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Before you start, you might want to read my new article: Hank's Guide to Making Truffles


Chocolate Truffles Supreme

My quest for creating the best chocolate truffle recipes has recently had a wonderful breakthrough.

It started with finding the wonderful extracts mentioned in the next recipe.

It dawned on my that while the organic concentrated flavors were lovely, that some of them lacked the full flavor dimensions of the real fruit, while actual fruit sometimes needed a little more intensity to stand up to the chocolate in the ganache center of my truffles.

So why not combine them?

That turned out to be a truly brilliant idea!

Ingredients and Recipe:

Use a food mill to get the juice out of raspberries, blackberries, or fresh passion fruit. Use enough fruit to obtain 1 cup of fresh juice. (For raspberries or blackberries, for example, I used two small containers of berries.)

Add 1/2 teaspoon of the corresponding organically-flavored extract to the juice. (E.g. raspberry extract for raspberry juice.)

Melt 12 ounces of fine quality chocolate in a bowl in the microwave (in 30 second heating segments, stirring until completely melted).

Add the juice and extract mixture to the melted chocolate, stirring until completely blended.

Follow the remaining steps in my guide to making truffles, starting with Step One, Part Four here, to complete the truflles.

(You will, of course, need to have a sufficient quantity of different bittersweet chocolate on hand for melting, and then dipping the truffle centers in.)

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Everyone has said that the blackberry, raspberry, and passion fruit truffles that I have made using this approach have been the best that they've ever tasted.

They are truly incredible!




A Wonderful Bunch of Organically-Flavored Truffles

I was recently told about a new very high quality source for organic, cold-extracted flavorings from fruits, herbs, and nuts. I visited the website Medicine Flower, and found an amazing set of flavors available, and over the last two months, have gotten 18 different ones.


I have used the following recipe to make a batch of about 14 truffles (feel free to double or triple the quantities to make larger batches, once you have the flavor depth to your liking.) :

Ingredients

3 ounces of high quality bittersweet chocolate (broken into small pieces if from a bar)
1/4 cup of organic heavy cream
several drops of one of the extracts (the number of drops indicated below)
enough chocolate of a different type (e.g. a blend of milk and dark chocolate) to melt and use to cover the truffle centers.

Procedure

Melt the 3 ounces of chocolate in one minute intervals in the microwave, and stir each time until melted.

Mix the flavor extract into the heavy cream and stir well, and then blend into the chocolate.

Follow the rest of the steps starting with Step One, Part Four here to make the truflles.

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Note: These are very concentrated extracts, at least 6 times stronger than any other extracts I've tried, which is why you only need a few drops for each recipe.

The very best flavors

Many of the flavors are simply stunning! True, clean, and just perfect.

My top favorites are:

Fruits: The very best: Banana, Blueberry, Guava and Strawberry

Also lovely: Raspberry, Passionfruit, Black Cherry, and Elderberry.

I would recommend using 4 - 8 drops of extract. Use the lower number if you want a subtler tasting truffles.

Flowers: Jasmine and Rose. These are truly incredible! Four drops is probably plenty.

Nuts: Hazelnut. I'd recommend using 8 drops, as it's a bit more subtle.


The other flavor extracts from them that I've used so far fall into two general categories: mild and very mild.

The Plum and Fig are very nice tasting but mild enough that you might use at least 8 or more drops to really taste their flavor.

The Mango, Black Currant, and Apricot were very mild in flavor and even though the truffles made with them were ok, I would recommend getting the other flavors first.

I have two more flavors to test (Orange and Blackberry) and might purchase others before I do so.

I am overjoyed to have such an incredible range of amazing flavors to add to my chocolate creations. I recently added the blueberry extract to my chocolate mousse and it was great!

I hope you find these as valuable for your baking explorations as I do.

P.s. everyone who has tasted any of these truffles has been incredibly impressed.



Amazing Lemon Almond Butter Truffles

1 Cup Alive Organic Almond Butter (the best almond butter ever)
1/3 cup Coconut Cream (the top part of the can of coconut milk)
1 teaspoon Vanilla extract
9 1/2 ounces of high quality dark or semisweet chocolate (not bittersweet)
1/3 cup of fresh squeezed lemon juice (do not use bottled or frozen)
and enough bittersweet coverture chocolate to coat each truffle (about a pound). (preferably a different, darker chocolate than what you used for the center)

Procedure:

Mix all of the ingredients except the chocolate together until thoroughly blended. Melt the dark/semisweet chocolate and blend into the above mixture.

