Truffles, Part 2: The Rolling

I was so excited that my ganache came out not only useable but tasty that I could not wait to roll truffles. I also haven’t made them in *ages*—despite being a founding member and teaching truffle-making classes for the MIT Laboratory for Chocolate Science, I don’t have that many opportunities to make truffles.

Rolling ganache in cashews

Luckily for me, this ganache was also really easy to roll. With the consistency of modeling clay, I had no trouble mushing in chopped cashews, even when they were chopped too finely and not finely enough at the same time. (Stupid chopper. Alternately, user error. PEBFAC*)

Cashew truffle insides

4 cups of ganache makes a lot of chocolate, so I eventually got bored with cashews and ran out of those I’d pre-chopped. I decided to try rolling the ganache in coconut *and* cashews, which worked *really really well*. The coconut (very finely pre-shredded, by someone with an industrial process of some sort) sticks to the ganache beautifully, even when I have already smushed cashews into it.

Cashew and Coconut Cashew Truffle Insides

But I also got bored with that. I decided to try cherries. I have a bag of really tart dried cherries that I love (and so does my Assistant Baker, who calls them “Cherry Raisins”) that I thought might make a nice contrast with the dark chocolate. I tried just surrounding one in a truffle, but it was not enough cherry—the chocolate completely dominated. I settled on a method that is, essentially, smushing as many dried cherries as possible together with ganache until you have a ball of approximately the right size that stays together. Really tasty. I have high hopes for this one.

Stay tuned for Truffles, Part 3: The Dipping, and Four Cups of Ganache is Really Too Muchor “What am I going to do witht the rest of this?!?

*Problem Exists Between Floor and Chocolate. A variant of PEBKAC: problem exists between keyboard and chair

Blueberry Pancakes

Apparently, the secret to good pancakes with frozen blueberries (not to mention beautiful browning) is lower heat. This time, I set my griddle to 325F, instead of my usual 350F or the griddle’s recommended 375F, and they came out *beautiful* They take longer, of course, but I was already committed to a slightly slow process, as I was making them with a toddler. (She cracked the eggs! Actually into the bowl! Without (much) shell! Okay, back to food—this is not the baby blog)

Recipe

Adapted from Joy of Cooking

  • 3 c flour
  • 3 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 12 tbsp dry buttermilk powder

Mix together well in a very big bowl.

  • 4 eggs
  • 6 tbsp melted butter
  • 3 c water

Whisk the eggs, butter and water together in another bowl. Try not to let your assistant spill the bowl onto the counter as you pour the wet ingredients into the dry. Stir until combined.

 

Blueberry Pancake Batter

Now plug in the griddle, and set it to 325F. Let the batter sit while the griddle gets warm.

  • 1 lb frozen blueberries

Pour in all the blueberries, and stir as little as possible to distribute them evenly into the batter. If you stir too much, you will have purple pancakes (so if you *want* purple pancakes, stir more or defrost the blueberries first.)

 

Pancakes on the Griddle

Spoon the batter onto the griddle 1/3c (or so) at a time. This will make 6 at a time on my griddle. Wait until the edges are starting to solidify and the first blueberry pops before turning. If they are getting too dark, reduce the heat a little.

Serve with maple syrup and your favorite tea. Makes a lot, so you may want to freeze the extras—this is twice as much batter as the JoC recipe I started from.

Potato Soup

Yesterday was a cold*, grey day here in the Watch City—the perfect kind of day for soup. Last week’s CSA box was full of potatoes, and I love potato soup, so that settled it. I do not, however, have a favorite recipe. After reading half a dozen, I decided to wing it.

Recipe

  • 4 tbsp (approximately) of butter
  • 1 medium onion, roughly chopped

Toss the onion in with the butter. More fastidious cooks would say to melt the butter first, but it didn’t seem to matter.

How to start cooking anything

 

  • 8-10 (or whatever you have) medium-sized potatoes, cut in 1″ pieces.
  • Enough water to not-quite cover the potatoes.

 

Boiling Potatoes

I told you I wasn’t fastidious, right? Nor precise. You were warned. I really think that you could use a lot more or a lot less potatoes. I had somewhere between 8 and 10 potatoes, which seemed like enough. I also didn’t peel them, I just scrubbed them with a Dobie (nylon kitchen scubbing sponge, good for everything!), chopped them and tossed them in. I boiled the potatoes for probably 30 minutes, until they were quite soft and tender, but the timing was more dependent on how long it took me to get a minute to check on them while entertaining a toddler than the precise cooking time they actually *needed*. This recipe is very forgiving. (My favorite kind!)

