What's for starters... (Part 2: "Secret" ingredient truffles)
Think mushrooms: Earthy, savoury, velvety... Now think dark chocolate: bitter, slightly sweet, tangy, fruity, rich, crunchy... Combine the two, add a bit of white chocolate creaminess - here it goes, the mushroom truffle as produced by Nuno Mendes of Viajante. Having tried the truffles I was wondering why I had not seen this flavour combination more often.
Finding the recipe online was easy - it is readily available on http://www.greatbritishchefs.com/recipes/mushroom-truffles-recipe. The recipe is marked as “easy” and read as such. The ingredients required by the recipe are quick to come by. You merely need a little handful of dried ceps , double cream, and a pile of white chocolate for the ganache and dark chocolate for coating. Needless to say, the chocolate should be of highest quality you can get your hands on.
That is where the easy part ends. Preparing them is a different issue.
At first glance preparing the ganache seemed a no-brainer: Bring mushrooms and cream to a boil to release the mushroom flavour, pour the mixture into white chocolate and let it infuse, pass and let set. The recipe calls for 1 to 20 ratio of dried ceps to double cream. I adhered to the ratio, but to my disappointment the result was a sickeningly sweet mixture with no hint of mushrooms detectable. To increase the mushroomy taste I sieved out the mushrooms, added a bit of white chocolate and cream mixture to them and blitzed it in the blender (grinding the mushrooms before adding them to the cream would have probably produced the same result). I also doubled the ratio of mushrooms to cream bringing it to 1 to 10 - and to my delight my endeavours were rewarded. The slightly earthy flavour of ceps started to come through, the sweetness became less dominant. The longer the ganache sat on the tabletop the more cep flavour was there.
After arduous passing through a sieve and mouslin in the abscence of the superbag the recipe calls for, the ganache was made. In the fridge it went as per recipe. Hours passed (the actual recipe specifies 2 hours preparation time including setting time), but the ganache refused to become scoopable. It rather resembled thick dulce de leche. It was back to reading for me.
After a night full of dreams about problems scooping out ganaches the morning brought no relief whatsoever. The ganache proudly sat in the container and happily moved to the side when the container was tilted - a brilliant mousse consistency.
After some research I found out that the ganache the 1 to 1 ratio of white chocolate and double cream is used in dark chocolate ganache preparations. If you adhere to the recipe the ganache would not set . There are two ways to rectify the ganache not setting problem. You could change the ratio of chocolate to double cream to 1 to 2.5 (which would make the truffles much sweater) or add butter or cocoa butter to the mixture. I chose the second way and added 200g cocoa butter. Adding butter also gives a softer texture to the finished ganache.
The second attempt was a success. The ganache was set in the morning and although it wasn’t scoopable I could easily roll it by hands.
Tempering consists of three stages: melting chocolate at 46˚C, then cooling it down to 27˚C by seeding (adding some grated chocolate) and then bringing it back to 32˚C. To keep the chocolate in temper at 32˚C I set up my sous vide machine and kept the chocolate floating in a bowl in it while dipping (the same can be done with a water bath - just always keep the thermometer in sight). Tempering chocolate is a surprisingly easy albeit a very messy process.
The resulting truffle was rewardingly tasty. The chocolate coating produced a nice cracking sound when bitten and the ganache was not too sweet with a cep flavour still noticeable. “Chocolate and confections“ by Peter P.Greweling has been now added to my library and I am on the lookout for more exciting ganache recipies. Do you know any?