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candy cane crunch and vanilla coconut truffles

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Do you have candy canes lingering around the house after Christmas? If so, this recipe will make delicious use out of them.

Back in college I made truffles for Christmas one year with my cousin. It was a lot of work and time-consuming; hence, I’ve never had the motivation to do it again. Then Autumn Martin entered my life and I was inspired to give it another go. Autumn is kind, talented, funny and willing to share her knowledge of chocolate to anyone and everyone. In fact, many pay to take chocolate classes she teaches because she is the former Head Chocolatier of Theo Chocolates and before that Pastry Chef of Canlis; so she kind of knows what she’s talking about. She’s gone out on her own now and started Hot Cakes Confections. Did I forget to mention she isn’t even 30 yet??!! I had the pleasure of assisting two of Autumn’s classes at Dish it up! and realized truffle making isn’t difficult at all. (At the bottom of this post look for information on how to find Autumn’s confections and my praise for her salted caramel sauce.)

 

Sorry this one is a bit blurry, the ganache was difficult to photograph.

With Autumn’s basic ganache recipe, I was ready to get started. I decided to use Theo’s seasonal Peppermint Stick Chocolate bar as inspiration and created a crunchy peppermint truffle using crushed candy canes. At the last-minute, before I added the candy canes, I scooped out a few tablespoons of ganache to make vanilla coconut truffles also. Ganache is a fancy French word for melted chocolate and cream, it can be used for frosting and filling, in addition to truffles. It doesn’t harden up like melted chocolate alone, it stiffens up but is malleable and can easily be reheated.

Autumn pipes the ganache into a Hershey Kiss-like shape and after a few hours rolls them into truffles. I tried piping them with my Ziplock bag and they were pretty ugly, but it didn’t matter because I rolled them into balls anyway. For the vanilla truffles I left the ganache in the bowl and once it stiffened up I used my melon baller to scoop out the chocolate. A regular tablespoon will work for this also.

If you decide to give truffle making a try, get as creative as you want; use nuts, flavor extracts, liqueurs, citrus zest….the possibilites are endless. I’m going to try champagne truffles next!

Don’t let the length of the directions below scare you, I’m just being over informative! It truly is easy.

Autumn’s Simple Ganache

12 oz. chocolate (I used bittersweet chocolate)
8 oz (half pint) heavy cream
1 oz honey

My Additions
candy canes, crushed (I used 8 small candy canes)
pure vanilla extract
sweetened shredded coconut
3-4 oz semisweet chocolate

The brand of chocolate I used was Callebaut that I bought in the bulk bins at my favorite market. I measured out exactly the 12 ounces I needed on the produce scales. I cut my bulk chocolate into smaller pieces and put in a large bowl and set aside.

Heat your cream over medium heat and once it starts to come to a soft boil, remove and pour over the chocolate. Stir this mixture until you have a creamy chocolate mixture. You now have ganache! Add the honey and stir to combine. I didn’t measure the honey, I added some, tasted it then added more. (I’m not sure if adding honey is Autumn’s secret ingredient; as I’ve never seen this added before, but I really like the not-to-sweet sweetness is adds.) After about an hour and a half, when the mixture had cooled down but was still soft, I scooped three large spoonfuls of the ganache into a small bowl where I stirred in two capfuls of pure vanilla extract. I stirred the crushed candy canes into the remaining ganache. (You can stir the extras in right away if you choose, I waited an hour and half because I realized I didn’t have enough candy canes and dashed to the store.)

Whether you pipe the ganache or let it cool in the bowl, leave it be for about four hours before you roll them into truffles. Like I said above, I piped and scooped from the bowl and had the same results. With both methods, I put the truffles onto parchment paper lined cookie sheets.

For the vanilla truffles, after I rolled each one into a truffle shaped ball I then rolled it into the coconut pressing down slightly. (And no, I did not toast the coconut for these.) I placed them all back onto the parchment lined cookie sheet.

The truffles to the left haven't been coated in chocolate like the truffles to the right.

For the candy cane crunch truffles, I got a little fancy for about half of them. I decided to coat them into another batch of melted chocolate to give them a hard shell. I used the easiest tempering method possible. Break up the semisweet chocolate into small pieces and microwave for 30 seconds, stir. If the chocolate hasn’t started to melt, microwave for another 30 seconds. This should be enough… continue to stir until all the chocolate is melted. Dip the truffles into the melted chocolate coating the entire surface. I used a fork to help me with this process. Place back on the parchment lined cookies sheet and let cool until you have a hard chocolate coating.

You now have truffles!

Hot Cakes Confections makes the best salted caramel sauce I’ve ever tasted. I drizzle it over apples, pears, pour it over ice cream and if nobody is looking eat a spoonful of it. Autumn does make a vegan version of this that I haven’t tried yet, but I bought some for my mom to try. I also bought her the molten chocolate cake that comes in a vegan variety. I’ve tried the regular molten cake with caramel sauce drizzled over it and yummy! Both the caramel sauces and molten cakes come in cute little glass jars that are reusable as well! Autumn also makes and sells other delicious items like cookies and pocket pies. I’ve purchased my confections at the Sunday Ballard Farmers Market, but refer to Autumn’s website for retail locations. Give her confections a taste, you won’t be sorry.

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