Wednesday, June 2, 2010


These days, I do more cookbook reading than actual cooking, although I’m trying to get back into the habit of experimentation. However, it means, practically, that I’ve got dozens of recipes I’d like to try, floating around in my brain, at any given time.

There are certain recipes that will appeal to me, and it may take me weeks, if not months, to finally get to them. The catalyst for making it might be a paycheck, the weather, a social event, or simply availability.

For the truffles I made last week, it was partly viability, and partly a social thing. I needed to bring a dish to pass for Memorial Day, and I realized I had all the ingredients on hand to make them.

These truffles are adapted from Sally Schneider’s book “A New Way to Cook,” which is sort of a healthy eating cookbook. Her philosophy seems to be threefold: 1. use quality ingredients, 2. use processed foods sparingly, and 3. go ahead and use tasty fats, but use the minimum amount possible for the maximum punch.

Now, these truffles aren’t healthy, but they are healthier. If you can limit yourself to eating only a few, they are even healthier. Much like my friend The Brass Chef, I’m of the belief that if it doesn’t taste good, it’s not worth eating, even if it’s “healthy.” So something like low-fat pizza (shudder) is really anathema to me. Better to limit myself to one slice, or better yet, just eat pizza less often.

Her truffle recipe uses chestnut puree to thicken and bind the truffles, so you can get away with using less chocolate AND whole milk instead of heavy cream. If you have a food processor, and you can find pre-roasted pre-peeled chestnuts, this recipe is pretty easy to make, as far as truffles go.

You basically simmer the chestnuts in some milk, on very low heat, until the nuts are tender and the milk has reduced. You add your chocolate, and process the bejeezus out of the mixture until the nuts are completely smooth and incorporated into the mix. You add some flavorings or booze at the end, then refrigerate for a few hours to let everything firm up.

Then, you roll the truffles, and coat in cocoa powder. Which is somewhat messy, but fun.

Once I put these out at the party, they didn’t last long.

Schneider talks about how the chestnut puree has a texture similar to a starch like potato starch, and also thicken like a starch. So I’m tempted to rework the recipe to use some other starches such as dried powdered potato starch (found some at my local Asian mart).

I’ve got the rest of the ingredients, other than the chestnuts, still sitting at home, so it’d be a no-brainer. Further updates as events warrant.

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