I can’t believe another year has gone by. Honestly, I have no idea where all that time went – wasn’t it just a couple of blinks ago that I posted a Christmas Box of Chocolates Special? *sigh* For some reason, 2021 flew by as fast as 2020 was sloooooow – and then some. I even had to, as some of you might have noticed, slow down to one post per month in the second half of the year, much to my own dismay. Don’t think I’m loosing touch, though!
Yumtastic recipes and their fitting pictures are actually piling up, I just couldn’t dig out enough time and peace of mind to actually write about them with the kind of gusto you guys deserve. And since I don’t do things halfway… well, there you have it. Anyways, one of the good things about 2021 coming to a close is that… It’s Christmas Time! Things always tend to loosen up, relax and slow down when there’s pretty decorations lighting the way through the long nights, lots of shawls and other comfy winter clothes giving you a good cuddle any time of the day and all the scents, sounds and delicious treats are signaling that ‘Tis the season! No matter how coocoocachoo things might be outside, Christmas is always a good “excuse” to hammer a bit of peace and happiness out of the daily hubbub of your lives. Since times are, at least for most of us, still more on the coocoocachoo-side of things, a little pickmeup might be in order to get into or stay in the right kind of Happines state of mind and paint smiles on our faces. Something that always seems to nail the pickmeup job description for almost everyone is chocolate – and, of course, the extended version of the everlasting chocolate song: Handmade Chocolates, with a pinch of love on top~ Like this one! Here’s what you need for about 50 Blackberry & Rosemary Truffles – I’ve got 2 different ways of prepping them for you, both are easy-breezy to make, so pick whichever tickles your fancy and let’s get started!
The Blackberry & Rosemary Truffles
100g Dark Chocolate
100g Milk Chocolate
25g Liquid Glucose
125g Silky/Seedless Blackberry Jam
Alt: Jelly doesn’t work that well consistency-wise, so if you can’t find a suitable jam, go with 250g of fresh blackberries, bubble them up with 1 Tbsp of honey and strain them through a sieve as a sub. Or simply ignore/accept the light crunch the seeds add to your ganache~
1 Pinch of Salt
1 Tsp Lemon Juice
40g Butter, at room temperature
2 Bushy Sprigs of Rosemary
1) No waterbath setup this time! Although, if you’re really into Plan B’s, have one ready for the worst case scenario.
2) Finely chop or grate your chocolate and transfer the crumbs into a bowl.
3) Add the glucose, jam, salt and lemon juice to a small pot sitting on medium heat.
4) Give the lot a good whisk until the mixture is smooth, then add the rosemary.
5) Pop on a lid and allow the rosemary to infuse the fruity mix for 10-15 mins. Stir from time to time to make sure nothing clogs, sticks and/or burns in the meantime.
6) Once the rosemary has worked its magic, retrieve it, gently squeeze it to get every last bit of aroma out and into your blackberry mix, the discard it.
7) Turn the heat to high and wait for just 1-2 mins until the liquids work up a bubble.
8) While the mixture is piping hot, pour it over the chocolate crumbs in your bowl.
9) Grab a whisk and, after giving the chocolate a couple of blinks to acclimatize, start folding the hot blackberries into the chocolate, melting ithem into eachother as you go.
10) Once the resulting ganache turns smooth and glossy and, in case you have one, your candy thermometer tells you the ganache has reached 32-34°C (or a drop of chocolate on your wrist doesn’t exactly make you howl in agony but is still noticably warmer than your skin), drop in the butter in teaspoonfuls.
11) Keep stirring as you go and make sure each addition has completely dissolved into the blend before adding the next.
12) Now, for those of you new to all things ganache – this is where things can go wrong and can also be saved by the aforemethtioned waterbath. Things possibly cool down, turn grainy or (at the butter stage) split. Popping your bowl onto a pot filled with warm – not boiling! – water and stirring constantly until things literally come together, will remedy those things~
13) A side-note for the pros at this point: if you know what you’re doing and, most importantly, know how to do it, you can go wild with a stick blender and foam up the mix while being very careful not to work in too much air as the ganache cools down. It’s been hit and miss for me with the stick blender, so I can’t really give qualified advice on this one…
From here on out, the paths split – either towards hand-rolled and cocoa-coated truffles or towards filled chocolate casings. I can never decide, so I usually go 50/50 with that type of thing~
Option #1: Hand-Rolled Blackberry & Rosemary Truffles
50g Dark Chocolate
75-100g Pure Cocoa Powder
1) Allow the ganache to cool down to room temperature.
