Chocolate tempering – any excuse to make truffles

Recently I was approached by Something Sweet magazine and asked to write a post where I followed the chocolate tempering guide as featured in their first issue. In addition they sent me all of these wonderful things:

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Note my running shoes in the background.

To be honest I’d never really bothered going out of my way to temper chocolate before but as I realised earlier this week this was a big mistake. Tempering chocolate causes the fat crystals to form in a specific way which gives chocolate an attractive sheen. It also means that the chocolate melts at just below body temperature so the chocolate literally melts in your mouth.

Anyway, I decided to take the opportunity to make some more truffles in different flavours this time. This made me extremely popular with my work colleagues and housemates (although I did manage to get chocolate around almost the entirety of my kitchen).

I went for 2 kinds of truffles; white chocolate ganache with milk chocolate coating and Nutella and cream cheese ganache with dark chocolate coating.

To make the white chocolate ganache truffles you will need:

200ml double cream

200g good quality white chocolate

200g milk chocolate

To make the Nutella cream cheese ganache truffles you will need:

200g light cream cheese (you can use full fat but lower fat versions make the texture lighter)

200g Nutella

200g dark chocolate

I also made some of the chocolate hearts as featured in the magazine to practise my chocolate tempering using some dark chocolate I had in from brownie making.

Anyway for the truffles with the white chocolate filling you need to break up your white chocolate and heat it gently with the cream until the chocolate has fully melted into the cream and the whole thing has slightly thickened. Cool this in the fridge for an hour and then transfer to the freezer for several hours as white chocolate ganache tends to be more challenging to handle than milk or dark chocolate ganache.

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Remove this from your freezer and use a spoon and your hands to shape this into mouth sized pieces. yes, mouth sized is a technical term.

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In order to temper your milk chocolate melt 2/3 in a glass bowl over a gently simmering saucepan and heat to between 45 and 47°C. Wrap the bowl in a tea towel,add the remaining 1/3 of the chocolate and once it is between 27 and 28°C its ready to work with. Dip the truffles into the chocolate (be quick or the white chocolate will melt into the milk chocolate).

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To make the Nutella truffles melt your Nutella in the microwave or in a glass bowl over simmering water. Stir in the cream cheese and mix well. Cool in the fridge for an hour and then put into the freezer for several hours.

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Using a teaspoon and your hands shape your truffles into what you consider an appropriate truffle size and shape (you could make one big one but you might get a stomach ache).

To temper the dark chocolate melt 2/3 in a glass bowl over a gently simmering saucepan and heat to between 48 and 49°C. Wrap the bowl in a tea towel,add the remaining 1/3 of the chocolate and once it is between 28 and 29°C its ready to work with. Dip the truffles into the chocolate (be quick or the white chocolate will melt into the milk chocolate).

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P1040667Dip your Nutella chocolates in the dark chocolate to decorate. Allow to cool.

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Something Sweet magazine provided an absolutely fantastic guide for me here. I think that even for more experienced cooks this magazine provides an excellent guide to making different types of confectionary. There are plenty of other recipes in each of the magazines and guides to making all types of sweet thing; perfect for every type of sweet tooth.

I hope this post shows how you can take skills such as chocolate tempering and then use this as a jumping off point to improve other recipes. I will definitely be taking the time to temper chocolate in the future as it really improved the chocolate tasting experience for all involved.

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You can buy Something Sweet Magazine from all good quality newsagents. I would like to thank everybody involved for the opportunity to do this post.

Raspberry, white chocolate and passion fruit cheesecake

This cheesecake is a little bit special if I do say so myself. I adapted this massively from a beautiful lemon cheesecake recipe I used in my student days. If you regularly read my blog you will know by now that I am something of a chocoholic and prefer my desserts with a pretty high percentage of cocoa in them. However, when it comes to cheesecake I tend to favour fruit based variations. In this the white chocolate adds a bit of extra richness that cuts through the tartness of the raspberries. I used frozen raspberries in this but you can use fresh if you prefer.

If you want to make cheesecake you will need:

250g ginger biscuits or digestives

150g butter

200g full fat cream cheese

3/4 pint (450ml) double cream

2 tablespoons caster sugar

100g frozen raspberries (plus extra to decorate)

3 passion fruit (you can leave these out, but they add a certain loveliness I can’t describe)

100g white chocolate

 

Smash your biscuits up to make your cheesecake base. (Feel free to sing that old YouTube song while doing this step). I whizzed my biscuits up in the food processor but I believe it was Ed who told me she likes to do this bit with a rolling pin as it means that she can nibble on the bigger bits of biscuit.

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Met your butter and add in your biscuit crumbs. Put this mixture into a loose bottomed tin and press it into an even layer (or any vessl in which you wish to make cheesecake). Place in the fridge to cool. You can do this several hours in advance or as you are making the filling.

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Buttery biscuit base – all you Masterchef fans would be proud

Whisk your cream and sugar until the cream has thickened and leaves a trail when you lift the whisk up.

