Truffles

rain

Yep, monsoon’s still here. No more about that.

It is more than a serious problem when you’re still learning how to cook and are allergic to following recipes, at the same time. Its still manageable when either of the above is true. But when both are obvious and you happen to be adamant not to change any of it, its bound to get downright dangerous…..and hopeless.

But no, I’m not adamant or anything. I’m more than willing to actually follow one of the recipes out of one of the many brilliant cookbooks I have. I’m just plain lazy. Every time I start with one, some tiny voice inside me wrecks havoc till I tweak the recipe in some way or the other. And I would rather learn the hard way. The really hard way. Doing what I do is hazhardous. You could end up with burnt pots, singed palms, cut-up fingertips, dish towels on fire and sometimes food without seasoning in it. There have also been times when I’ve had to feel my way through thick smoke just to get to the stove-top.

I’ve heard Aditya declare (for about the millionth time) how he follows a cookbook recipe word for word the first time, and then experiment with it in his own sweet time and come up with something new and different.

Liar. They’re always the same and never any different.

 I once fed cold macaroni tossed with tomatoes and cloves of garlic, all raw, uncooked, mashed up together in a sad brass mortar and pestle. It was horrible. And that’s an understatement. The mortar and pestle led a brassy taste to the tomatoes and along with the strong garlicky twang, not to mention the undercooked pasta that stuck to your teeth, the outcome was so puke-worthy that I was banned from my friends’ kitchens for the next four months. They begged me to learn how to cook knowing what a champion-eater and mess-creator I have been all my life.

At the time, I was using this blog as a showcase for my graphical endeavors and writing about college. Everything changed when I called up my Mother and asked her to guide me through a simple meal of eggplant curry with cut-up sausages! Then came okra and brown rice. That’s right…I couldn’t boil rice to save my life. My mother was too kind to guide me through basics.

Out came the digital camera, out oozed some fatty brainwaves, 18 months later and I’m still struggling to be moderately good at whipping up a decent meal.

This weekend I tried to relive last year’s Diwali truffle-happiness. Recovering from a relapse of typhoid can punch quite a lot of air out of you. But the truffles were worth the effort — they always are. Three sorts, not much work, a whole lot of mess and gastronomical divinity in the end.  I don’t know why I keep putting myself down as a cook….these truffles rocked, you know.

dark chocolate truffles

Dark Chocolate Truffles

What you need:

  • 1 and half cups dark chocolate (70%), chopped into approximately equal sized peices
  • 3 tablespoons of sugar (optional…I like my truffles to be distinctly bitter so I didn’t add any)
  • 1 cup double cream
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper for the Chili Truffles
  • 20ml espresso shot, for the Coffee Truffles
  • 20ml dark (or white) rum, for the Coconut and Rum Truffles
  • 1 cup dessicated coconut
  • Cocoa powder for coating

How-to:

  • Divide the chopped chocolate equally into three glass bowls.
  • Heat the cream till its almost about to boil. At this point, you can add in the sugar, if necessary, and stir to dissolve it in the cream. Take it off the heat and pour equal amounts into each bowl carrying the chocolate.
  • Let the mixtures stand for 60 seconds, before gently stirring them(from center towards the edge) till all the chocolate has melted.
  • Add the cayenne pepper to the first mixture and stir in gently. Add the espresso to the second and rum to the third and gently stir. Cover each bowl with cling film and chill in the freezer for about a couple of hours or till the ganache has set.
  • Set each bowl in an ice-bath(so the ganache doesn’t melt) turn by turn. Use a spoon or a scooper to scoop out the chocolate and roll into truffle balls. I spread cocoa powder and rolled the chili truffles in them to coat. The rum truffles were rolled in dessicated coconut.
  • Don’t forget to eat ’em!

 

truffles

The Weirdest Diwali…

Happy Diwali !!!

Well, belated, at least.

Now, this is another festival Indians go crazy about.

Fire crackers, sweets, gifts (oh yeah!), dry fruits, rangoli, new clothes (yet again!) and more sweets! Plus, Bengalis have their Kali Puja the very next day. So we just have to let go of watching our blood sugar levels for the two days.

