Passion Tea Truffles

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Do you have certain routines that you look forward to every day? For me, it’s after dinnertime. My husband fills the tea pot and sets it on the stove before heading to the pantry. He breaks us each off a square of chocolate to enjoy while we clean up and wait for the whistle of the kettle.

Our tea of choice is Tazo Passion, which is a blend of hibiscus, rose hip, and orange. The chocolate is always dark and usually has a hint of sea salt or a slight crunch of almond. With tea in hand and melted chocolate on the tongue, we head to the living room to catch our breath and reconnect after a busy day.

I’ve long wanted to develop a truffle recipe that blends our love of tea and chocolate but tempering the chocolate for the shell evaded me time and again until recently.

In January, I was given the opportunity to take a course from Learning with Experts and it didn’t take me long to decide which one it would be: The Art of Chocolate Making taught by Paul A.Young. I learned how to make the creamiest ganache, how to temper chocolate, how to make filled chocolates, plus multiple decorating techniques.

Each of the four pre-recorded lessons included a hands-on assignment to practice the skills taught. I was always a little nervous to turn mine in! Once I turned in the assignment, the next lesson was unlocked. Paul always took the time to comment on the assignment with helpful tips and encouraging feedback.

I’ve taken online classes before but none that taught me as many skills as this series did. I’m so excited to be able to share some of the techniques I learned.

Yet maybe you want more than one blog post? I encourage you to check out the class for yourself and make the handmade chocolates you’ve always dreamed of.

What is a Truffle

A chocolate truffle (not the fungi) is a confection consisting of rolled ganache coated with tempered chocolate or cocoa.

How to Make Ganache

Ganache is chocolate mixed with liquid. The high liquid to chocolate ratio keeps the chocolate from seizing and instead creates a soft mousse-like texture. In the class, my instructor Paul, recommended starting with melted chocolate to help ensure a smooth ganache. After it cools and is chilled in the refrigerator, the ganache is rolled into balls to create the center of the truffle.

Tips for Rolling Ganache into Balls

Once chilled, ganache is semi-solid and a little sticky. Paul taught us to dip our fingers in cocoa powder and then roll the ganache in between our fingers. It works perfectly!

How to Temper Dark Chocolate

Two different methods: tabletop and seeding. I’m using the seeding method, which is the best method for tempering small amounts of chocolate. It works by adding tempered chocolate to a bowl of melted chocolate and then stirring continuously. Having a scale to measure the chocolate and an accurate thermometer for reading temperatures is crucial for success. Full instructions are below in the recipe.

Tips for Tempering Chocolate

  • Use a quality chocolate that tastes good. I like Ghiradelli.
  • Don’t use chocolate chips. I’m always tempted to substitute but I tried it with chips and it really did not turn out well.
  • Use a quick read digital thermometer (such as a Thermapen)
  • Use metal bowls for the best temperature control.
  • Temper chocolate when you have the time to work uninterrupted from start to finish.
  • Set a square of parchment next to the bowl and spread a little chocolate on it to check to see if it is tempered.
  • Stir continuously at a moderate rate.
Stir chocolate at this speed.

Working with Tempered Chocolate

In all honesty, this was the hardest part for me. I was always in a rush and thought if I worked quickly enough that I could skip this step. Wrong! By the fourth lesson of the class, I made my peace with the fact that I need to warm the chocolate before using it. The goal is to keep the chocolate between 86℉ and 88℉, but not above 90℉. This temperature range ensures that the chocolate is fluid and won’t set too quickly.

  • Use a hair dryer or heat gun to gently warm the chocolate for a few seconds.
  • Place a towel under the bowl to slow the cooling process.

Coating in Tempered Chocolate

For a professional-looking truffle, the trick is to coat the ganache balls in two very thin layers of tempered chocolate. Paul taught us to dip our fingers in the chocolate and roll the ganache in the chocolate on our fingers. The tempered chocolate sets almost immediately and then once coated, start at the beginning and give each a second coat. It really is quite satisfying to see shiny chocolate truffles lined up on a baking sheet.

Decorating Truffles

While these truffles are pretty enough on their own, it’s quite fun adding a little embellishment. Brush edible glitter on the dried chocolate truffle for a pop of color or pipe thin lines over the truffles with the leftover tempered chocolate.

