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Chocolate Truffles & Truffle-Sea Salt Caramels

Christmas Candy 2

Well, it’s December 23.  Can you believe it?!  I feel like I just finished off the last of the Thanksgiving leftovers, and we’re already 2 days out from Christmas.  This year has absolutely flown by.  Not only is 2013 nearly over, but next Wednesday will mark the halfway point in my pregnancy.  Yikes!  When did that happen?  We could not be more thankful and excited for what 2014 has to offer us,  but until that comes, we still have one (big) holiday to get through.

Every year for the past several years, I have made some kind of candy or cookie at Christmas time.  Eggnog macarons, candy cane meringues, rum balls.  And for the past 2 years, truffles and caramels have taken center stage.

These are the best gifts to give to people this time of year.  I have a huge extended family, and making treats has always been the best way to make sure everyone gets some holiday love this time of year.  Truffles are fantastic; so, so easy to make, and so easily customizable to whatever flavors you want.  I did one basic truffle recipe with two different toppings: pistachios and cocoa powder.  Truffles dipped in cocoa powder are my personal favorite; so rich and decadent, that I have a habit of eating about 12 before even realizing I’ve consumed that much chocolate.  Whoops.  😉

Christmas Candy 1

These caramels are a take off of the Truffled Truffles I did on here awhile back.  Rich, super buttery caramels with that little truffle oil finish, and the bite of the sea salt … these are the best caramels ever.  The main trick that I’ve finally picked up on with caramels is to never stir the sugar; only swirl the pan.  Stirring the sugar can create crystallization, which makes for gritty caramels, very unappealing.  These little babies are smooth as can be, and melt in your mouth immediately.  Before I got everything cut and wrapped, Shawn was surreptitiously taking slices of it off of the brick, he loves these caramels so much.  Ahh, the rush of Christmas sugar.

I love Christmas.  We will be eating fondue and crab Christmas Eve with my family, followed by a Christmas morning of stockings, gifts and a delicious brunch.  This year is particularly poignant, as it is the last year for Shawn and me as a family of two.  This time next year, we will have a little 6-7 month old, and will get to start all of our own traditions to carry on throughout the years.  I can’t wait to see what the coming years have to bring us.

And to you, my lovely readers, I wish all who celebrate a very merry Christmas!  THG

