Sunday, March 17, 2013

Matcha Green Tea Truffles

My Cocoa Roar truffle kitchen closes up shop after Valentine’s Day until Thanksgiving each year. It makes sense to go on hiatus during the warmer months, not only for a whole slew of practical purposes but also in the interest of the chocolatier’s sanity. However, the response to this year’s Valentine’s truffles was so overwhelmingly positive that I decided to ride that momentum with a round of St. Patrick’s Day truffles.   How could I possibly deny my chocoholic customers, after all?

Many enthusiastically put in their two cents about which flavors I should do, and it was unanimously agreed that several flavors should be appropriately boozy. Guinness! Jameson! A green crème de menthe! Guinness again! Bailey’s! One friend said quite frankly, “I think you should just make whatever you want, and we’ll buy them!” 

Mini trial batches: Guinness bittersweet ganache and
swirly green tea&white chocolate ganache
I couldn’t resist doing the obvious flavors such as Bailey’s and Guinness for St Patrick’s, but I also wanted to do a token green truffle for the occasion. I figured that matcha green tea powder would fit the bill, naturally tinting the white chocolate a beautiful green without any artificial coloring. And it worked like a dream.

I tried dipping a few truffles in white chocolate at first, thinking that that would let the green center show through a bit more clearly. But I found that the all-white chocolate was too cloying and didn’t really let the green tea flavor sing. Instead, a very thin shell of bittersweet chocolate balanced out the rich center perfectly, and a pinch of the matcha powder on top gave the right visual clue as to the beguiling flavor contained within. 

Freshly-dipped truffles on parade!
I was in a truffle-making frenzy all week, not really stopping to grab my camera for step-by-step photo documentation, and a few of these shots were even snapped with my iPhone. But you get the idea. And the green tea truffles were such a hit, these were the only ones left at the end of the night. As you can see, they’re beauties and ready for their close-up. 

One Year Ago:  Black&White Guinness Float

I buy Valrhona bittersweet and Callebaut white chocolate in ridiculous bulk quantities when I’m in CocoaRoar mode. These are my go-to brands, but if you can’t access those as easily, I would also recommend white chocolate bars by Lindt or Green&Black. I often use a combination of the Lindt 70% and 85% bittersweet bars for dipping the truffles at the end.  Matcha green tea powder is readily available in most Asian food stores or online.

24 ounces good-quality white chocolate, coarsely chopped
2 Tablespoons matcha green tea powder, plus more for garnishing
1 cup heavy whipping cream
6 ounces bittersweet chocolate, divided (70% cocoa)

Put the white chocolate into a food processor and pulse several times till finely chopped. Add the matcha powder and pulse several more times till incorporated. 

Heat the cream in a small heavy saucepan over medium-high heat. When it just comes to a simmer, immediately remove from the heat and pour over the chopped white chocolate. Use a spatula to push all the chocolate down so that it is all covered by the cream. Cover the food processor bowl with its lid and let steep for a minute. 

Blend just until the white chocolate is fully incorporated, no more than 10 to 12 seconds, depending on the power of your food processor. Watch it carefully because you do not want to overbeat this ganache. At first you’ll see little flecks of the chocolate in the mixture, but after 10 seconds they should be fully incorporated into the ganache. Pour the ganache into a shallow pie plate or similar dish, scraping the bowl clean with a spatula. Cover with plastic wrap and let the ganache set in the refrigerator until firm, about 2 hours. 

Line a large rimmed baking tray with waxed paper. When the ganache is firm yet still pliable, scoop the chocolate up with a teaspoon and shape into 1-inch balls. Place on the prepared baking tray and let these set in the fridge for a few minutes while you prepare the dipping chocolate. 

Melt 4 ounces extra bittersweet chocolate in the top of a double boiler or in a large mixing bowl set in a skillet of simmering water. When the chocolate has melted, remove the bowl from the heat and add the remaining 2 ounces of chocolate, stirring constantly to let the residual heat melt the chocolate. This step “tempers” the chocolate, ensuring that your chocolate will remain stable and beautifully glossy when you dip your truffles in it. 

Line another baking tray with waxed paper. Set up your assembly line, working left-to-right (if you are right-handed): undipped truffles, melted chocolate, fresh baking tray, with a little bowl of the matcha powder nearby for garnishing. 

Working quickly, dip each truffle in melted chocolate and work it around in your hand for two seconds to make sure it’s thoroughly coated in a thin layer of melted chocolate. Transfer to the clean tray. Dip all the truffles in this fashion. Sprinkle each truffle with a pinch of the matcha powder. (Note: I usually start sprinkling on the matcha when I’ve dipped about a third of the truffles. The tempered bittersweet chocolate will begin to firm up and I want to get the matcha on there before it sets, but not so early that it disappears into the chocolate.) 

These taste best at room temperature as the flavors are in full bloom, but otherwise store them in an airtight container in the refrigerator. Makes approximately 40+ truffles, depending on how big you scoop them and how many you eat before they make it into completed truffle form!

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