Friday, September 25, 2015

Tasting Results (So far, all polling places have not reported)

The clear winner, for balance of flavors, complexity, and resemblance to the Mojito, is the rum infusion with added lime zest. While the lime oil flavoring is stronger, it has an artificial, candy type taste that just doesn't fit in with the natural taste of the zest alone. So, it's gone. I might try using it to make a harder candy type thing to bust up and use as a decoration later, but for now, that kid's benched.

Ganache can be funny stuff when it comes to textures. I tell people that in many ways it is like the Borg from Star Trek: The Next Generation. It contains very little liquid, 1/3 of a cup to 5 to 6 dozen truffles. What it does contain, in the white chocolate ganache, is fat. Three distinct fats. Butter, cocoa butter in the white chocolate itself, and the animal fats in the egg yolk. When another ingredient is introduced, like the dried lime zest, those fats go to work on assimilating it, and, just like in the show, resistance is futile.

With things like nuts, the work of the ganache is usually unpleasant. Instead of holding their structural and textural integrity the nuts get borgatized (see? I just invented my own word, blogging is great, and "borgatized" now has a chance of holding a place in the lexicon) into globby mush. Nut butters actually stand a better chance than nut chunks. Different spices take different paths. Some of them, like cinnamon, or dried ginger, lose their graininess, and take on a nice, plump texture while their flavors get spread throughout the ganache. Nutmeg is a different story, it needs a full twenty four hours in the ganache before it surrenders its consistency.

The dried lime zest was the same way. After a full twenty four, the flavor it held really began to jump, and the texture plumped and softened to where it's a fine compliment to the silken mouth feel of the ganache.

The complexity of the flavor is delightful. It starts off with a full court press of vanilla, the rum is an undertone, then top notes of lime, and a very nice mint finish happen.

My decorating convention has been to use a milk chocolate striping when there is an alcoholic flavoring present, but the light brown color of milk chocolate doesn't appeal to my eye on the white shell, or with the green that represents two of the ingredients. I'm going to break with convention and go with a white shell, fresh grated lime zest (a nicer texture than the dried for this and a slightly sharper flavor) and a green stripe.

Another thing I'm going to try at a later date is to dip the mojito white ganache in tempered dark chocolate, for a chocolate mojito flavor. I don't think there's a chocolate mojito drink out there and this idea has a chance to fulfill a gap in people's flavor experience that they didn't even know existed.

We'll wait until all precincts have reported, but our network is projecting a win for the rum infusion/dried lime zest party.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Who Put the Dip in the Dip Di Dip Di Dip?

Me, that's who.

White chocolate dips are much easier than when I use dark bittersweet chocolate. Those take a special machine with pinpoint temperature control and a motor to spin the bowl and keep the molten chocolate moving.

With white chocolate I take some big bars of white that are left over from my last dip, chop them coarsely, add in some extra buttons for bulk, microwave 30 seconds, stir, and repeat that until it's smooth.



I also melted a little extra in a coffee cup and hit that with a couple drops of green gel food coloring.

The decoration I use on the truffle not only tells me what flavoring it is, by using a fork to make stripes over the truffle I prevent getting fingerprints all over the shell when I handle it later.

The decoration scheme I am using is this:

Rum infusion only: White stripes
Rum infusion with lime zest: a pinch of lime zest and white stripes
Rum infusion and lime flavoring: green stripes
Rum infusion, lime flavoring, and lime zest: a pinch of lime zest and green stripes

You can spend lots of money, $18 to 20 apiece for specialized dipping forks.
That's a cheap stainless steel fork I bought at the local battered women's shelter thrift store. Then I bent the two middle tines back. It works better than the expensive ones.

The balls of chilled ganache get brought out of the fridge and dipped into the melted white chocolate, then they go onto a simple plastic cutting board that is covered with butcher paper.
When they are all dipped, they go back into the fridge to firmly set the shell.
The next two flavors get dipped and decorated.

Then with a super sharp knife, the excess chocolate from the dip is trimmed off, and they are boxed by eights in plastic deli boxes I buy at the local restaurant supply. My mother and a few other folks used to always rag on me for not getting more into the packaging.

"A nice box, more decorative, and something besides those paper 2oz souffle cups you use to put them in. It would just look so much nicer."

I thought about it for a while, and talked with other people. Then, my Uncle, Mom's brother, who is a very successful and sharp business type guy asked me the big question:

"What are you selling? Truffles? Or boxes?"

So I just stayed with cheap, disposable, and easy to source.

The last step, besides the dishes of course, is to take the trimmings and vacuum seal them for later use in cookies and stuff like that. The trimmings got named "truffle stuffle" by the family kids.
Some good friends are coming over later tonight to do a taste testing. A box with 2 each of the flavors goes to some neighbors and other local friends.

Then we wait. I've tasted them all and I have my thoughts on it, but I've learned that the opinions of others matter greatly.


Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Picture Me Rolling

Take it 2Pac!

Rolling the ganache is a pretty boring thing. Yet, it's also critical to the end product. I'm trying to get reasonable balls, that are close to the same size. A little variation here and there, a bit out of round, a bit larger, or smaller is all fine. In a way it's one of the things that differentiates my truffles from something made by a machine.

There's also the size. I experimented a lot with the size of the truffles. Looking for that zone where it was big enough to be a stand alone dessert offering, but also small enough so that the richness doesn't overpower the consumer. Since they're dipped in chocolate, there's also the shell to consider. It imparts flavor and texture. Truffles that are much smaller than the ones I make the amount of chocolate shell can dominate and take away from the silken creamy texture of the ganache. Much bigger than mine, it's just too much.

