldn't get last minute anyway) with a dried sour cherry in the center. Then drizzle the truffles with thin lines of white chocolate. By judicious I mean something like 1/2 to 3/4 teaspoon extract per pound of chocolate. I wanted it on the subtle side.

Way better than the usual cherry cordial I thought.

Oh, and I added the extract at the end to the mostly mixed cream and melted chocolate.
posted by sevenless at 10:40 PM on August 16, 2009

make a small test by adding the balsamic to a small quantity of the ganache and see how it behaves. My guess is that the best option would be to add it to the cooling ganache.

Another idea: inject the already formed truffles with a syringe to form a small air bubble inside, and then inject the balsamic in there once the truffles have completely cooled - chocolatey goodness with surprise semi-fluid balsamic interior! (for texture, you might also try to mix the balsamic with a (cooled) dense water/sugar syrup.

(re: double boiler vs. simmered, I've noticed no difference; though cream, as milk, changes in taste when brought to a boil, usually the intense chocolate flavor covers that)

more (more or less) unusual orgasm-inducing1 truffles (final result tested, not recipe): szechuan pepper, pink pepper, allspice, cinnamon, rosemary [!], sage, fresh [ORGANIC!] orange zest (powdered or finely chopped, simmered with the cream, filtered away), mint extract (a few drops mixed with the ganache), sea salt (very finely powdered, mixed with the ganache)

I'd also try a nice chinese green tea or even a semi-fermented, flowery like a Golden Yunnan or a jasmine tea (perhaps steeped a minute in hot water to remove a bit of tannins, before simmering the leaves in the cream). I'd even try a smoky lapsang, but that's probably just me (I love tea).

1: your results may vary
posted by _dario at 10:42 PM on August 16, 2009

My most favorite truffle recipe involves steeping good quality (i.e. solid leaves instead of dusty dust) loose-leaf Earl Grey tea in the hot cream, straining that through a wire mesh sieve to remove the tea leaves, and then pouring the cream over the chopped chocolate to melt it and form the ganache. I think Earl Grey is actually infused with bergamot, a kind of orangey essence, so you get this kind of exotic, unfamiliar, fruity flavor with the chocolate. It's fantastic.
posted by vytae at 8:28 AM on August 17, 2009

Response by poster: What do you coat these Earl Grey truffles in?
posted by piedmont at 4:07 PM on August 17, 2009

What do you coat these Earl Grey truffles in?

More chocolate! Darker is better.
posted by vytae at 4:23 PM on August 17, 2009

Actually, now that I think about it harder, I'm pretty sure the original recipe suggested rolling them in a very light dusting of unsweetened cocoa powder. Personally I find it kind of off-putting and chalky/bitter that way, but perhaps others will like it.
posted by vytae at 4:24 PM on August 17, 2009

I tend to add alcohol to the ganache after I've melted it with the cream, just because the alcohol affects how the cream simmers, and also because I worry about losing the aromatics from the liqueur. For non-alcohol based flavors, though, I usually add them to the cream.
posted by jacquilynne at 7:18 PM on August 17, 2009

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