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Add the cream cheese and give the mixture another good whisk.

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Melt in the white chocolate and whisk in so that everything is well mixed.

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Add your raspberries and the flesh of the passion fruit. Mix in using a wooden spoon.

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Cheers me old fruit

Spoon the cheesecake mix over the base and spread in an even layer.

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I love the swirls of pink in this

Decorate with raspberries, or as you wish and refrigerate for a few hours before serving. This dessert is one that doesn’t need anything with it, but if you want to push the boat out is goes well with ginger ice cream.

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I was certainly popular last Friday night.

Pot roast lamb with rosemary

Sometimes when it comes to food simplicity is a wonderful thing. When you have beautiful ingredients you really don’t need to fuss. With this in mind this recipe for pot roast lamb is a dream for any meat lover. The flavours of the lamb, rosemary and garlic really come through and its so simple to make that even people who are less confident in the kitchen can produce this for hungry guest – I made this for Sunday dinner last week when my parents visited me and it went down a storm.

You can make pot roasts in a slow cooker or in the oven. You will need a good sized casserole dish that is oven safe. You can use other cuts of lamb in this recipe but make sure it’s one that is best cooked slowly for a long time. There’s nothing quite as satisfying as when the meat you have cooked falls off the bone.

To make your own pot roast you will need:

Lamb shoulder (make sure it fits in your casserole dish)

2 cloves garlic

Olive oil

Fresh rosemary

100ml stock

1 glass white wine

Sea salt

 

Roughly chop the garlic. Use a sharp knife to pierce holes in your lamb and put the pieces of garlic in the holes with small sprigs of rosemary. Rub the lamb with the sea salt and olive oil.

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Heat a large frying pan and place your lamb in it fatty side down with any remaining garlic (add oil if there isn’t a particularly fatty side). Turn your lamb to ensure that it’s more or less browned all over. Place in your casserole dish or slow cooker. Cover with the stock and white wine and cook for 6-8 hours with a lid on your slow cooker/casserole dish. If you’re using the oven you want the oven around 100°C; if using the slow cooker it should be on low.

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As usual with slowly cooked meat it doesn’t look at its best after this point.

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A few minutes before you plan on serving this remove your lamb from the pot and pull apart the meat to make it easier to serve. Cover with some of the liquid that you cooked the lamb in it, but not so that the lamb in swimming in it.

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I serve mine with roast Mediterranean vegetables, potatoes and homemade pitta but it also works well as a traditional British Sunday lunch.

I was certainly pretty popular with my parents and a certain somebody. I onlty wish I had taken a photo of all the food I made on the table.

Honey and lemon loaf

I love a good loaf cake. If highly decorated cupcakes were the vamp of a cake based fictional drama loaf cakes would be the ultimate ugly duckling who turns into a swan. This cake uses spelt flour which is lower in gluten and higher in protein than normal flour and the only sugar comes from dark honey. The use of wholemeal spelt flour was entirely optional, I was in a rush at closing time in my local supermarket, so you can use white flour if you’d prefer. I personally feel though that the wholemeal flour adds a depth to this cake and this is the perfect cake for somebody who isn’t into overly sweet food.

While this cake is possibly healthier than most, being lower in refined sugar, I wouldn’t argue that it quite counts as healthy food. If you’re really watching your sugar intake you could potentially switch the lemon curd for sugar free jam or sugar free lemon curd but sweeteners themselves aren’t always desperately healthy and, in my opinion, life’s too short for sugar free preserves.

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To make a honey and lemon loaf you will need:

125g good quality butter

175g spelt flour (I used wholemeal)

2 large free range eggs

1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

A pinch of salt

175g honey (I like dark woodland honey)

The zest of 1 lemon and the juice of 1/2 a lemon

4 tablespoons milk (I used almond milk)

To glaze

5 heaped tablespoons lemon curd

Preheat your oven to 180°C. Line your loaf tin, either with a specific liner or with baking paper. Cream your butter until pale and fluffy. You can do with step by hand but I used my brand new food processor (thanks parents!)

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Sift in 3 tablespoons of flour and mix. Add in the eggs and mix one at a time. Mix until the mixture is light and fluffy.

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Heat your honey for 20 seconds in the microwave to make it runny. Add this plus the remaining flour (sifted in), baking powder and lemon zest. Add in the milk and mix. Then add in your lemon juice and mix again.

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Pour this into your lined loaf tin and bake for 30 – 35 minutes, until the cake is light and springy.

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While the loaf is still warm heat your lemon curd in a small saucepan until runny and then prick your cake with a knife and pour over the lemon curd.

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Allow to cool before serving. The lemon curd glaze is wonderfully sticky. I cannot recommend this cake enough.

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Store in an airtight tin and enjoy with a hot drink on a cold day. While eating this cake my housemate S and I discussed how underrated lemon based cakes are so I hope you’ll try this one.