Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Simply Chocolate Truffles

The Christmas tree is gone, the decorations are all stored away for another 11 months and now it is back to reality and routines, right?  Not so fast.  Before you rush back into your daily to-do's, you must take a minute to make these chocolate truffles.  No sharing with the kids, friends, or co-workers. 

Yes, they would have made the perfect little hostess gift for all those holiday parties, but there is a reason why I waited until now to post this recipe. You have worked hard wrapping, shopping, hosting and cooking all holiday season and so you deserve these truffles.  Trust me.

Before my daughter was born, I had a catering business here in Los Angeles and these truffles were my most requested dessert.  I know that chocolate has a reputation for being difficult to work with.  A ganache that's too runny, chocolate that won't harden properly and those unsightly white streaks!


All will be well if you know a few things beforehand.  Melting your chocolate takes patience. No rushing.  Always melt it in a separate bowl placed over a pan of gently steaming water.  Never let the water get too hot or touch the bottom of your bowl.  This will result in scorching the chocolate and a bitter unappealing taste.  Also, use the very best chocolate that you can find.  I like to use semi-sweet with a 61% cocoa content. This makes the truffles intensely flavored without too much sweetness. Most chocolate brands will be available in small wafers that melt quickly and evenly.

Though decadently rich and silky, these truffles are deceptively easy to make and require only a few basic kitchen tools.  A double boiler, wisk, small 1 inch scoop (or your hands!) and a sheet pan are all you will need.

The rest is easy, a little messy and very delicious.

Chocolate Truffles

Ganache Centers
16 oz. semi-sweet chocolate
16 oz. (2 cups) heavy cream

Chocolate coating
16 oz. semi-sweet chocolate

Place 16 ounces of chocolate and equal parts cream in the top of a double boiler, make sure the bottom of the bowl does not touch the water, and melt over low heat.  As I mentioned earlier, I like semi-sweet chocolate for my truffles but if you prefer a darker chocolate, feel free to substitute that in place of the semi-sweet.  Stir occasionally until the ganache mixture is melted and takes on a glossy sheen.  Remove from heat and allow to cool in the refrigerator for 2-3 hours.  The mixture will become thicker as it cools.

Removed cooled ganache from the refrigerator. Use your 1 inch scoop, or a spoon, to scoop out a 1 inch ball of the ganache.  Here is the messy part.  Lightly and quickly, use the palm of your hands to roll the ganache into balls.  If you tend to have warmer hands, they will melt slightly.  If you work quickly and try to handle them as little as possible they can be coaxed into taking on a round shape.  It takes a few tries to get the hang if it.  Once you have a tray rolled out, place it in the refrigerator to chill before the next step.  Meanwhile prepare your coating.

Using the same method as above, melt 8 of the remaining 16 ounces of chocolate in the top of a double boiler on low heat.  In order for the coating to harden and form a hard shell around your ganache you will need to temper the chocolate.  I have a simple method for doing this but if you would like the more technical aspects of tempering David Leibovitz does a beautiful job explaining the chemistry behind it along with several good techniques to try.

Once your chocolate has melted, remove the pan from the heat and stir in the remaining 8 ounces of chocolate.  Keep stirring.  The additional chocolate will melt as your stir, cooling the chocolate and ensuring that it will be tempered.  

When all the chocolate had melted it is just a matter of dipping each ganache center into the chocolate and allowing it to harden.  If it is warm in the kitchen I like to place my truffles into the refrigerator for about 30 minutes to help them along.  After this, they can be stored in a cool place at room temperature or in the refrigerator.

I am a purist when it comes to my chocolate but you may like to experiment by adding flavors to your ganache.   Hazelnut (Frangelico), coffee (Kahlua), raspberry (Chambord)  or cherry (Kirsch) are all good options.  If you master the truffle technique and want to experiment, consider skipping the tempered coating and rolling your ganache centers directly in a dark cocoa powder...an equally decadent treat.  