The basic task is to take a pan of ganache that looks like this:
And make it look like this:
I did that four times, wrapped and labeled each packet of right around a dozen. They are in the fridge right now, I rolled them at room temperature so that I could get a feel for the consistency of the ganache. Normally it's something I do when they are fresh from the cold storage. It's easier to handle that way. For dipping a chilled ball of ganache works better. The chill holds its shape better, doesn't dissolve into the dipping medium, and begins to set the shell faster. It also means that I can go for that silky, creamy texture I love. Dipping them will also give me a chance to look at ideas for decorating them. The way I identify the flavor of a truffle is by the decoration.

Dipping will be tonight.
Preview of Coming Attractions:

These all taste great! There is something positive to say about every iteration of the flavoring. The infusion alone is delightful, the lime is a bit understated, but the mint has a nice, subtle, but distinct finish. I'm not sure if the zest makes much of a taste difference, but, the little, bitter bitzes, are a nice contrast. The ones with the lime flavoring might need some work with the amount. Maybe a test batch with 1/2 or 1/4 tsp of the flavoring to a full batch. Anyway, I'm calling in some test mouths tonight. We'll munch and compare notes. A couple of them are actual lovers of Mojitos so they'll have a better perspective than I do. I don't drink alcohol anymore, haven't for a very long time and my long run of sobriety is not something I'm willing to sacrifice, even for SCIENCE!

Monday, September 21, 2015

In The Time of Mountains and Moons

Since it will be tomorrow before I continue the Mojito truffle journey, and because it's late at night and I'm awake sitting at the computer, I thought I'd put up something else I wrote.

A friend of mine bought a sculpture by an Apache artist. He asked me about it and I tried to explain about Spirit Dancers, and stuff like that. He's a white guy, a prominent civil rights attorney, very sharp, smart, all the things it takes to become a prominent civil rights attorney.

Which is a roundabout way of saying I got nowhere.

From nowhere I went to poetry. I'm nowhere near the poet of Steve Kuusisto but, in my own sweet way, I try.

Without further ado, asides, or digressions:

we come to this place in our mountains
at the time when the moon rises between two peaks in the east
splitting them exactly

this is because we are not in time
as it is seen by humans but rather
time as it is seen by mountains and moons

we put on the clothes of ceremony
exactly the same way
in the same order

we paint our faces in the certain way
as the faces have always been painted
in this time of mountains and moons

we take out our masks and put them on
exactly the same way that has been done
since before there was human memory

drums begin
singers join the drums
dancers join drums and song

something happens to us then
as we drum sing dance at this time in this place
we share a moment of a dream

others have done this drum sing dance dream
just as we do now others will do at their time
we find that we are the same as those others

this dream that goes back
this dream that goes forward
this dream that is now

this dream that we drum sing dance
into being only on this night
only in this place only at this time

we are part of a thread that goes all the way back
at the same time it goes all the way forward
we share our one soul in the time      
of mountains and moons

Mojito Ganache - Test One

The basic white ganache recipe is made using the rum/mint/lime infusion.

First, as always, we do our mise on place.

Stand mixer, check, kitchen scale, check, white chocolate buttons, check, silicon spatula, check, egg yolks (6), check, rum infusion, check, lime oil flavoring, check, dried lime zest, check, butter, check, vanilla beans (3), 4 loaf pans, check, plastic wrap, check, large pot of water at a gentle boil, check.


3lbs white chocolate
12 oz unsalted butter
6 egg yolks
3 vanilla beans, halved, and split
1/3 cup rum infusion

To Add Later:
1/8 teaspoon lime oil flavoring
1 teaspoon dried lime zest

Three pounds white chocolate buttons, (I use Guittard), 12 oz unsalted butter, and the vanilla beans go into the bowl of the stand mixer and over the gently boiling water.

Stir often, to facilitate a smooth melting of all the chocolate and all the butter.
Move to the stand mixer, and at lowest stir setting begin mixing.
Add in the egg yolks, one at a time, still at lowest setting.
Add in the 1/3 cup of the rum infusion, and gradually, to avoid slopping out, increase the stir speed to highest setting. The goal here is to mix all the ingredients into a tight liason, but also to introduce air into the ganache and speed the cooling (it's pretty damned hot right now, I have about an inch burn on my wrist from it. cooking's dangerous, behave accordingly)

That's what we want. Smooth, silky, luscious ganache, and yes, I tasted at this point and yes, it's pretty wonderful, thanks for asking. At this point I take out the vanilla beans, wipe off the excess ganache, and drop them into the rum infusion bottle, which then gets topped off with fresh rum. Taking the excess ganache off the bean is how it gets on my fingers, those fingers naturally went to my mouth before I washed them.
Divide the ganache into four pans, lined with plastic wrap. I know there's a lot of overhang here. I did that on purpose. We will need to cover closely, and once the ganache sets, it's much easier to remove completely from the pan if it's wrapped.

Here's a rule for my truffle kitchen.

Rule: Plastic is cheap. Chocolate is expensive.

Take this to your hearts, learn it, love it, live it and we'll all get along.

Say it with me. "Plastic is cheap. Chocolate is expensive." There, I feel better now.

Pan one is the ganache and the infusion. That gets covered and labeled now.
Pan two is with a teaspoon of added lime zest.
Pan three is lime zest and 1/8 teaspoon of the lime oil flavoring
Pan four is 1/8 tsp of the lime oil flavoring alone.

There they are, covered closely, and labled. I - Z - ZL - L. Into the refrigerator to set.

Now we wait until tomorrow for SCIENCE! to tell us where we stand.