Chocolate and cherries are one of those winning teams in the culinary world – both in this world as well as in Tyria. When I first came across the Tyrian “Chocolate Cherry” on the Guild’s menu, my annual winter-chocolate-box related chocolate-and-butter-sticky-fest popped into my head without further ado. I couldn’t think around it to save my life at that point, so I decided to embrace the brainfreeze and, at some point, share one of my signature chocolates with you guys~
This recipe doesn’t just summon up a batch of a crowned, starred and often asked for crowdpleasers, it also conjures up a lot of memories – these truffles, or rather, the original version of this recipe, were the first chocolate truffles I ever made~! A historic recipe, if you will.
Up until these truffels crossed my path, I was, of course, aware of chocolate and cherries being a major item, what with iconic cakes along those lines coming from right around the corner, geographically speaking – but I never liked the boozy context that combo most commonly comes around in. Around 15 years ago, the art of making chocolates wasn’t something often practiced outside of the secret lairs of master chocolatiers and pâtissiers, so getting your hands on recipes along those lines wasn’t an easy thing. Cookies, cakes and other baked sweets were all the rage, but sitting in my own apartment at sweet 17, a glorious thing as it may have been, the whole cookie thing suffered from my still ongoing lack of an oven in the kitchen. So, when a christmas’y cookie recipe book was making it’s rounds beneath the girls’ desks in school, I was about to wave it on to the girl sitting next to me when I noticed a round’ish, chocolate’y-looking ball in one of the cover’s corners. I pounced on it without further ado, and ended up being so absorbed by the 3 or 4 simple chocolate recipes that my teacher had a blast giving me detention for ignoring the temper tantrum he was throwing right next to me for 10 minutes. Ah well, totally worth it~! I’ve been making them at least once a year ever since~
So, this little, unassuming Guild Wars 2 recipe is what set me off… again~
Just a quick word in advance, these are, unlike the Spiced Wine Truffles, not made with cream. They’re butter truffles, so they’re “easier” to roll in the end, but need more time to chill through. I’d like to advise you guys to start these on one evening and finish them off on the next to keep the sticky, buttery mess to a minimum.
The Amarena-Cherry Chocolate Truffles
100g Milk Chocolate, coarsely chopped
100g 70%-80% Dark Chocolate, coarsely chopped
50g Amarena Cherries, finely chopped
40g Amaretti – italian almond cookies
125g soft Butter
125g Icing Sugar
50ml Amaretto – if you wish to go booze free, use the syrup the cherries are preserved in. From my usual “I-don’t-like-booze-in-my-chocolate” point of view, the amaretto is unnoticable as such though, it just adds that flavorful special something to the truffles.
40g Cocoa Powder – make sure its real cocoa powder, not the instant hot chocolate stuff. Those usually contain additional milk powder which can turn rancid within a couple of days after getting close and personal with the moisture within the truffles. Taste is another issue, as you can imagine.
More Cocoa Powder for the finish
1) Get your waterbath setup going – a heatproof bowl sitting on top of a pot with hot but not boiling water – and make sure the bottom of the bowl doesn’t touch the surface of the water.
2) Melt the chocolate, gently stirring it with a rubber spatula until it’s smooth and silky, then set the bowl aside and leave it to cool down to room temperature.
3) Crush the cookies. You could use a food processor or blender, but, in my experience those two turn the amaretti into a very fine dust within one or two pulses, which changes the consistency of the whole deal. My amarena truffles have a bit of a crunch to them, giving them a second layer of texture, next to the soft, juicy cherry bits, because I use the anger-management-technique on them. Zip baggie, rolling pin, bad thoughts gone in a second~ Since the cookies have a tendency to splinter into crumbles with rather sharp edges, prone to poke through the baggie, their attempts to pull off a jail… well, bag-break, provide the perfect, crumbly finishing line. As soon as they start poking their way through the bag, stop whacking them with the pin. What comes out of the bag varies from coarse sand to 2mm crumbs, which, in my experience, is exactly what you’re looking for. You get the same result by haphazardly running them through your pestle & mortar set, by the way, in case my method seems a tad too violent for comfort~
4) Add the soft butter and the sugar to a large mixing bowl and cream them up with a handheld electrical whisk set to medium-high speed until they come together in a foamy, pale yellow cream – you’re golden when the whisks pull the mixture into soft peaks as you lift them out of the bowl.
