Saturday, April 22, 2006

tea-themed chocolate truffles experiment

first, i apologize for not having a photo for this post. if i were a smart girl, i would have hidden a few samples for a photo session, but, alas, they were all dispatched quite quickly in a manner that suggested they were somewhat yummy. i gobbled quite a few myself.

so, i initially got this idea into my head after i got back from japan. i brought back a bag of that matcha tea, which, if you are too lazy to follow the link, is a powdered green tea that you mix straight into the water, no straining or tea bag required. you may recognize it as the flavoring responsible for green tea ice cream. anyway, i love the flavor of matcha. it pairs really well with sweet, creamy flavors, as i discovered when i soon found myself addicted to a uniquely japanese starbucks concoction, the matcha latte. this would taste really good with some white chocolate, i thought. hence the experiment.

so here was my first stab at matcha white chocolate truffles. the recipe for truffles is quite simple, just cream and chocolate, and flavoring if you wish (usually liqueur), blended together and then allowed to chill. i used 1/2 cup of heavy cream, about 3 tablespoons of matcha and 8 ounces of white chocolate, chopped. the process requires you to slowly bring the cream just up to boiling, then turn it off and add the chocolate. when flavoring with a liqueur or espresso, you can just throw that in at that step. however, if i used the matcha already "brewed," i thought i would not get the intense matcha flavor that i wanted and that i might throw off the recipe with too much water. so, i added the powdered tea straight to the cream and heated them together. that way, i got the heat i wanted to bring out the flavors in the tea but did not change the intensity or water down the recipe. (i got this idea from the other truffle i made, which i'll get to in a moment.) one tip i would add here about blending the matcha, is next time i would put the matcha powder in the saucepan first, then mix in a small amount of the cream to make a paste, then slowly and continuously incorporate the rest of the cream and then heat the mixture. the matcha has the consistency of powdered sugar and, as i learned, has the same annoying affinity for making lumps. so, after heating the cream, i took it off the heat and poured it over the chopped chocolate that i had waiting in a bowl. a few stirs and the chocolate was all melted and incorporated and now comes the hard part for me, being patient and letting it cool. after cooling for a few hours, i transferred the truffle mixture into a pastry bag and piped it into white chocolate lined candy molds.

the other experiment was earl grey tea and dark chocolate truffle. i had an earl grey tea infused chocolate bar once from a belgian chocolatier somewhere here in l.a. and i was instantly hooked. one of my favorite food experiences is the amazing process of tasting the different flavors as they develop in your mouth over the course of one bite. [i have re-written that sentence 17 times and it still sounds lame, but i can't keep doing this all day.] it's kind of the holy grail of food for me, i love it when it happens and i'm trying to get my cooking skills up to a level where i can create this effect. any foodies or professionals out there who know the technical term for this, please help me out. anyway, the earl grey tea infused truffle achieved this. yum. i tried a little bit of a different recipe for this truffle. instead of cream, i used 3/4 cup of creme fraiche, a tablespoon of earl grey tea leaves (i splashed out on a tin of really nice earl grey called kousmichoff), and 6 ounces of bittersweet chocolate (54%). i heated the creme fraiche and the tea together really slowly until it just boiled, stirring constantly. by that time, the tea had infused into the creme fraiche quite nicely, giving it a beige tinge and an amazing aroma. then i strained the hot creme fraiche through my trusty tea strainer over the chopped chocolate. again, a few stirs, some waiting around, and then straight into the pastry bag and some dark chocolate lined candymolds.

all in all, i really liked both of these, but the earl grey one was definitely my favorite. the matcha white chocolate truffle with white chocolate coating was very sweet, almost a little cloying and didn't have anything to balance it. i think it was too much white chocolate with the shell around it. i think i might try a matcha white chocolate mousse, that would tone it down a little, and the addition of something like a pie crust or cake element would cut the overall sweetness. anyway, the earl grey was just right and, as i mentioned, achieved that flavor change thing, which had me dancing around the kitchen. not to brag, but my friend mina tried the earl grey and said, "oh, why are you a lawyer?" i don't know, mina, i don't know.


mooncrazy said...

I had lunch with little bird and was fortunate enough to taste both of these delicacies and I agree the matcha was a bit too sweet. My first bite of the earl grey was right after I'd eaten some powerful-hot spicy beef for lunch and couldn't taste the delicate flavor. When I took the second bite it was about an hour later and I could taste the tea but not overpowering, very subtle.

Have you thought of using lap-sang soochong tea? It has a wonderful smokey flavor.

doodles said...

I want one.........waaaaaaaaahhh!!!!

La Vida Dulce said...

What a lovely blog site! Your tea truffles sound yummy. May I recommend a book by my Pastry & Baking instructor Chef Bob Wemischner "Cooking with Tea" and also check out Kristy Choo's Jin Patisserie's website for more flavor combinations.

Dr.Gray said...

Actually green tea has been used with chocolate in Asia for a very long time now. It also has been used in high end truffles in the US for at least a decade now. You can find this a lot in New York as well as LA. Great combo I agree.