Chill mixture in the refrigerator for an hour and a half.

Scoop the individual truffle centers using a one inch truffle scoop and place onto a cookie sheet covered with wax paper and chill for at least an hour. [Note: this batter is a bit sticky, so you will have to help the scooping process by using your fingers to remove each center from the scoop.]

Melt the bittersweet coverture chocolate in a bowl, and dip each of the truffle centers, and return to the waxed paper and chill until hard.

The blend of almond butter, lemon, and chocolate is really wonderful. Enjoy!


Delicious Black Cherry Truffles

1 cup of Black Cherry Concentrate from Natural Sources (click here to purchase it.)
1/4 cup organic Heavy cream
12 - 14 ounces top quality semisweet and/or bittersweet chocolate
and enough bittersweet coverture chocolate to coat each truffle (about a pound). (preferably a different chocolate than what you use for the center)

Procedure:

Melt the 12 ounces of chocolate in the microwave (stirring after 30 - 60 second intervals) until fully melted, and then blend in the cup of black cherry concentrate a little bit at a time, and then the 1/2 cup of Heavy Cream. Stir until fully blended.

Chill mixture in the refrigerator for an hour and a half.

Scoop the individual truffle centers using a one inch truffle scoop and place onto a cookie sheet covered with wax paper and chill for an hour.

Melt the bittersweet coverture chocolate in a bowl, and dip each of the truffle centers, and return to the waxed paper and chill until hard.

The black cherry flavor is excellent, and blends with the chocolate beautifully.

Enjoy!


Scrumptious Candied Ginger Truffles

Ingredients:

1 cup top quality candied ginger (I used organic)
2/3 cup of heavy cream (again, organic if possible)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract.
10 ounces of excellent quality bittersweet chocolate
and enough bittersweet coverture chocolate to coat each truffle (about a pound). (preferably a different chocolate than what you use for the center)

Procedure:

Place the candied ginger and the heavy cream in a food processor (with the metal cutting blade) and process until the largest remaining ginger pieces are quite small (mostly pureed).

Melt the 2/3 cup of chocolate in the microwave (stirring after 30 - 60 second intervals) until fully melted and blend in the ginger/cream mixture, and the vanilla extract.

Chill mixture for an hour.

Scoop the individual truffle centers using a one inch truffle scoop and place onto a cookie sheet covered with wax paper and chill for an hour.

Melt the bittersweet coverture chocolate in a bowl, and dip each of the truffle centers, and return to the waxed paper and chill until hard.

Many people called these my best truffles yet. I certainly think that they are outstanding and will make them again soon.

Hope you enjoy them.


Transcendental Pecan Truffles

Ingredients:

5 ½ ounces of very high quality milk chocolate (I used Newman's Own Organic Milk Chocolate)
1 ½ ounces of very high quality unsweetened chocolate (I used unsweetened Guitard chocolate)
¾ cup of raw pecan butter (the best raw pecan butter is Artisana brand, which you can purchase at your local health food store or online.
¼ cup Heavy Cream
1 teaspoon of Vanilla extract

For the coating:
enough bittersweet chocolate to coat each truffle (about a pound).


Procedure:

In a small bowl, mix all of the ingredients (except the bittersweet chocolate you will use for the coating) with a spoon, until fully blended.

Chill mixture for an hour.

Scoop with a one inch truffle scoop onto a cookie sheet covered with wax paper and chill for an hour.

Melt the bittersweet chocolate in a bowl, and dip each of the truffle centers, and return to the waxed paper and chill until hard.

With one bite, these became my favorite truffles of all time! And I was not alone in thinking these were incredible.




Two Raw Truffle Recipes

After dining at Cafe Gratitude in Berkeley, I was amazed by how energized I felt from eating raw food.

I began to research making raw desserts and so far have invented these two recipes:

1. Simple Raw Chocolate Truffles.

1/4 cup of raw almond butter (you can get the best raw almond butter from Living Tree (click on the name)).
3 tablespoons of Navitas Naturals Raw Chocolate Powder
1/2 teaspoon of Vanilla extract
1 tablespoon Maple syrup

Procedure:

In a small bowl, mix all of the ingredients with a spoon, until fully blended.

Scoop with a one inch truffle scoop onto a plate and chill for an hour.

Yummy and amazingly energizing.