Chocolate Truffles
Yields 50
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Ingredients
  1. 24 oz. bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped and divided
  2. 5 Tbsp. unsalted butter
  3. 1 cup heavy cream
  4. 1 1/2 Tbsp. light corn syrup
  5. 3 Tbsp. good brandy
  6. 2 Tbsp. coffee liqueur
  7. 1/2 cup dark cocoa powder
  8. 1 cup green pistachios, finely chopped
Instructions
  1. In a glass bowl set over a pot of simmering water, melt together 16 oz. bittersweet chocolate and unsalted butter. Stir until just smooth and set aside.
  2. Heat heavy cream and corn syrup over medium heat until bubbles just begin to form along the sides of the pan. Quickly pour over melted chocolate and stir a few times to incorporate. Let sit for 2-3 minutes and stir until mixture is smooth. Add brandy and coffee liqueur and stir to incorporate. Pour into glass baking dish and refrigerate 1 hour to set.
  3. Using a melonballer, scoop chocolate mixture and roll into 1 inch spheres. Place on a parchment sheet and refrigerate another 1 hour.
  4. Melt remaining 8 oz. bittersweet chocolate in a glass bowl over simmering water until smooth. Allow chocolate to cool to about 92-93F. Using two regular teaspoons, roll truffles in melted chocolate until fully covered. Tap on the edge of bowl to release any extra chocolate from around truffle. For cocoa powder truffles: add chocolate dipped truffle to bowl of cocoa powder and gently roll to coat. Tap to release excess powder and set on parchment paper lined baking sheet to set. For pistachio truffles: place chocolate dipped truffles on parchment paper lined baking sheet and quickly sprinkle with chopped pistachios.
  5. Let truffles set with chocolate at room temperature for another 1 hour. Store in an airtight container at room temperature.
The Humble Gourmet http://www.thehumblegourmet.com/
Truffle-Sea Salt Caramels
Yields 40
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Ingredients
  1. 3 cups white sugar
  2. 1/3 cup light corn syrup
  3. 1/2 cup water
  4. 3 tsp. truffle oil, divided
  5. 1 1/2 cup heavy cream
  6. 1/2 cup unsalted butter, cubed
  7. 2 tsp. pink sea salt, plus more for sprinkling
  8. 1 tsp. vanilla extract
Instructions
  1. Line a 13x9 inch glass baking dish with parchment paper. Lightly brush the parchment paper with vegetable oil and set aside.
  2. In a large saucepan, heat sugar, corn syrup, water and 1 tsp. truffle oil over medium-high heat. Do not stir the sugar mixture; just swirl as necessary. Allow sugar to bubble and darken in color to a deep golden brown (keep a close eye to make sure sugar doesn't burn.)
  3. While the sugar is caramelizing, bring heavy cream, butter, remaining 2 tsp. truffle oil and sea salt to a boil. Set aside.
  4. Once the sugar mixture has reached a deep golden brown, remove from heat and quickly whisk in heavy cream mixture. Be careful; it will quickly bubble up! Once heavy cream mixture is incorporated, whisk in vanilla and return to medium heat. Heat caramel to firm ball stage, about 250F. Immediately remove from heat and carefully pour into prepared pan. Refrigerate until caramel has set, about 2-3 hours.
  5. Cut up several 3x3 inch squares of either parchment paper or wax paper. Lightly brush vegetable oil on a cutting board and large knife. Remove caramel from the pan and parchment paper and place on cutting board. Sprinkle generously with pink sea salt. Cut into 1 inch wide strips, and then into 1x1 inch pieces. Wrap in parchment paper or wax paper and set aside. Continue to brush knife with vegetable oil as needed. Refrigerate wrapped caramels until ready to serve.
The Humble Gourmet http://www.thehumblegourmet.com/

Chocolate Bavarian Cream & An Anniversary

Chocolate Bavarian Cream 2

 

Today is my second anniversary as The Humble Gourmet.  Yay!

I have so enjoyed this journey with all of you, and I look forward to sharing more recipes and stories and life events in the future.  I hope you have all enjoyed it as much as I have.

Reflecting back on the two years, I have accomplishments that I’m proud of, and more that I would like to achieve in the upcoming year.  I’ve shared some personal stories and moved to a new location.  We’ve had Coffee & Doughnuts, the Best Granola Ever, and Christmas Dessert in February.  I haven’t been as productive on the blog as I wanted to this year due to my health issues, but now I’m feeling good and rarin’ to go.  I’m hoping in the next year to have more diverse recipes, I want to develop a new series of posts (in the works now, as a matter of fact), and possibly my first giveaway!  So much more to do, I hope you’ll all be here with me for it!

Chocolate Bavarian Cream 1

 

So, in honor of this second anniversary, I’ve made chocolate Bavarian cream.  Haven’t had Bavarian cream, you say?  Well, now’s the time to try it.  Almost like a cross between a mousse and a panna cotta, Bavarian cream is smooth and creamy, but uses gelatin to hold its form.  It’s typically done in a large batch and put into a decorative mold, which is then turned out on a platter and adorned with cream and berries, but I went simple with this one.  We are a household of two, so small ramekins are a better fit for us than a large molded version.  But my goodness, were these delicious.  They were gone almost as quickly as they were set.  A little pink sea salt to bring out the chocolate, a couple of fresh raspberries (the last of the season here…boo!), and a sprig of mint and my friends, we were in business.  I know working with gelatin can be intimidating, but this dessert is practically fool-proof.  Consider it your entry to the gelatinized, set dessert club.  You won’t be sorry.

