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Chocolate Truffles with Wine!

Written on March 16th, 2010 by no shouts

These truffles are extraordinary, make them and you’ll see why. The first thing to do is to buy really fine chocolate.

At the new Felipe Motta Wine Store that just opened in David, I was able to find Villars 72% cocoa chocolate. One hundred grams of this delectable chocolate was $5.50, compared to Lindt 70% cocoa chocolate, half the price at El Rey at $2.49. The richer the chocolate, the higher the price.

I will buy both chocolates to see which is the very best, the one I will use for “Crazy for Chocolate” cooking class on April 7. See a recent blog for more details.

The recipe is something really special, one that I developed over the years using the finest chocolate I can find. Now, I call it “Boquete Gourmet Chocolate Truffles”. The sommelier at Felipe Motta Wine Store in David will pair my truffles with just the right wine for the upcoming chocolate class.

Boquete Gourmet Chocolate Truffles

2 100-gram bars good-quality dark chocolate
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
½ cup heavy cream
1 tablespoon Abuelo rum, 12 year old
cocoa powder

Chop the chocolate into small bits, about 1/8″ or finer and place into a heatproof bowl. Set aside.
Combine cream and butter in a small saucepan over medium heat. Bring slowly to a simmer, stirring to keep the butter moving and to prevent the cream from boiling.
When butter is melted and cream forms bubbles around the surface, almost scalding, pour hot mixture over the chocolate. Cover with GladWrap and let stand for 5 minutes. Whisk until all chocolate is fully melted and the ganache is smooth and fully combined, about 2 to 3 minutes and blend in the rum. Cover tightly with GladWrap and refrigerate 8 – 12 hours or overnight.

When ready to make truffles, put cocoa powder in a small plastic bag and line a baking sheet with waxed paper. Using a teaspoon, scoop out bite-sized amounts of the filling and roll into balls between your palms. If they’re not perfectly round, egg-shaped will work fine. Carefully drop the balls, one at a time, into the bag and roll to coat truffle.
Lift truffle out with fingers slightly spread and transfer to waxed paper. Cover and chill truffles at least 30 minutes. Serve at room temperature. Truffles can be refrigerated for up to 2 weeks and frozen for up to 2 months. If I made a mistake in this recipe, it was making the truffles too big, they are so decadent!

To learn more about the art of chocolate, stop by Sugar & Spice Bakery on the Main Street of Boquete. Pastry Chef, Richard Meyer will be sharing his recipes using chocolate as the main ingredient in his cooking class on April 7, and Felipe Motta will share their wines paired with Richard’s creations.

Love that chocolate!

Filled Nubes de Chocolate

Written on February 26th, 2010 by no shouts

Guest Chef Renny Karnich presented a fun-filled cooking class in my kitchen earlier this month. Her menu included fajitas hot off the griddle, Pico de Gallo, and all the accompaniments. The fajita ingredients were sizzled on a red-hot griddle and stacked to make a steaming volcano. You can see her recipe for fajitas in a previous article.

For anyone not knowing, Boquete is situated high on the side of Volcan Baru, the tallest volcano in Panama, so Renny’s fajita technique is apropos. Then, she used her “volcano” technique in a totally different manner, to make Nubes de Chocolate, or “clouds of chocolate”.

At the end of the class, Renny piled filled cream puffs high on a footed cake plate and dribbled them with hot icing.  It was like another volcano had erupted, spurting hot chocolate all down the sides of the mountain.  Everyone cheered in delight as the chocolate kept flowing. “The more hot chocolate, the better!”, exclaimed Renny.

Here’s how Renny made the cream puffy clouds and put it all together:

Eclairs or Cream Puffs

½ cup water
4 tablespoons butter
½ cup flour
2 eggs, room temperature

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Combine water and butter in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Add flour and stir vigorously with a wooden spoon until the dough leaves the sides of the pan and forms a ball. Remove from heat and cool 5 minutes. Add the eggs one at a time beating hard until the dough is smooth.

Place 12 rounded tablespoons of dough on an ungreased cookie sheet, 2 inches apart and bake 30 minutes or until golden. While still warm, carefully slice the tops off the puffs. Pull out the soft insides and discard them. Cool the puffs, then fill with cream filling and dust with sifted powdered sugar.

Creme Patissiere Filling

1 cup milk
½ cup sugar
3 tablespoons flour
1/8 teaspoon salt
2 egg yolks, beaten
2 teaspoons flavored extract, vanilla, cherry, almond, etc.
OR 2 tablespoons liquor, Abuelo rum, Tia Maria, Curacao, etc.

Heat the milk in a saucepan until hot, not boiling. Whisk the sugar, flour and salt together in a medium bowl, then add the hot milk until well blended. Pour mixture back into the saucepan and continue to stir vigorously over low heat until very thick and smooth. Add the egg yolks and cook for a few more minutes. Cook, stirring from time to time, then add flavoring. You may add color, to make the filling more festive.

Now that you have the cream puffs filled with your favorite flavored filling, stack them on a pedestal cake plate and sprinkle them with slivered almonds. Heat half a container of ready-to-use fudge or double-chocolate icing in the microwave until it is runny, only about 15 seconds. Slowly drizzle the filled puffs (nubes) with hot icing. Wait for the compliments, then serve with a steaming cup of Boquete coffee.


What Goes with Hard Sauce?

Written on December 16th, 2009 by no shouts

hardsauceYesterday was a busy day, I prepared a beautiful vegetarian lunch of Shepherd’s Pie and a tossed salad and took it to friends in Potrerillos, about 30 minutes from Boquete.  The main dish was made from a recipe I found in my favorite cookbook, “The Ultimate Collection” by Alison Holst.

The menu was perfect, Shepherd’s Pie and fresh salad.  A salad is always a hit as I’m known for making salads a little differently than most recipes suggest.  I like to add something unexpected to each of my salads, this time I added half a finely chopped apple sprinkled with nutmeg.

But, I needed a dessert and there wasn’t time to make anything.  On the way to Portrerillos, we stopped at our local supermarket and picked up a sweet-smelling fruitcake, which was the best-looking holiday dessert available.  We arrived with a complete lunch, almost ready to eat.

The Shepherd’s Pie turned out lovely after Donna browned the grated cheese garnish.   I tossed and served the salad on side plates and we enjoyed a wonderful afternoon with good friends.  We enjoyed fine food and shared lots of fun, memorable conversation in one of the most beautiful homes in Panama.

When it was time for dessert, I had a moment of flashback!  I didn’t make any hard sauce to go with the fruitcake!   I didn’t even think of it until I started to slice the cake.  What is holiday fruitcake without hard sauce?  Or did I have hard sauce with Christmas Pudding when I was a child?  Or did I have hard sauce with Graham Cracker Roll?   Whichever it was, I missed adding a little dollop of hard sauce to the top of the lovely fruitcake we had for lunch. It was tasty, just not as special as I remember having when topped with hard sauce.

When I returned home, I quickly made some hard sauce, I had all the ingredients and it only took a few minutes.  It’s now ready to add to any Christmas dessert I serve over the holidays.  Here’s my recipe, you might like to keep some hard sauce handy to serve with your dessert during the next couple weeks.

1/2 cup softened butter (one stick)
1 1/2 cup confectioner’s sugar
2 tablespoons rum, Abuelo is my favorite

Cream the butter and sugar.  Slowly add the rum and beat until light and fluffy.  Refrigerate in a covered container, it will keep for weeks.  It only takes a small dollop to make any dessert festive.   Now my only question is “What goes with hard sauce”?  Please let me know.

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