Saturday, December 19, 2009

Chocolate Truffles with a Hard Outer Coating

I found a super easy truffle recipe online so I decided to make truffles on this snowy Saturday, but I didn't really like the chocolate combination the recipe called for and I also didn't like that the outer coating chocolate was not tempered, so I decided to change that as well.

The recipe is adapted from The Pioneer Woman (, but I've changed some of the essentials.

8 oz bittersweet chocolate. Depending on what you like, you can use 60% cacao, but I bought 70% at the store because I'm not as much of a fan of 60%.
8 oz semi sweet chocolate.
Small can of Sweetened Condensed milk

Over a double boiler of simmering water, add the chocolate and the sweetened condensed milk. Keep mixing until totally melted. Put in the refrigerator for about 2 hours so it can become workable. After 2 hours, take chocolate out of the refrigerator and roll chocolate into small balls. This will become the middle of the truffle.

Once all the chocolate is rolled into small balls, it is time to temper the chocolate. Tempering means heating and cooling chocolate to dip or coat things. Tempering will also give chocolate a nice shine and won't melt in your fingers. Those truffles from Godiva and Lindt have a tempered chocolate coating. When you temper, it just means that you are distributing the crystals evenly in the chocolate. For tempering, you need a candy thermometer. Make sure it measures temperatures under 100 degrees as well as over.

While the process of tempering is easy, you have to remember that chocolate is very very picky.

Here is the method I use to temper chocolate as adapted from Ghirardelli's website:

Grate or chop the desired amount of chocolate. Place two-thirds of the chocolate in the top pan of a double boiler. Heat over hot, not boiling, water, stirring constantly, until chocolate reaches 110°–115°F.
Place the top pan of the double boiler on a towel. Cool to 95°–100°F. Add the remaining chocolate to the top pan, stirring until melted. The chocolate is now ready to be used for molding candies, coating, or dipping.
When you take the chocolate off the stove and start dipping, it cools very quickly. Stay near the stove and warm the chocolate on the double boiler every so often so it does not harden as you dip. It is very hard to get the chocolate as perfect as the store bought truffles, but that's what makes these special. Let them sit out for awhile to harden. Immediately after dipping each truffle, you can add a topping to it, like toasted coconut or nuts or anything else. You might want a friend to help you with this part because like I said, properly tempered chocolate will harden quickly. So irresistible!

have fun:)

Monday, December 14, 2009

Devil's Food Cupcakes with a Vanilla Buttercream Frosting

I haven't baked since Thanksgiving. Since the semester is drawing to a close and the work was piling up, I decided to take a bit of a hiatus, but now that I have a month and a week off (ahem!), I'll be doing lots more baking. To start things off I made these:

Are they not just the cutest, most scrumptious things you have ever seen? The recipe was so easy, and, I think, if you're going to go through the trouble of making homemade cupcakes then you might as well make your own frosting. This frosting is a basic buttercream. It's a little on the sweet side, but the cupcakes are not sweet at all due to the unsweetened cocoa, so the flavors balance out nicely. I used a large star tip to apply the icing.

I got the cupcake recipe from the Cupcake Bakeshop blog by Chockylit, who is just the queen of anything cupcakes. She can make cupcakes from absolutely any ingredients. Anyway here is the recipe:

Devil's Food Chocolate Cake
makes 24 cupcakes or over 50  mini/ 350 degree oven

2 cups flour
2 cups sugar
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1-1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1-1/2 cups milk
1/2 cup butter
2 teaspoons vanilla
2 eggs

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

1. Measure out everything but the eggs directly into your mixer bowl.
2. Mix on low speed just until incorporated.
3. Beat on high speed for 2 minutes.
4. Add eggs, beat on high speed again for 2 minutes.

Measure out into cupcake pan lined with cupcake papers (or grease each cup if you're like me and don't like buying cupcake papers that will just be thrown away anyway). Bake for about 15-20 minutes until a toothpick comes out clean. Let cool slightly in the pan then transfer to a rack to cool completely before frosting. 

As you saw in the picture above, I did mini cupcakes. The cooking time for these was about 15 minutes. If you decide to do mini cupcakes as well, fill each cup about 3/4 full.

Here's my Buttercream Frosting recipe:

This made a little less than I thought, so you may want to make a serving and a half of icing.

2 cups confectioners sugar
a little bit of vanilla
1 stick butter at room temp.
2 tablespoons milk

With electric mixer, cream the butter until creamy. Make sure to scrape the sides of the bowl. Add in the vanilla once the butter is creamy. Add the confectioners sugar a little at a time, beating slowly after each addition. Once all the confectioners sugar is blended in, add in the milk and mix until it looks like it is spreadable.

Make sure the cupcakes are completely cool before icing. To ice, you can either use a spatula or use a piping bag with a large star, which is what I did. Don't ice them too much!

Have Fun!