It’ll be difficult for anyone to find a town, city, suburb or countryside free of noise, colors, light, fumes from the fireworks or plates and plates of badam burfi piled high.

Indians don’t celebrate with food – they celebrate food itself.

Every festival in India is always up for a million dollops of pure ghee, barrels of molasses, milk by the gallons, saffron by the fistfuls, nuts and fruits by the kilos. Some of the concoctions melt in your mouth, some fill you up with the first serving, some you get addicted to, some taste strange, some reminds you of something ancient and historical, some burst with flavor, others are subtly strong – but all of them make your mouth water, frankly.

This year was slightly different for me. Well OK, a lot different.

Firstly, it rained cats and dogs day before yesterday, which was a mood-killer. The dampness not only affects the performance of the crackers (obviously), but it dampened all our spirits. The fireworks industry in India is massive. And for a day the dealers sat with their hands holding up their heads!

Secondly, I cut down on the amount of crackers.

Well, because after 20 years of experiencing fascination and borderline obsession with fireworks, I got bored this year…much to the surprise and shock of my family and friends.

Thirdly, because I made sweets. And not the traditional burfi or kheer or halwa. But, I made truffles.

Yes, you read that right. Truffles.

Gorgeous dark chocolatey, walnutty ones.

All for a mid-morning coffee snack! And for two very special gift-packages. Recipes are right at the end of this post.

Evening was spent lighting lamps and diyas all throughout the house. And the rest of it was spent inhaling the fumes of burning nitrates and carbonates!

Anyway, back to the aforementioned truffles. I’ve been obsessed with them since……well, since Sunday. That’s when we were gifted this gorgeous box of six sinfully chocolicious rum and brandy truffles! Too bad, none was left to photograph. So, I made some of my own with walnuts, considering the fact that we have a whole kilo of walnuts leftover from when I made cookies a week back.

Chocolate Truffles rolled in Walnuts:

– 250gms of dark chocolate (I used one with 60% cocoa content)

– 150ml of heavy cream

– Walnuts, roasted and chopped coarsely

Chop up the chocolate in shards and chunks and put all of it in a bowl. Heat the cream till it reaches its boiling point. Be careful not to let the cream boil over, at this point. Pour it over the chopped chocolate and let stand for a minute. With a whisk or a wooden spoon start stirring the cream-chocolate mixture, from the center towards the sides of the bowl. Mix thoroughly till all the chocolate has melted. We don’t want any streaks of cream either. What you have now, is chocolate ganache. Pour in a shallow bowl/tin lined with aluminum foil and chill in the freezer for 2-3 hours or till a tablespoon of it can be rolled into a ball.

After the ganache has set, spread the chopped walnuts on a plate. With a teaspoon (or one of those rare melon scoopers, if you have any) scoop out some and start rolling into a ball. The consistency of the chocolate at this point should be such, so it doesn’t stick to your palms much. Roll the balls in the chopped walnuts till they’re coated evenly and pop all of ’em into the freezer again for about an hour before trying any.

Walnut Rock Truffles with extra crunch!

– 125gms of dark chocolate

– Half a cup of roasted walnuts, chopped

– 6 tablespoons of granulated white sugar

– 1 tablespoon of unsalted butter

– 1 egg white

– 2-3 drops of vanilla essence

Chop the chocolate. Add butter to it and melt on a double-boiler. Meanwhile, combine the walnuts and sugar in a bowl. Start adding the egg white to the mixture slowly to make a dough. You won’t be needing all of the egg, since we want the “dough” to be sticky and disintegrated. Take the chocolate off the heat and add the vanilla essence. Now, my essence was too strong for my taste, thats why I only used a few drops. Go ahead and add a few drops more, if yours is milder. Add this melted chocolate to the “dough” and mix well. Pour (or spoon, rather) it onto a plate lined with aluminum foil and chill in the freezer for 2-3 hours or till you can cut it into pieces.

The extra chocolate shards and curls that were leftover…I just added ’em to my coffee. 🙂

All in all, this year Diwali, was kinda weird……