Note: I used Maple Syrup instead of raw Yacon syrup because the latter has a strong molasses flavor, and instead of raw Agave nectar because agave is actually a high-fructose sugar syrup which may be unhealthy.


2. Simple Raw Chocolate Truffles, Improved!

1/4 cup of raw almond butter (you can get the best raw almond butter from Living Tree (click on the name)).
3 tablespoons of Navitas Naturals Raw Chocolate Powder
1/2 teaspoon of Vanilla extract
4 Medjool Dates, pitted

Procedure:

First place the dates in a food processor and chop them quite a bit. Add the other ingredients and process until chopped smooth and blended.

Hand-press portions of the chopped mixture (which may not have become a paste, depending upon how dry the dates are) into a one inch truffle scoop and scoop onto a plate and chill for an hour before serving.

These are incredibly yummy and invigorating.




Lovely Dried Apricot and Raspberry Puree Truffles

8 ounces of bittersweet chocolate (chopped into small pieces)
8 ounces of dried apricots (Trader Joes has superb slab apricots. Just use the best you can find. Do not use dark brown organic apricots, because their curing process kills most of the apricot flavor)
1 -2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/3 cup organic heavy cream
1/4 cup raspberry puree (see note in recipe)
Enough coverture chocolate to cover the truffles (approximately 14 ounces)

Procedure:

For this recipe, you can either use a food mill to puree raspberries (getting the juice while removing the seeds) or use Perfect Puree® frozen Raspberry Puree (but scoop it out and measure it without defrosting it).

Thoroughly puree the dried apricots with the heavy cream, raspberry puree, and the vanilla extract to a smooth paste in a food processor, and then set aside.

Melt the bittersweet chocolate in a microwave (heat for one minute increments and stir until thoroughly melted), then stir in the apricot/puree/cream mixture until fully blended.

Chill for an hour, and then scoop out the truffles onto a cookie sheet covered with wax paper and chill for an hour.

Melt the coverture chocolate in a bowl, and dip each of the truffle centers and return to the waxed paper and chill until hard.

They taste like a wonderful blend of apricot and raspberry!




Two Great Chocolate Passionfruit Truffle Recipes

For many years, I have wanted to find a source of passionfruit puree to use in the making of truffles. Most passionfruit juices and "mixers" are too dilute and filled with chemicals to even consider using. Although I was aware of the incredibly great quality of Perfect Puree products, and loved using their Raspberry Puree in truffle recipes and for raspberry coulis, I found it problematic to order such large quantities of puree at once, and so had to keep looking.

The search ended when Perfect Puree released their new 15 ounce consumer size containers. To make it even more perfect, my local Andronicos carried them in stock, so I didn't have to order them by mail, which can get quite expensive.

(If you are not near a store that carries them, click here to go to the Perfect Puree website.)

I ended up buying their Strawberry, Raspberry, and of course Passionfruit purees to make truffles with, and came up with two different passionfruit truffle recipes in short order:

Important Note: in the following recipes, I did NOT defrost the puree before using it. I scooped out the frozen puree (easy to do) and measured it -- while frozen -- for each recipe.

#1. Bittersweet Passionfruit Truffles.

Note: these are easy to make and just great!

Ingredients:

for the center:

1/3 cup heavy cream
2/3 cup frozen passionfruit puree
1/3 cup maple syrup
9 ounces of milk chocolate (get a very good quality milk chocolate)
9 ounces of bittersweet chocolate

For the coating:

enough bittersweet chocolate to coat each truffle.

Procedure:

Melt the milk and bittersweet chocolates together in a microwave, stirring frequently.

After the chocolate is all melted and taken out of the microwave, add first the heavy cream, next the maple syrup, and then frozen passionfruit puree -- stirring with each addition, until blended.

Chill for an hour or two.

Scoop out truffle centers onto wax paper on a cookie sheet, and chill again for an hour or so.

Melt the dipping chocolate and dip each center and return to wax paper and chill.

These are fantastic: sweet and sour and smashing!! A++



#2. Passionfruit-white chocolate-Marzipan truffles.

Note: do not try to create these truffles unless you have a lot of patience. The centers are very hard to form because the filling is sticky and quite difficult to work with. I'm only including this recipe because the results were worth it.

Ingredients:

For the center:

2/3 cup of Marzipan
1/4 cup of frozen passionfruit puree
4 ounces of white chocolate

For the coating:

enough bittersweet chocolate to coat each truffle.

