Thursday, March 17, 2016

Fudgy Chocolate Maple Truffles

The sap is running in Ontario, and it's that time of year where every edible delicacy is all about the maple syrup.

Maple is such a great sweetener. And I am always looking for ways to enjoy chocolate with sweeteners that are not cane sugar, to change things up a bit. So when I began working with 100% dark chocolate to make a ganache a few months ago, I also experimented with making a chocolate confection sweetened with maple syrup, and no cream.

I experimented with different percentages of chocolate, from 70% to 100%, but found that 100% dark chocolate was troublesome.  Sometimes I would end up with a great texture, and other times I would not. For instance, I used a Giddy Yoyo 100% dark chocolate bar, and the texture was smooth and perfect, but there was a strong floral taste. So I tried the same recipe again and used a 100% dark baking chocolate, but this turned out granular with separated cocoa butter. I tried about three other unsweetened dark chocolates, and again achieved mixed results.

My best advice, if you want to use 100% dark to ensure your truffles are only sweetened with maple syrup, is to heat the chocolate for half the recommended time, then just add back to the microwave for five seconds at a time and stir in between each heating until smooth, to be sure it doesn't burn.

Although 70% chocolates worked best in this recipe, it was very sweet, so I finally settled on a President's Choice 85% "European Extra Dark" chocolate. With that, I achieved a smooth, lovely confection that is both bitter and sweet.


Maple Chocolate Truffles Recipe

Ingredients:
  • 1/2 cup maple syrup
  • 2 tbsp. butter, at room temperature
  • 4 oz dark chocolate (70%, 85% or 100% but be careful not to overheat it if using 100%)
  • 3 oz for coating
Tip: Buy two to three 100 gram (3.5 oz) dark chocolate bars to cover the maple chocolates and the coating (or in case you mess up and overheat your mixture - see below for what to do if this happens).

Instructions:

1. Melt in microwave for 50 seconds on half power. Stir until smooth.  If there are still lumps, add back in microwave for 5 seconds only, then stir again and continue doing this until smooth and glossy.  Add your room temperature butter (if this is cold, warm also in microwave for 5 second intervals, careful not to melt). Stir in the butter until smooth. If this won't smooth out and appears granular, see the tip below.

2. Line a small box, loaf pan, square plastic container or silicon rectangular moulds (about 3/4") with plastic wrap. Pour the chocolate mixture into the moulds. Let set at room temperature for a few hours, then cover with plastic wrap and let set overnight (or four hours in the fridge, but preferably at room temperature).

3. Once set, invert the mixture onto a piece of waxed paper. Remove the plastic wrap carefully. Slice it into square pieces, about 3/4" in size. You should get between 22 and 30 pieces.

4. Three ways to finish them:


1. Roll in cocoa powder: This is simple, fast and easy. But if you do this, do not seal the maple chocolates up right away, instead let sit out for a few hours until a slightly hard crust develops around the outside. If you place them in a container right after slicing and dusting with cocoa powder, the moisture in the outer layer will cause the cocoa powder to become wet and essentially 'disappear'. The slightly crystalized edge on these is actually quite enjoyable.

2. Dip in tempered dark chocolate:  If you have tempering and dipping skills, go ahead and finish these as you like with a thin layer of chocolate couverture. Sprinkle maple sugar on the top before your chocolate sets.

3. Dip in 'chocolate coating': Melt 3 oz of chopped dark chocolate on half power in the microwave, stir until smooth.  Then add 1 tbsp. of grape seed oil, liquid coconut oil (room temperature, not hot), or hazelnut oil. Stir well until smooth and just a few degrees above room temperature (it will harden at room temperature, and you'll need to gently melt it again). Using a fork, place the maple confection on it and dip into the coating. Gently tap off any excess and flip over onto waxed paper.  If there are holes, cover them with a dab of coating. Immediately top by lightly sprinkling maple sugar crystals, or sea salt, or chopped nuts.

Let set and enjoy!

These can be sealed and frozen. If dusted in cocoa powder, you may need to dust them again before serving, once out of the freezer.


What to do if your chocolate mixture won't become smooth? 

Chocolate separation happens when the truffle or confection mixture is overheated.  Some microwaves cook 'hot', and some glass bowls also hold heat differently and can cause your chocolate to separate (i.e. the cocoa butter separates out of the chocolate). This often won't come back together, unless you add a lot more maple syrup, which will make it soupy, or added cool butter (this may work well for you, for a more buttery truffle, but it doesn't always work). But if you can't get it to smooth out, I suggest you simply pour it into a bowl, let set as is and freeze it.  Then, whenever you need a lovely hot chocolate with no or little cane sugar, scoop out two tablespoons into a mug and add steaming hot milk. That way nothing goes to waste!

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