  • Salt and pepper to taste, maybe some garlic or other spices.
  • Some milk or cream

I didn’t even measure these. I added some salt and pepper and tasted it, and added maybe a teaspoon of garlic. I’m not sure it was tasteable. When the soup was done, I let it cool a bit because it was too early for dinner. When it was time to eat, I pureéd it with the immersion blender, comforted the toddler who *hates* the immersion blender, and put it back on the stove. I let her help me pour in some milk to get over her tears, so it was “until it looked like the right consistency”.

  • Shredded cheddar cheese
  • bread or crackers.

Potato Soup and Cheese!

I actually didn’t shred the cheese at first, because I am lazy, but it made a big difference. Shredded cheese melted into the soup a lot better than even a thin slice. If you wanted to be really decadent, you could put a piece of bread in the bottom of an oven-safe bowl, pour some soup over, put cheese on top and stick it under the broiler (I just thought of that, and may now have to try it with the leftovers!)

 

*Yes, I know it’s not cold for February in New England. You can have days that are cold-enough-for-soup in July. It’s a relative thing.

How Not to Make Ganache (or "Truffles, Part 1: The Ganache")

I used the food processor to break up the 90% (read: very bitter, not sweet) Valrhona chocolate I bought last month at Whole Foods. The food processor is not airtight, which we have previously observed with flour. It is also not chocolate-powder tight. That whole area of the counter and part of the floor were covered with chocolate dust.

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What I got out looked more like coffee grounds than chocolate: FF5A424E-FDB7-4227-82F9-3C9DC51E1F88.JPG

I got about 2 cups of chocolate grounds out of the 1# block of chocolate, and added it to my 2c of heated cream. The result was really bitter, so I added .5c of maple syrup. I’m not sure which did it, but either the water in the syrup (which I should have reduced) or the super-thick cream (a local, organic cream I found at WF) or the powdered chocolate caused the ganache to seize: F52A3333-EA64-4571-9CF0-114B0F502692.JPG

The result was a bowl of somewhat gritty chocolate, surrounded by a pool of ugly yellow liquid: 5348B181-9C3F-4933-8712-698CD545AE21.JPG

I consulted my local chocolate expert and she told me that seized ganache is *not* the end of the world—often it can be saved. On her advice, I poured off the liquid and put the ganache in the refrigerator to cool as usual.

This morning, I was pleasantly surprised to discover a bowl of completely useable, tasty ganache in my refrigerator! DSC_5230.JPG There are a few marbled areas where I didn’t pour off all the yellow liquid fat, but they can either be dug out or mashed into the truffles as I roll them.

Stay Tuned for Part 2: Truffles, The Rolling

Celery Soup

More fun using old cookbooks!  I had a lot of celery, so I made celery soup. I merged two recipes: the 1896 Fannie Farmer cookbook celery soup recipe, and the How to Cook Everything braised celery recipe:

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The Fannie Farmer recipe calls for boiling the celery, which seemed like it would waste some tasty nutrients:

1896 Fannie Farmer Cookbook: Celery Soup

So instead I braised the celery, according to the recipe in How to Cook Everything Vegetarian. (I didn’t know you could braise celery, but apparently it’s really tasty even by itself!) It certainly made a great base to the soup. I also sautéed the onion in butter a little before adding the milk, because it’s just tastier that way. I did not push anything through the sieve—I left the onions in, and used an immersion blender, so there were little flecks of green in the final bit of soup. My one mistake was not cooking the butter and flour together to make a proper roux (I should have used a second pot, perhaps?) so there was a little bit of raw flour flavor in the soup. Not too bad, though.

I didn’t take a picture of the final product, so you will have to use your imaginations!  Next time 🙂

Old Fashioned Peanut Butter Cookies

I got a new cookie sheet!

New Volrath, Old Volrath

And I had some extra egg yolk, so I made peanut-butter cookies. The Betty Crocker Cookie Book is from the 1960s:

Betty Crocker Cookie Book

but the cookies are really good. (Even when I can’t roll them, like the Spiral Marble Cookies

I also got some cookie scoops for Christmas. I’ve never had one before—what a fun toy!

Using the Cookie Scoop

The cookies also turned out pretty well.  The first batch seemed too dry to me, so I added a little peanut oil. That made them a lot easier to work, but B didn’t like the flavor of the second batch as much. None of them went spare, though, when we brought them to a party!

Peanut Butter Cookies