It feels so good to finally have the chocolate skills needed to make my Passion Truffle dreams a reality! Tazo Passion Tea adds a slightly floral flavor to the creamy ganache, perfect for celebrating the beginning of Spring. I love the satisfying crunch that the tempered chocolate shell gives each bite. These bite-sized chocolates are satisfyingly decadent without being heavy and I hope you give them a try!

Passion Tea Truffles

Ganache

  • 160 g (6 oz) dark chocolate, melted
  • 160 g (scant ¾ cup) cream
  • 60 g (1/3 cup) granulated sugar
  • 1 Passion tea bag, tag removed
  • One strip of orange peel
  • Pinch of kosher salt

Tempered Chocolate Coating:

  • 300 g (11 oz) dark chocolate, divided and chopped
  • 1/4 cup cocoa powder, for rolling ganache

Make the ganache: Mix cream, sugar, tea, orange peel, and salt in a small saucepan and bring to a simmer over low heat, stirring occasionally. Take off heat and let it steep for two minutes. Stir to thoroughly distribute. Remove the tea bag and orange peel and pour tea mixture over melted chocolate. Whisk to combine into a smooth homogeneous ganache. Pour into a wide container and allow to cool to room temperature. Cover and refrigerate for an hour or overnight.

Rolling ganache: Bring ganache out of the refrigerator and cover a baking sheet with parchment paper. Pour cocoa powder into a small bowl. Scoop a 1/2 tablespoon of ganache into your hand, dip fingers in cocoa powder and roll ganache into balls. Set on the baking sheet and continue until all the ganache is used. You should have between 30-40 balls.

Temper the chocolate: Fill a small pot with two inches of water and bring to a simmer. Fill a metal bowl with 200 g (7 oz) of chopped chocolate and set on top of the simmering water. Stir with a spatula and melt until chocolate reaches 140℉, about five minutes. Take the melted chocolate off the pot and dry the bowl with a towel.

Add the remaining 100 g (3.5 oz) of chopped chocolate to the melted chocolate, and stir at a moderate pace. Ensure that the bottom of the spatula is touching the bottom of the bowl and that the chocolate on the side of the bowl doesn’t harden. Stir continuously until the chocolate reaches 81℉, about 20 minutes. Test that the chocolate is tempered by spreading some on a square of parchment. Continue stirring and once the test is dry, shiny, and minus any swirling, the tempering is complete. Grab the heat gun (or hair dryer) and warm the chocolate to 86-88℉.

Coat the ganache: Dip fingers in tempered chocolate and roll the ball on your fingers to coat and place back on the baking sheet. Continue until all the balls are covered. Repeat for a second layer.

Decorate truffles: Brush edible glitter onto the truffles or pipe a simple decoration using any remaining chocolate.

Store: Store finished truffles in an air-tight container at room temperature for one week.

Rocky Road Candy

For kids and parents alike, summer break is like Christmas in July. As parents we spend months planning vacations and scheduling camps to somehow make this summer just as good (or better!) than last years. The kids are giddy with excitement with each passing day, until finally school is out and summer break is here.

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A Christmas Puzzle in July anyone?

Right as summer break started this year, one child and then the other came down with pneumonia, added on top of oral surgery for the youngest sandwiched in between. Spending the first precious weeks of summer running to the doctor, taking medicine and staying inside day after precious day, and you can imagine that I was feeling pretty sorry for myself and my kids, too. I needed to salvage this summer somehow.

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With little thought or planning, I decided to break out the crafts and celebrate Christmas in July. I dug out the Christmas puzzle that we hadn’t quite had enough time to put together. Then, I bought soft wool and began needle felting delicate balls for a new garland for the mantel. Now all I needed was some special treats to munch on to top off our celebration.

In our family, making candy is as much a holiday tradition as baking cookies. Though summer is typically a time for fruit pies and homemade ice cream, making homemade candy is the perfect treat for a sweltering kitchen.

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Marshmallows snipped into perfect sized chunks

Candy is simpler than you may think. No oven required and done more quickly than the first complaints of summer boredom. Candy is the perfect summer concoction.

With dreams of marshmallows, instead of chestnuts, roasting over the open fire and cold lemonade, instead of hot cocoa, in my cup; I decide to make the dream a reality and make a batch of  rocky road candy. Gooey marshmallows combined with chocolate, nuts and a heavy sprinkling of smoked salt brings us right to the crackling campfire that summer nights are made of.

