Wednesday, 9 January 2013

edible gifts; homemade gianduja, red wine truffles et al.

edible gifts for my family
this past christmas was all about edible gifts. they were inspired by m and m’s gifts to us two years running. in twenty-eleven m gave us a bottle of rosemary infused olive oil from her grand father’s olive groves. it was grassy in colour with a strong aroma and sharp taste. along with it came a jar of homemade muffin mix. m had layered the ingredients and then added a christmas tag with handwritten instructions. on christmas twenty-twelve we got bee wilson’s consider the fork along with a bottle of homemade mulled wine syrup. these were such perfect ideas for food lovers that it got me inspired to make some of my own. some of these were for londoners and others were bubble wrapped for international carriage.

for baba there was a bottle of plum-burgundy coloured ‘purple fig and pomegranate jam’ carefully preserved from earlier in the year. for mama a box of 'red wine truffles' and for bhai a jar of ‘better than nutella’ homemade gianduja. making all of these was such a treat especially since it called in my creative streak. in pakistan i used to do wood and fabric painting as well as make my own greeting cards using stamps and embossing tools and powders. i spent sometime in paperchase buying raffia, ribbon and tags to jazz up the jars and also bought a stripped gift box for the truffles. i lined the insides of the box with red tissue. unlike in pakistan there are so many jars to choose from. my favourites happen to be weck and le parfait, which have patterned lids inscribed with ‘fait maison’ on them.

i fear that my homemade ‘better than nutella’ has put me off nutella. there are no artificial ingredients, no emulsifiers and preservatives. just cream, a little butter, chocolate and hazelnuts roasted till they are at least four shades darker. this really emphasises their nuttiness. instead of kosher salt i used fleur de sel, which is less salty and more flavourful than kosher salt. it is the kind of spread that is worthy of very good toast for a weekend breakfast.

pastry affair’s red wine truffles are delicious and deceptively creamy considering they have no cream in them. they are a simple mix of chocolate melted with a heated good quality red wine. the truffle making left chocolate on various surfaces transferred from my palms from rolling them. it really was my fault though as i was trying to juggle other tasks in the kitchen simultaneously. pastry affair’s technique of rolling the cocoa dusted truffles in a sieve is nifty not only to rid the excess but also because it leaves a gauze like finish on the truffles. my only shortcoming was that i rolled them a little too big.

for o there was badam ka sharbat and a rose tea for my sister-in-law made by infusing a limited edition loose leaf newby tea with dried rose petals. i got her disposable tea filters to make her own teabags. l was the recipient of a pumpkin-chocolate hazelnut butter somewhat inspired by the ‘better than nutella’ gianduja. i caramelised libby’s pumpkin with soft brown sugar, then introduced some melted chocolate and a little bit of cocoa powder to the mix. to finish it off i folded in some toasted hazelnuts. l tells me that it makes for a perfect breakfast.

melted chocolate
{better than nutella, chocolate hazelnut spread}
adapted very slightly from bon appétit

this recipe makes enough to fill two three hundred and thirty ml jars.

one hundred and fifty grams hazelnuts
one and a half tablespoons sugar
two hundred and twenty dark chocolate chopped (i use callebaut callets)
fifty-five grams unsalted butter
one hundred and twenty-five ml heavy cream
one teaspoon fleur de sel

preheat oven to one hundred and eighty degrees celsius. spread the hazelnuts on a rimmed baking sheet. roast, shaking sheet once for even toasting, until deep brown, around thirteen to fifteen minutes. let cool completely. (if nuts have skins, rub them in a kitchen towel to remove.)

grind the hazelnuts and sugar in a food processor until a fairly smooth, buttery paste forms, about one minute.

place the chocolate in a medium metal bowl and melt in a double boiler. it should be completely smooth. remove the bowl from the double boiler, add the butter and whisk until completely incorporated. whisk in the cream and salt, then the hazelnut paste.
pour the gianduja into jars, dividing equally. let it cool. the gianduja will thicken and become soft and peanut butter-like as it cools. screw on lids.

truffle making concluded
{pastry affair’s red wine chocolate truffles}
reproduced as it appears on pastry affair

two hundred and twenty-five grams high quality semi-sweet or bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
one hundred and twenty ml dry, red wine ( i used an australian shiraz/cabernet)
thirty grams butter, melted
forty grams cocoa powder

place the finely chopped chocolate in a small bowl. set aside.

in a small saucepan, bring the wine to a boil over medium-high. remove from heat and pour wine over the chocolate. let stand for five minutes to fully melt the chocolate. stir until the chocolate has completely melted and is silky smooth. stir in the melted butter.

allow the chocolate to rest until it begins to firm up, about thirty to forty-five minutes. stir every five to ten minutes. if the chocolate gets too hard, melt over a double boiler and repeat the cooling process. (do not refrigerate or freeze the chocolate to shorten the cooling time. this will only result in truffles with an uneven texture.)

place the cocoa powder in a small bowl. using a spoon, pick up anywhere from a teaspoon to a tablespoon of chocolate (the amount will depend on how large you want your truffles) and roll it between your palms until it forms a sphere. roll the truffle in the cocoa powder until it is completely covered. place the truffle in a fine mesh strainer and shake to remove the excess cocoa powder. set on a baking sheet to firm up.

store in an airtight container at room temperature for one week (or in the refrigerator for up to two to three weeks). bring the truffles back up to room temperature before serving. if the truffles have absorbed the cocoa powder, you can re-roll them before serving to give a more polished appearance (in fact, i suggest this for the best results).

1 comment:

  1. What a great recipe for gianduja - basically a truffle in a jar! Delicious! I will be making this. Thank you.