5) Switch to low speed on your hand mixer and carefully stir in the melted chocolate in spoonfuls until each addition is evenly distributed.
6) Continue doing the same with the amaretto, the cocoa powder after that and, last but not least, the cherries.
7) Once everything else is well incorporated into your buttery ganache, leave it to cool down a bit for around 5 mins, then work in the cookie crumbles. That way, they don’t have enough time to soak and soften in the mixture before it sets and therefore, keep some of their crunch.
8) Set your whisk-o-matic to medium speed and stir until stiff peaks stand at attention when you pull out the whisks.
9) Place the bowl in the fridge to chill through for 3 hours.
10) Lay out 2-3 sheets of baking paper
11) Make sure you continue with the following steps in a cool room since the combination of lots of butter and chocolate with a dash of cocoa powder on top can only result in a sticky mess if exposed to more than just the heat of your hands – which is bad enough already. I tried many ways to cheat on the sticky parts, like using ice cube molds or using a piping bag to drop the unchilled mixture on a tray or into praline shells, but none of them really worked to my satisfaction. I developed the baking parchment roll strategy one chocolate-coated day after I ingeniously promised to provide enough truffles for about 20 people on short notice. I used 5 times the amount of the ingredients, but I misjudged the time a larger bowl of chocolate mix would need to cool off and set. Since I only had a day left I had to divide the mix into smaller portions to speed up the process. Lacking in fridge space I came up with the idea to roll up the mixture in baking parchment to fit everything into the corners of my fridge – the fact that this made portioning and rolling the truffles easier was a side benefit I hadn’t considered until I was halfway through prepping the rolls. Here we go…
12) Spoon the mixture out on the paper into a log, then use the paper to mold and roll the mix into a sort of tightly packed weirdo-spring-roll. The roll should have about the diameter of your future truffles.
13) Chill the logs for at least 4 hours – this is the point where I usually go into comfy-mode and skip the chocolate’y business til the next day. If you’re in a hurry, 4 hours should be enough, though.
14) Spoon some cocoa powder into a small bowl. Snap on a pair of CSI gloves. While the butter does wonders for your skin, the butter’y chocolate mess will, quite literally, get out of hand quickly.
15) Cut the rolls into truffle sized, even portions, parchment and all – take the diameter of the roll as a pointer, the closer you get to an even cube/cylinder the quicker you’ll be done rolling it into a ball.
16) Pick off the parchment and roll them into evenly sized balls between the palms of your hands.
17) Pop them into your cocoa bowl and swirl them around in the powder until they’re coated all around
18) Set the coated truffles onto a tray lined with baking parchment. Once you’re through with the whole batch, chill them again, only for an hour or two, to give them time to set again after being warmed up and rolled.
19) Give them another round of cocoa dust and move them into an airtight container, lined with baking parchment.
20) Store the container in the fridge and refresh their cocoa make-up just before serving.
21) Stored right, these will keep for 2-3 weeks.
Just on a side note… some people have been asking me, why I would just give away one of my signature recipes, one of the things people ask me to make on a regular basis. Well. No, I’m not lazy! I’m not trying to dump the load of work making these in quadruple amounts to satisfy everyone onto someone else~ This is just one of the recipes that turn out differently depending on who makes them somehow. I gave this one to my mother several years back – told her which brands I use, detailed every step I usually take during the process. When she, flustered, chocolate dotted and slightly annoyed, presented her batch, we both wondered what happened – not that anything went wrong, mind you. They were just different. Same taste, same yum, different texture and color… And her truffles weren’t the only ones. So you see, even though I now de-mystified my truffles, chances are, everyone will get a slightly different result, just as unique as mine. How’s that for a win-win situation~?
Alrighty, that’s it for 2016! I hope I’ll see you guys again next sunday, next year~! I’ve got quite the yummy lineup prepared for you guys~
Enjoy the New Year’s festivities, eat well and be merry~