Sunday, January 31, 2010

Chocolate for Valentine's about a recipe for dark chocolate truffles-plain, lavender, balsamic and /or mint?

I am not a huge dessert fan...would rather have a little more of the main course...and my favorite way to end a meal is with a bit of chocolate with my last glass of red wine. These truffles fit the bill perfectly...excellent chocolate, either plain or subtlety flavored with my favorite herbs, fruit and/or balsamic vinegar. For Valentine's Day I thought I would make four of my favorites...a small assortment for those I love.

Please don't be put off by the thought of the herbs or balsamic vinegar...give it a try. As my husband Peter..a die hard plain chocolate advocate says..."They are surprisingly delicious".

My Valentine gifts this year are going to be dark chocolate truffles! I don't think it can be Valentine's Day without chocolate, do you? is the best part....homemade truffles are really easy...and they don't have to look perfect...I think the handcrafted look looks best anyway.

This recipe makes an equal amount of four flavors of truffles...pure dark chocolate, balsamic, mint and lavender. Use the proportion of 2 to 1 chocolate to cream to make fewer flavors...I like the variety! And,because there are only two main ingredients, use the best quality you can afford. The ingredients really do make the difference...

**IMPORTANT** if you are making more than one type of truffle be sure to label each bowl as you go...otherwise, they all look the same and you will need to taste to know which is which*** (not really a hardship)
Farmhouse Dark Chocolate Truffles
16 oz best quality (70% cacao) bittersweet chocolate (I use Scharffenberger) well chopped
1 cup organic heavy whipping cream
1 tbsp dried organic lavender buds
1 tbsp fresh organic mint leaves
2 tsp good quality pure balsamic vinegar
1 tsp pure Tahitian vanilla
best quality chocolate cocoa powder (I use Valhrona)
additional tiny mint leaves and lavender buds for garnish
1 tsp pine nuts, sliced in half lengthwise
finely chopped pecans

For lavender truffles:  bring 1/4 cup whipping cream and the lavender buds to a gentle simmer. Remove from heat and let steep for about an hour. Strain lavender buds from cream (discard lavender) and return to stove. Bring back to hard simmer. Place 1/2 cup chopped chocolate into small bowl. When cream is ready, remove from stove and immediately pour over chocolate in bowl. Let sit for a couple of minutes without stirring. After 2-3 minutes, whisk chocolate into cream until smooth. Refrigerate for a couple of hours.

**note...the lavender cream is delicious on its own...try it drizzled over pound cake and strawberries...or poured over any fresh fruit***

mint truffles:
Thoroughly wash all cooking equipment to avoid taste crossover. Follow exact same process as for lavender truffles, substituting the mint.

balsamic truffles:
Bring 1/4 cup whipping cream and the balsamic to a strong 1/2 cup chopped chocolate in a small bowl...when cream is ready, immediately pour over chocolate in bowl.  Follow rest of directions for lavender truffles.

pure dark chocolate truffles:  
Follow the balsamic truffles directions, substituting the vanilla for the balsamic.

Remove truffle mixture(s) from refrigerator after a couple of hours and allow to sit at room temperature for 15-20 minutes...the chocolate should just begin to soften. I use a mini ice cream scoop for the next step, but you can also use 2 spoons. Starting with one flavor of truffles, shape mixture into small round balls...whatever size you like. Place each ball on a parchment paper lined baking sheet. Remember to label each flavor on the sheet...I just use a post-it. When you have finished with all flavors, refrigerate truffles overnight.

Remove from refrigerator. Place nuts on one plate and cocoa powder on another. I roll the lavender, mint and balsamic truffles in the cocoa powder and top each lavender truffle with a couple of lavender buds, mint truffles with the tiny mint leaves and the balsamic with 2 pine nut slices...looks pretty and identifies the flavor. I roll 1/2 of the plain truffles in more cocoa powder and 1/2 in the chopped nuts. The fun part of this step is you can be as creative as you want...roll in cocoa, nuts (any kind you like) powdered sugar, sanding sugar, melted chocolate...whatever you like...

Refrigerate truffles until ready to eat.

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Are you cooking or baking for loved ones this Valentine's Day? What are you making?

Happy Valentine's Day!

napa farmhouse 1885

I have started sharing my Taos experiences on my newest blog "California Girl in Taos". Please visit and let me know what you think.


JulieSmithson said...

OMG! Delicious! I want one right now. Beautiful photos Diane.


Anonymous said...

Lavender truffles? mmmmm.....

Napa Farmhouse 1885 said...

hi julie...thank you! i will tell peter, my husband and the photographer, that you complimented his photos...he will be thrilled!


Napa Farmhouse 1885 said...

hi arugulove...thanks for the post...yes, the lavender is a bit subtle...not really delicious...and the scent is amazing!


Chef Alex said...

I really like the balsamic combination. I think I might try that with my candy, do you mind? They look delicious, and the pictures are beautiful. I am not sure yet if I am cooking for my Valentine this year, wemight just be taking the weekend off :-)

Thanks for sharing the recipes!

dining table said...

These are delicious flavors of truffles. I want to make some and give them as presents this Valentines.

Napa Farmhouse 1885 said...

hi alex..thanks for the comment....of course you can use the balsamic idea for your truffles...i think they would be delicious! happy valentine's day...

Napa Farmhouse 1885 said...

welcome dining table...thanks for taking the time to comment. i hope you do make the truffles...they make a fantastic valentine's gift...let me know how you like them....

Chef Alex said...

Thanks Diane :-) I am thinking about a Porto/Balsamic reduction. For my kind of candy, that will probably work better. Want to taste it when the first batch is done ? :-)

Napa Farmhouse 1885 said... i want to taste?? um...yes!!!

Kitchen M said...

I've never had any of those flavors in truffles, but they all sound so good!

Napa Farmhouse 1885 said...

hi em from kitchen m...thank you for the comments...give the truffles a try...they are a bit different...and really delicious. i am making another batch tomorrow for my book club meeting later in the week...and then more for valentine's day...a very "truffley" week!

Leslie said...

Diane, the truffles look amazing!! thanks for sharing.

I love handome Mose!!

I have 3 dogs, a Black lab, Boston Terrier and 1yr old Golden. ( he is pictured on my blog header) Altough we love all of the dogs I must admit that Sharky the golden has us completely infatuated. He is the sweetest dog.

Nice to meet you.

Napa Farmhouse 1885 said...

hi leslie..nice to meet you too..and mose says "thank you". i totally agree..all dogs are wonderful..but there is just something about the golden/lab breed...i melt...

looking forward to reading your blog..and please do visit us often...thanks for the comment...