What sort of things would you like to see on The Humble Gourmet in the upcoming year?  Any recipe suggestions?  Posts?  More stories?  Let me know in the comments!  THG

Chocolate Bavarian Cream 3

 

Chocolate Bavarian Cream
Serves 6
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Ingredients
  1. 6 oz. bittersweet chocolate, broken into small pieces
  2. 1 1/2 Tbsp. powdered unflavored gelatin
  3. 1/4 cup cold water
  4. 4 egg yolks, at room temperature
  5. 2/3 cup sugar
  6. 1 tsp. pink sea salt
  7. 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  8. 1 1/2 cups whole milk
  9. 2 cups heavy cream
  10. Raspberries and fresh mint, for garnish
Instructions
  1. In a double boiler, melt chocolate over medium heat until fully melted and smooth. Set aside.
  2. In a small bowl, sprinkle powdered gelatin over cold water and let bloom, about 5 minutes.
  3. In a medium bowl, whisk together egg yolks, sugar, sea salt and vanilla until smooth and thick. Set aside.
  4. In a small saucepan, heat milk until bubbles just begin to form around the edges. Remove from heat. Pour hot milk into the egg yolk mixture in a slow stream, whisking constantly to avoid cooking the eggs. Return egg and milk mixture to saucepan and heat over medium, stirring frequently, until mixture coats the back of a spoon (about 5-10 minutes). Do not let it boil. Add bloomed gelatin and whisk to incorporate (it may bubble up; be careful not to let the mixture overflow). Add chocolate and mix until combined. Strain mixture into a clean bowl and set aside.
  5. In a stand mixer, whisk heavy cream until just before stiff peaks form (peaks should be firm, but fold over when lifted). Fold in half of the chocolate mixture until smooth, then fold in the remainder. Continue to gently fold until mixture is completely incorporated. Divide mixture among 6 small ramekins or one large gelatin mold, smoothing the top. Cover with plastic wrap and put in refrigerator to set, at least 3 hours.
  6. Once mixture has set, remove from refrigerator. To unmold: dip the mold or ramekin in hot water just up the sides for about 5 seconds. Run a butter knife around the edges. Turn a plate over the top and, holding onto the plate and mold, flip over. Carefully pull up the mold, wiggling gently if necessary to release the cream. Garnish with berries and mint and serve immediately.
The Humble Gourmet http://www.thehumblegourmet.com/

Pumpkin Pots de Creme with Chocolate Ganache

Pumpkin Chocolate PDC 2

Happy Halloween my friends!  The bewitching hour is upon us.  Who has plans for tonight?  Party?  Trick or treating?  Stuffing your face with pizza and candy while you watch the scariest movies Netflix Streaming has to offer?  Just me?  Okay.

Pumpkin Chocolate PDC 4
If you do find yourself in the mood for a decadent and devilish dessert, I have just the thing for you.  Pumpkin pots de creme with a chocolate ganache cap.  Rich and sweet and perfectly adult.  I have seen so many great kid’s Halloween desserts on the Internets lately (some of them are incredible), but I thought a nice adult Halloween dessert would be in order.  Not to say kid’s won’t like it; but I have a feeling you will be the one licking the bowl clean this year.  😉

Pumpkin Chocolate PDC 3
A variation of my Sweet Potato Pots de Creme from two years ago, this one features pumpkin puree, cardamom, and pinch of sea salt for variation.  Plus, that dark chocolate ganache is the perfect compliment; thick and rich and bittersweet to compliment the earthy custard below.  An elegantly ghoulish dessert for this Halloween night.

Pumpkin Chocolate PDC 1

I wish you all a safe and happy All Hallow’s Eve!  And, for fun, check out this great article from howstuffworks.com on the history of trick or treating.  Happy Halloween!  THG