Procedure:

break up the marzipan into little pieces and place in a food processor with the frozen puree. Process until smooth. Melt the white chocolate and add it to the blended mixture, and process a bit more until homogeneous.

Use a spatula to place into a bowl and chill in the refrigerator for a couple of hours at least (or in the freezer).

Scoop out truffle centers onto wax paper -- this sticky batter makes this very hard to do (even with small truffle scoop -- impossible to do by hand) -- and then chill again for a couple of hours.

Melt the dipping chocolate and dip each center and return to wax paper and chill. Note: the centers are so sticky that they are even hard to remove from wax paper, but do the best you can.

The results are a bit sweet, but worth the effort.




Wonderful Dried Apricot Truffles

8 ounces of bittersweet chocolate (chopped into small pieces)
8 ounces of dried apricots (Trader Joes has superb slab apricots. Just use the best you can find. Do not use dark brown organic apricots, because their curing process kills most of the apricot flavor)
1 -2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 cup organic coconut milk (or heavy cream if you don't want to use coconut milk)
Enough coverture chocolate to cover the truffles (approximately 14 ounces)

Procedure:

Thoroughly puree the dried apricots with the coconut milk and the vanilla extract in a food processor, and then set aside.

Melt the bittersweet chocolate in a microwave (heat for one minute increments and stir until thoroughly melted), then stir in the apricot/coconut milk until fully blended.

Chill for an hour, and then scoop out the truffles onto a cookie sheet covered with wax paper and chill for an hour.

Melt the coverture chocolate in a bowl, and dip each of the truffle centers and return to the waxed paper and chill until hard.

Because coconut milk doesn't spoil like cream does, these truffles store very well.

And they taste great!




Great New Gianduja and Apricot Truffles

7 ounces of Gianduja (milk chocolate and hazelnut)
5 ounces of bittersweet chocolate
7 ounces of high quality apricot jam
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup heavy cream
Enough coverture chocolate to cover the truffles (approximately 14 ounces)

Procedure:

Blend the apricot jam with the cream and add the vanilla extract and set aside.

Melt the gianduja and the bittersweet chocolate together, then stir in the cream/jam mixture, blend thoroughly.

Chill for an hour, and then scoop out the truffles onto a cookie sheet covered with wax paper and chill for an hour.

Melt the coverture chocolate in a bowl, and dip each of the truffle centers and return to the waxed paper and chill until hard.

The combination of hazelnuts and apricot and chocolate make these truffles divine!




Luscious Chocolate Polenta Cake with Chai-flavored Whipped Cream

1 cup water
1/4 cup polenta
4 ounces (1/2 cup) butter
9 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped into small pieces to melt easily
     (or 6 1/2 ounces bittersweet chocolate chips -- I used Schokinag very bittersweet chips)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 cup maple syrup
4 large egg yolks
5 large egg whites
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 pint whipping cream
additional maple syrup to sweeten the whipping cream.
2 - 3 "sprays" of Chai Pure Spice Essence (from http://www.cultureoflifestore.com/p593/Chai+Concentrated+Extract,+1.89oz,+Primal+Essence/product_info.html)

1. Heat oven to 300°. Butter a 9 inch round cake pan and place at the bottom of it a 9 inch circle of waxed paper. You can butter the top of the waxed paper circle, too. Set aside.

2. Combine the water and polenta in a saucepan and heat (with medium heat) and occasionally stir until mixture comes to a boil (2 to 3 minutes). Reduce heat to low simmer. Stir polenta often, to keep it from clumping, and cook until the polenta is thickens (4 to 5 minutes). Remove from heat and let stand (with cover on) for 2 minutes.

3. Add the butter and chocolate to the polenta, and stir until melted. Let it cool completely.

4. Combine the maple syrup, vanilla, and egg yolks in small bowl. Mix together thoroughly. Stir into the chocolate mixture.

5. Beat egg whites in large mixer bowl at high speed until soft peaks form (3 to 4 minutes). Continue beating, gradually adding the brown sugar, until glossy and stiff peaks form (2 to 3 minutes). Gently fold the beaten egg whites into the chocolate mixture.

6. Pour the mixture into the prepared cake pan. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes or until cake is just set in center. (I use the toothpick method to see if it's done.)

