Makes about 20 truffles
- 200g of good quality dark chocolate (at least 70% cocoa) – broken into pieces
- 1/4 cup raisins – chopped
- 1/4 cup rum
- 1/2 cup heavy cream
- 1 1/2 tbsp unsalted butter
- 1 tsp vanilla paste (or 1 tsp of vanilla extract)
- 1 tsp of strong espresso or instant coffee granules (optional)
- 2 tbsp of cocoa powder
- Cocoa powder
- Finely chopped nuts (walnuts, hazelnuts, pecans or almonds)
- Shredded coconut
- Spices like cinnamon, cayenne pepper, orange zest, etc
- In a bowl, soak the raisins in rum for one hour (at room temperature).
- In a saucepan, over low heat, bring the cream to a simmer. Then add the butter and stir with a plastic spatula until melted.
- Next, add the chopped chocolate, and when it begins to melt, turn the fire off and continue to stir until the chocolate is completely melted (be careful not to burn the chocolate).
- Then mix in the cocoa powder, vanilla paste, and espresso, and stir until smooth. Finally, stir in the raisin rum mixture, and transfer to a bowl.
- Once the chocolate ganache has cooled on the counter, cover the bowl and place it in the fridge. Chill for an hour until the ganache is firm.
- Lay out a sheet of non-stick baking paper. Prepare coatings in separate bowls. With your palms or a small spoon, form the chocolate into balls, then roll each one in the coating and place them on the baking paper. Transfer the truffles, along with the baking paper, to an airtight container and refrigerate.
- Truffles can be refrigerated for a couple of weeks or for a few months in the freezer. Before serving, let the truffles sit at room temperature for about 30 minutes.
Tips on making truffles:
– It’s important to keep the ganache mixture cool after it is removed from the refrigerator, so it doesn’t melt too much when you are forming the balls and coating them. Try placing the small bowl of ganache on top of a bigger bowl layered with ice. (Also, coat your hands with some cocoa powder to prevent your warm fingers from melting the chocolate)
– If the ganache gets too soft for shaping, just pop the ganache back in the freezer for five minutes. If you are making a bigger batch, divide the ganache into separate containers.
makes ~20 oz. apple butter, far more than you’ll need for apple butter buttercream, but delicious to have around for other uses!
- 2 lbs. apples, peeled, cored, and in chunks
- 4 cups unfiltered apple juice
- 1/2-2/3 cup light brown sugar*
- 1 tspn cloves
- 1 tspn ground cinnamon
- juice of half a lemon
- In a large pot over medium high heat, combine the apples and apple juice and cook until the apples are completely tender, about 15-25 minutes, depending on the size you chop the apples. If a foam forms, you may skim it off if desired.
- Remove the pot from the stove and let cool briefly. Puree the apples and apple juice in a food processor or blender until completely smooth.
- Return the puree to the pot and add the brown sugar, cloves, cinnamon, and lemon juice.
- Return the pot to heat and simmer on medium/medium-low heat, trying to maintain 105 degrees C. Cook for 1-2 hours, stirring regularly, until mixture really thickens and darkens and bubbles/splatters. Remove from heat when desired consistency is reached.
*Add only 1/2 cup sugar for a less-sweet apple butter. I used 2/3 cups sugar and while still really good, it was a little on the sweet side for me.
Cinnamon Apple Macarons
makes ~50 small macarons or 20-30 large macarons
for macaroon shells*:
- 200 gr powdered sugar
- 120 gr blanched and slivered almonds
- 10 gr freeze-dried apple
- 1 heaping Tbspn ground cinnamon
- 1/2 tspn green powered food coloring, if desired
- 30 gr granulated (superfine, opt) vanilla sugar
- 100 gr egg whites, aged 1-2 days at room temperature or a week in the refrigerator, at room temp
- 1/4 tspn cream of tartar
- Prepare two baking sheets lined with silpats or parchment paper and a pastry bag with a large round piping tip.
- Combine the powdered sugar, almonds, dried apple, cinnamon, and green food coloring, if using, in a food processor and grind until a fine powder. Sift thoroughly through a fine mesh strainer and set aside.
- In a small bowl, have ready the granulated vanilla sugar.
- In a separate mixing bowl, combine the egg whites and the cream of tartar. Using a balloon whisk, quickly stir the mixture until the entire surface is covered with foam. Then, start whisking the egg whites, gradually adding in the granulated vanilla sugar. Whisk until you reach glossy, almost-stiff peaks.
- Gently fold the sifted almond and powdered sugar mixture into the egg whites in three to four stages, just until the ingredients are incorporated and the batter slowly re-absorbs peaks.
- Transfer the macaroon mixture to the prepared piping bag and pipe rounds on to the lined baking sheets. Tap the baking sheets on the table a few times to release air pockets.
- Rest the macaroons for at least 30 minutes (and up to 60), until the outside shells are no longer tacky and sticky to a light touch.
- Preheat oven to 150 degrees C, with the oven rack in the bottom third of the oven.
- Bake the macaroons in the oven, one sheet at a time, for 24-28 minutes total, rotating the sheet half-way through the baking time to insure even baking.
- Remove from oven and let cool.
*Note: the resting and oven temperature and times are adjusted to what works in my kitchen and oven (which, to my knowledge and according to two oven thermometers, is quite accurate). Please note that you may have to adjust according to what works in your kitchen and oven.
for apple butter buttercream:
- 3 egg yolks
- 1/3 cup sugar
- 1/4 cup water
- 1 cup butter, at room temperature
- 1/3 cup apple butter
- Whip the egg yolks until light and shows definitive streaks when you move your whisk through them.
- In a small saucepan, combine the sugar and water and stir until the sugar is completely wet. Cook over medium high heat, without stirring, until the sugar reaches 114 degrees C. Immediately remove from heat and (carefully!) gradually pour into the egg yolks while whisking, being careful not to hit the whisk wires.
- Continue whipping the egg yolks on medium high until the the outside of the bowl is no longer hot or warm to the touch.
- Add the butter in while beating, one tablespoon at a time.
- Once the butter is incorporated, beat in the apple butter. Use immediately to fill the macaroons (or, if you refrigerate the buttercream, bring to room temperature and beat to restore texture before using).
- 1 small tart green apple, in small, thin chunks (thick enough to still have crunch, though!)
- lemon juice
- ground cinnamon
- Toss the apple chunks with a light coating of lemon juice. Then, sprinkle with cinnamon.
- Fill the macaroons with the apple butter buttercream and apple chunks. Let the macaroons “cure” in an airtight container in the refrigerator overnight before serving.