2) Line a large tray with a sheet of baking parchment.
3) Place the cocoa powder in a small bowl and set it out of harms way for the time being.
4) Snap on a pair of CSI gloves and start rolling bitesized bits of the ganache into balls – be fast about it because warm hands and silky ganache… Pop the finished globes onto your tray as you move along.
5) A way to limit the mess, at least for people on better terms with their piping bag, would be filling the whole lot into said bag and piping bite-sized mounds onto the tray. You’re just going to have to lightly
roll them up later on.
6) Either way, once you’ve worked your way through the ganache, stash the tray in a cool place for 2-3 hours, preferably a fridge devoid of anything that might pass on its aroma to the still-warm chocolate.
7) Once the ganache has set melt the chocolate either in a waterbath or in a microwave.
8) Again, arm yourself with CSI gloves and re-roll/shape the bites if necessary.
9) Then grab a ball, dip it into the liquid chocolate and quickly roll it between your hands to cover it all around – then drop it into the bowl howling your cocoa powder and roll it around in there until its evenly dusted.
10) Place it back on the tray, rinse, repeat until you’re done with the whole batch.
Option #2: Blackberry & Rosemary Ganache Chocolates
50 White or Dark Chocolate Shells of your choice – I like using open, “Half shell” Types with fitting chocolate “lids” since, as you might know, have absolutely zero patience with piping bags. Or the ensuing fiddly mess that comes with threading an oozy, ganache-filled piping bag into small openings in a tray of pristine chocolate spheres. Or myself when I go against my instincts just because I want to present a variety of choices in my chocolate boxes. Or the fact that I have to nurse a headache every time I do that to myself… Aaaanywhoo! Oh! Flat lids are more easily decorated! I should have said that in the beginning! Memo to self…
The Same amount of fitting lids
1) Place the tray snugly holding your empty chocolate casings on a board or baking tray.
2) Transfer the ganache ito a piping back while its at around 28°C. Above room temperature, easily manageable for those of you without that particular gizmo.
3) Pipe the ganache into the shells until each of them is about half full.
4) Set the bag aside, grab and firmly tap the tray-contraption onto your work surface to make any pockets of air rise out of the ganache and pop.
5) Top everything off with a second layer of the ganache to just below the rim of the shell.
6) Once you’re through with all of the shells, give the lot another tap and check if the first row has already started to set.
7) If that’s the case, drop a tiny drop of ganache into the center of each chocolate – or lightly brush the rims with a dab of melted chocolate – and immediately “glue” on the lid by firmly placing it on top.
And now the fun part begins!
The Crystalized Rosemary Deco
200g Fine Baking Sugar
4 Bushy Sprigs of Rosemary
1 shallow tray-/soup-dishful of even more fine baking sugar
1) Add the sugar and water to a small pot sitting on medium-high heat and bring the lot to a boil, stirring as the heat goes up to dissolve the sugar properly.
2) Drop in the rosemary and allow the lot to bubble for 5 mins, the turn the heat to low and pop the lid on for another 5 mins.
3) Carefully, preferably armed with tweezers, pull the rosemary out of the syrup and immediately transfer the sprigs into your sugar bowl/dish/whatever.
4) Turn the sprigs to evenly “snowflake” the individual needles, then tap off the excess (before they can clump up) and place them on a plate to dry.
5) The remaining, surprisingly delicious syrup makes an excellent aroma-base to infuse other decorative yummies with – dried blackberries for example~ or, if those aren’t available to you, dried blueberries or even cranberries!
6) If there’s still syrup left after all that, either keep it for later use or have a go at candied lemon or orange peels!
7) Anyways, once everything has cooled and set, decorate each chocolate and/or truffle with individual crystalized rosemary needles and dried blackberries – or anything else you like, of course~ The infused and slightly syrup-sticky blackberried make for excellent rosemary-needle-glue, by the way.
8) Chill the chocolates until your deco has set into place, then move them into airtight container where they will keep for roundabout 8 (the truffles) to 12 (sealed-in chocolates) days.
9) Remember to take them out of the fridge 10 mins before eating them for max effects~!
P.S.: And that’s it for this year! I wish all of you a fantastic holiday season, merry Christmas, lots of good food, peace and happiness. Stay strong, healthy, hearty and look forward to 2022 – it’s sure going to be a delicious one!