Cool first on a wire rack, and then in the refrigerator. I suggest removing the cake from the cake pane after it has been chilled in the refrigerator about 1/2 hour or more. (Place an inverted plate over the cake pan, turn it upside down, and tap on the cake pan to drop the cake onto the plate. Be sure to gently remove the waxed paper.)

Once cooled, make the whipped cream: Mix the whipping cream, a bit of maple syrup (about 3 - 4 tablespoons to taste), and two sprays of the Chai pure spice essence together, and then beat the whipping cream until completely whipped.

Use a spatula to cover the cake, both top and sides, with the whipped cream, and then chill in the refrigerator for at least two hours.

This was the cake I served at Thanksgiving and it was a great hit! The texture is fabulous and the taste superb.




Almond Honey Truffles


In time for Thanksgiving, I've invented a lovely almond-honey truffle. I was inspired by the incredible (award-winning) Orange Blossom Honey from Marshalls Honey. You can get some of this superb honey by clicking here.

Ingredients:

1 cup organic almonds
1/4 cup high quality honey
1 cup bittersweet couverture chocolate

Procedure:

Using a food processor, using the metal blade, grind the almonds until they are well ground, and then add the honey and continue grinding until the texture is smooth, like almond butter.

Chill the mixture for an hour.

Scoop out the almond-honey batter, using a 1 inch truffle scoop, onto a baking sheet covered with wax paper. Chill for an hour.

In a small pyrex bowl, melt the couverture chocolate in the microwave (heat for one minute, stir, heat for 25 seconds, stir, repeat until melted fully).

Because the centers tend to "sweat" almond oil, pat each one dry before dipping it in the melted chocolate. After dipping each center, place it back on the waxed paper.

Chill until the covering is hard.

These are actually very tasty and were very well received.




Crunchy Pistachio Truffles


Ingredients:

1 cup shelled pistachio nuts
8 ounces of high quality White Chocolate (e.g. Ghiradelli)
8 ounces of high quality Milk Chocolate (e.g. Green & Black)
8 ounces of bittersweet couverture chocolate

Procedure:

Using a food processor, grind the pistachio nuts until they are mostly well ground, but with some 1/4 nut-sized pieces still left. (In other words, don't grind until the nuts are powdered.)

Melt the white chocolate in a bowl in the microwave (heat for one minute, stir, heat for 25 seconds, stir, repeat until melted fully).

Mix the chopped/ground pistachio nuts into the melted white chocolate and stir until blended. Using a 1 inch truffle scoop, scoop out balls of this mixture onto a baking sheet covered with wax paper. Chill for an hour or until hard.

In a bowl, add the milk and bittersweet chocolates together and melt in the microwave (heat for one minute, stir, heat for 25 seconds, stir, repeat until melted fully).

Using a truffle dipper, dip each pistachio/milk chocolate center into the melted chocolate and return to the baking sheet covered with wax paper. Chill until the coating is hard.

One of my friends said that these were his favorite truffles yet!




A Wonderful Dessert Sauce


Ingredients:

1 cup Pomegranate paste (you can get this at middle eastern stores, I used the Carlo® brand).
1 cup Creme de Framboise liqueur (raspberry liqueur from France, I used G. E. Massenez brand -- liqueurs from Europe are much higher quality than American liqueurs.)

Procedure:

Thoroughly mix the two liquids in a jar, by adding both to the jar and shaking it vigorously.

Place in a creamer (or small bowl with serving spoon) for people to pour over ice cream or my exquisite Flourless Chocolate Cake.

This is a wonderful, wonderful sauce.




Sweet-Tart Pomegranate Chocolate Truffles


Ingredients:

14 ounces of mixed bittersweet chocolates
1 - 2 teaspoons of vanilla extract
2/3 cup Heavy (whipping) cream
2/3 cup Pomegranate concentrate (you can get this at middle eastern stores, I used the Carlo® brand)
1/4 to 1/3 cup of maple syrup (I use 1/4 for more tartness)
1/4 - 1/2 cup of cocoa (I prefer organic cocoa)

Procedure:

Melt the bittersweet chocolate in the microwave (heat for one minute, stir, heat for 25 seconds, stir, repeat until melted fully).

Blend in the pomegranate concentrate, cream, and vanilla fully.

Chill in the refrigerator overnight or until it hardens.

Scoop out into balls and roll in cocoa.

Chill again to set for an hour or so.

I have had many compliments on these sweet-sour chocolate truffles. No one guesses what the fruit in them is, but all agree they are great!