Pumpkin Pots de Creme with Chocolate Ganache
Serves 6
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Ingredients
  1. 1 1/2 cups plus 3 Tbsp. heavy cream
  2. 1 vanilla bean, split and seeds scraped
  3. 1 cinnamon stick
  4. 5 egg yolks at room temperature
  5. 1/3 cup sugar
  6. 2/3 cup pumpkin puree
  7. 1/2 tsp. ground cardamom
  8. 1/2 tsp. sea salt
  9. 1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg
  10. 5 oz. dark chocolate, broken into small pieces
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 300 F.
  2. In a small saucepan, heat 1 1/2 cups heavy cream, vanilla pod and beans, and cinnamon stick over medium-high heat until bubbles just begin to form around the edges. Remove from heat and let spices steep for 15 minutes.
  3. In the meantime, whip egg yolks and sugar together until thick and ribboned. Remove cinnamon stick and vanilla pod from the cream mixture. Slowly pour hot cream mixture into the egg yolks, whisking constantly to prevent cooking the eggs. Once cream is mixed in, add pumpkin puree and mix throughly. Add cardamom, sea salt and nutmeg and mix.
  4. Place 6 small ramekins or teacups in the bottom of a roasting pan. Pour custard mixture into the ramekins, leaving about 1/2 of space. Add hot water to the roasting pan so that the bottom 2/3 of the ramekins are submerged.
  5. Bake ramekins in roasting pan in the middle of the oven for about 30-45 minutes, until sides are set and center is still slightly wobbly. Remove ramekins from water bath and refrigerate until set, about 2 hours.
  6. Heat remaining 3 Tbsp. heavy cream in the microwave, about 30 seconds (mind that it doesn't overflow). Place chocolate pieces in a heatproof bowl. Immediately pour hot cream over chocolate and stir until chocolate is fully melted and glossy. Spoon chocolate over set pots de creme and smooth the tops. Refrigerate until ready to serve.
The Humble Gourmet http://www.thehumblegourmet.com/

 

Monday Morning Coffee Break

Coffee Break

 

Good morning!  Hope everyone’s weekend was pleasant.  Mine was fairly lazy; some baking, some movie watching.  We drove across the new span of the Bay Bridge on Sunday, which was very cool.  It was so bizarre seeing the old span running along side, an angle I had never seen before.  But now it’s back to the office.  Take it easy this Monday and check out these links:

 

Buzzfeed featured these incredible vintage photographs of Paris at night.  As if I wasn’t already completely in love with that city.

The Kitchn has a great tutorial for making your own butter and clarified butter.  No frontiersman gear necessary.

Buzzfeed (again) has a great post of DIY recipes for the overachieving foodie.  Homemade Cinnamon Toast Crunch, anyone?

And speaking of homemade breakfast foods, Tieghan at Half Baked Harvest made some homemade chocolate fudge Pop-tarts.  I think pop-tarts are going to become the new cake pops/cupcakes/cronut.

 

Have a great week!

The Humble Gourmet on Babble

Hey friends! Hope everyone is well on this Friday morning. I have been anxiously awaiting the weekend; plans to see the lovely Emily to get an exciting recap of her London vacation. I expect to be green with envy. A trip to the Oakland Zoo (my favorite) and a few new recipes to share with all of you. But, for today some exciting news. I have been featured on Babble.

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Sheri from Donuts, Dresses and Dirt has done a feature on recipes using truffle salt and used my truffle caramels recipe. Go to Babble to check it out!
Thanks again Sheri for the notice!

Friday Instagram Round-Up 6

Oh, Friday. You know what that means…Instagram round-up! And weekend. Oh, I love me the weekend. The weather has been so beautiful lately here, I can’t wait to get out in the sunshine. Our yard is definitely in need of some de-winterizing (i.e., get rid off all the brown), but we already have blossoms on the plum tree and jasmine bushes. The jasmine smell in the morning is enchanting; great way to wake up. I also have a Prohibition-themed birthday party for some friends this weekend… Post to follow next week!

In the meantime, let’s get to Instagramming, shall we?

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Celeriac and artichoke heart soup with some crusty bread. Perfect winter to spring transition dinner.

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Working on my presentation: grilled chicken, sautéed Brussel sprouts on a baked polenta cake.

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Discovered in my make-up case: Jane brand cosmetics circa 1998. Hello my name is Jillian and I’m a hoarder.

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Reinventing the wheel, or rather, the rice bowl; broiled salmon and steamed asparagus over rainbow quinoa.

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Dinner at The Vine, a wine & tapas bar in San Leandro. Those beans are ridic.

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Avocado-chocolate mousse, recipe courtesy of A Cozy Kitchen. Super creamy and rich. You must make this.

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The little things in life: opening up my dictionary at work to the EXACT page I needed. I may have squealed in excitement.

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Fried brown rice, roasted pork tenderloin and soft boiled egg yolk. Delish.