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Smoked salt for the win

Most rocky road recipes include sweetened condensed milk so when I found this recipe from Alice Medrich that contains only chocolate, marshmallows and nuts, I knew I had to try it. The simpleness of this recipe allows for the ingredients to really shine. Buy chocolate tasty enough to eat and you won’t be disappointed.

Happy summer and may all your summer dreams come true.

Rocky Road Candy

You will want a candy thermometer to make this recipe (and most candies for that matter).  I have a simple one that does the job but am putting an instant-read digital on my wish list. Successful candy making requires accurate temperatures and reading a foggy thermometer is stress I don’t need.

Use any chocolate that you want, but I used semi-sweet Callebrut, found sold in bulk for a good price, that I would highly recommend. Chocolate chips worked fine though and is definitely the most economical choice.

Also, buying regular sized marshmallows and snipping them into quarters, instead of mini marshmallows, is totally worth the extra effort. The quartered marshmallows are slightly bigger and are softer in texture than the minis.

Smoked salt is a finishing salt that I found in the bulk section. Maldon salt would be a great choice and it’s sold on Amazon for a few dollars.

Makes 1.5 pounds

Adapted from Alice Medrich

Ingredients:

  • 16 regular sized marshmallows, quartered (4 ounces)
  • 1 cup pecan halves, chopped and roasted and cooled
  • 1 pound chocolate, chopped
  • 1/2 – 1 teaspoon smoked salt

Directions:

Cover a baking sheet with parchment paper. Melt chocolate slowly in a saucepan and stir regularly to keep it from scorching. Once melted, take off heat and scrape into a medium bowl. Clip on a candy thermometer and stir with a spatula until it cools to 90°F.

Once cooled to 90°F, dump in the pecans and marshmallows. Stir to coat marshmallows and nuts evenly. Scrape into a log shape, roughly 3×10 and sprinkle with smoked salt. Place pan in refrigerator until the candy is dry and firm to the touch. This will take about 20 minutes.

Remove from refrigerator and cut into thick strips with a serrated knife. I found that pieces 1×3 were a nice size. Store in an air-tight container in the refrigerator.

The Tastiest Bite

I don’t think of myself as a writer. Growing up, my twin sister was the writer. I wrote in a journal nightly and spent just as much time devouring books as she did; but I always saw it as her thing. She seemed better at it and more determined. Rebekah knew it was what she wanted. Maybe I didn’t want to be a copy cat or was tired of the twin cliche but I never thought writing would be my line of work. Finding myself at a food writing workshop was as surprising to me as discovering I like to cook, especially after all those years telling myself I didn’t.

For me, food writing is a form of self reflection (something I clearly need more of). It’s about slowing down and focusing on what was just in my mouth. Remembering the textures, colors and feelings that the food elicits. In an attempt to improve this skill, Naomi Tomky suggests this exercise: write 200 words on the best food eaten that day.

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Day 1

The Tastiest Bite(s) on Valentine’s Day

I had many memorable bites yesterday, much more than a normal Wednesday. An ethereal, creamy vegetable soup topped with crisp speck and cold goat cheese was generously handed to me for lunch by a thoughtful friend at The Shop. Before leaving, I was given a decadent piece of chocolate cake layered with blood orange Italian buttercream. Both warmed my heart and made my taste buds dance in delight.

I was also surprised with chocolate covered strawberries by another friend yesterday afternoon. In all honesty, chocolate and fruit aren’t my favorite combination but these strawberries changed my opinion. They looked so inviting on the tray with the thick coat of dark chocolate enveloping the juicy strawberry.  I picked a strawberry up by its green top and took a bite. The thick chocolate shell shattered to reveal the ruby strawberry inside. My mouth was filled with both flavors simultaneously. Soft, sweet and juicy strawberry with bitter, crunchy chocolate.

My Valentine and I drank a special brut rosé that I had saved since receiving it at Christmas from my brother and sister-in-law and it did not disappoint. After dinner was done and the kids were almost tucked into bed, I heard the familiar whirl of our popcorn maker. This was definitely not our normal Wednesday. Warm and kissed with butter and salt, we cuddled on the couch munching popcorn as we watched our Olympians fly down the mountain. Love came in many forms on Valentine’s Day but most memorably was the sharing of food and drink together.

What was your tastiest bite yesterday?