Monday, December 8, 2014

A Very Merry Sale at Amuse Me Shop

It is a very Merry Christmas indeed with 30% off of ALL items in the shop until December 14, 2014. Let us help you check some items off of your list.  Reversible aprons make excellent gifts for the girlfriends in your life and matching ones are available for the tots.  Be sure to check out our new line of kangaroo pocket tank tops and pants for girls while you are there.  The always classic Austen Dress is also available in many colors, including red for the holidays.  Happy Shopping!
etsy.com/shop/AmuseMeShop    Use code VERYMERRY

Monday, November 3, 2014

Angler Fish Costume for Halloween

I had hoped to post this for you before the holiday, just in case any of you were thinking of taking on your own fishy project.  However, I was sewing and primping this lovely bioluminescent specimen right up until the moment we went out the door.  

Six weeks ago when my 8 year-old decided to be a deep sea Angler Fish for Halloween, I said heck-yeah let's do this! Two weeks in, countless bent needles and two jammed sewing machines later, I was beginning to doubt my own sanity.  I kept moving on it and soon found myself really excited about the progress I was making.  Slowly our fish came to life and once we saw it lit up at night...

let's just say it was a proud moment.

Here is a little bit about how I put it together.
I found an out of print Simplicity pattern for a child's fish costume on eBay.  This was the base for the body and shape of the fish.  I wanted it to look less goldfish and more like a predator so I sketched new patterns for the tail, dorsal fin and side lateral fins.  I detailed these with black vinyl to get the feeling of bony spikes.  I also used vinyl on the lips and crafted individual teeth out of foam and felt.  These were sewn on at odd angles with longer ones in the center and along the lower jaw.  

 I also added a vinyl detail along his back with three bioluminescent circles on blue to shine through at night.  The illicium, that's the long projection from his head, was really fun to construct.  I used a very light tubing with a coat hanger to help give it weight and shape and ran tiny led lights through it.  the whole structure is topped off with a ping pong ball.  His eyes are battery operated push lights.

Notice that I am now referring to the fish as 'him'.  We have become somewhat attached.

Monday, October 20, 2014

A Deliciously Simple Jam Crostata for Fall

Summer overstayed its welcome this year.  It just wouldn't end.  Even now, as the cool undertones in the breeze whisper "fall", summer is struggling to stay just.. a.. little.. bit.. longer.  This is why I had to buy the dozens of late summer yellow peaches.  It simply just hit me, when I saw the pears and apples crowding the market stalls, that summer would eventually loosen her grip and I'd have to wait another year to make my jam.  So you see, I had to buy the peaches.

Luckily I found a good use for my pantry of jam (my jamtry if you will...)  You can use a combination of flours for the crostata crust.  It is delicious with a traditional buttery all-purpose flour crust.  I like addition of almond flour, the crumbly texture balances out the the chewy jam.  If you find  the crust too sweet for your taste, try using a more acidic jam or marmalade.  The Blue Chair Jam always balance out their fruit recipes with a good amount of acid so for me, the peach jam was delicious and not too sweet.

End-of-Summer Yellow Peach Jam//recipe from Blue Chair Jam Cookbook

Now for the recipe-

Jam Crostata for Fall

2 cups all purpose flour
1 cup almond flour
3/4 cup cane sugar
1/2 tsp. baking powder
Small pinch of sea salt
3/4 cup unsalted butter
3 eggs, separated (save the whites for later use)
12 ounces of jam or marmalade

  • Preheat oven to 375 degrees and butter a 10 inch tart pan.  I used a slightly smaller 8 inch tart pan for this recipe because I like a thicker crust and having extra crumble topping to use for other desserts later in the week.  If you prefer yours to be thinner, use the larger pan.
  • In a food processor pulse together flour, sugar, baking powder, salt and butter until the mixture is crumbly and resembles soft sand. Add the three egg yolks and pulse until mixture just begins to hold together.  Press 3/4 of dough mixture into your tart pan.  Reserve the remaining mixture.  This is your crumble topping.  There is no need to blind bake the crust first.
  • Spread your jam of choice over the dough.  Be sure to go all the way to the sides.  The parts touching the pan turn out chewy and good!
  • Sprinkle the remaining crumble mixture on the top and bake for 30-40 minutes.

    Crostata Crust//photography by Amuse Me

Jam Crostata//photography by Amuse Me

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Welcome Fall, Another Sale

We are excited to welcome Fall with 35% off all of our Adult and Children's reversible Apron styles.
Children's Aprons, originally $45.00 are now $35.50 and Adult Aprons, originally $65.00 are now on sale for $45.50.  As always we offer $6 flat rate USPS shipping on all orders.

Happy shopping and let's get cooking!