An Exquisite Flourless Chocolate Cake


As my readers already know, I have cut out processed carbohydrates in order to lose weight. After only one month of starting this diet, I dropped 15 pounds and could tighten my belt three more notches!

One day, I wanted to make a chocolate cake, but not one based on flour, so I developed the following recipe. (Yes, I know that I do use a little flour to keep the cake from sticking to the pan, but this is a minimal amount.).

The cake turned out sensational. Quite bittersweet, and great also when one alternates bites of cake with bites of vanilla ice cream.

Ingredients:

9" cake pan buttered and floured to prevent sticking
12 ounces of mixed bittersweet chocolates
1 1/4 stick of unsalted butter
1 - 2 teaspoons of vanilla extract
4 large eggs, at room temperature
A pinch of salt.
1 teaspoon of sugar.
1 tablespoon of Framboise liqueur or Dark Rum
1/4 to 1/3 cup of maple syrup (I use 1/4 but it makes for a quite bittersweet cake.)

Procedure:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees for 10 minutes.

Butter and then flour the 9 inch cake pan. Use cake flour.

Melt the 1 1/4 sticks of butter and the chocolate together in the microwave for 90 seconds, stir well, melt again for 30 seconds, and stir until completely melted. Let it cool for a few minutes.

(depending upon the power of your microwave, you many need to heat the butter/chocolate mixture in additional 30 second increments to get it completely melted and blended. For those just beginning to cook, always break the chocolate down into very small pieces before melting, to prevent internal roasting in the microwave.)

Separate the eggs, placing the whites in a mixing bowl, for whipping later, and the yolks in a separate small bowl.

In the separate small bowl, blend into the egg yolks: the maple syrup, Rum or Framboise, and vanilla extract. Then add this mixture to the butter/chocolate mixture.

Add the pinch of salt and the teaspoon of sugar to the egg whites and beat until stiff.

Fold 1/3 of the stiff egg whites into the chocolate/butter/yolks mixture. Gradually gently fold the remaining egg whites into the chocolate mixture.

Pour the batter into the cake pan and bake for 12 minutes.

To test the "doneness", place a toothpick into the cake about 1 inch from the edge. If it comes out dry, the cake is done.

(Note: the center of the cake should seem a bit uncooked at this point. Don't worry, it will firm up during the cooling process.)

Place on wire rack to cool.

Chill the cake in the refrigerator until you are ready to serve it.

Enjoy deeply!!




Chocolate Framboise Rose Truffles


I have always loved roses. Their color, fragrance, shape, and variety. And while I have tasted rose water and tried using it in the past for cooking, it never had a sufficient amount of rose flavor to use in making a chocolate dessert.

Lhasa Kharnak herb store to the rescue!

Those of you who have been reading and using my recipes for a while will remember their name. Lhasa Kharnak in an institution in Berkeley, around for over 30 years, providing locals with the highest quality herbs and spices. They also carry food-grade essential oils.

Note: do not purchase essential oils from any company that you don't know well, because most oils are extracted with hexane with is toxic in minute amounts.

I recently visited Lhasa Kharnak at their new location on Telegraph Avenue in Berkeley where the Shambhala Bookstore used to be. And the owner, my friend Jim Murdock, let me sniff various essential oils, and recommended his French Rose Absolute among the rose essences.

(An absolute is the purest distillation of a flower, but again, only use food-grade absolutes.)

I purchased a 5 ml. bottle of the Rose Oil, French absolute (for $55!) and proceeded to make my own dilution. To order this absolute, online, click here to go to the Lhasa Kharnak website.

As I mentioned in my Star Jasmine truffle recipe, which you can see by clicking here, one must dilute absolutes because they are much too strong to use directly in cooking.

To make the French rose absolute dilution: Fill a one ounce dropper bottle with the strongest pure grain alcohol you can find (not denatured, of course.) I use "white lightning" 180 proof alcohol for my base liquid, but you can use 151 proof vodka if you can't find anything stronger. Add five drops of the Rose absolute to this mixture and shake vigorously to dissolve it completely. Then label your dilution. (Note: the drops that come out of the absolute bottle are much smaller than normal drops. I am referring to these tiny drops.)

Now on to the recipe:

Ingredients:

10 ounces of mixed bittersweet chocolates
2/3 cup of Coconut Milk (preferably organic, not the "lite" kind)
two dropperfuls of the diluted rose absolute, see above
1/4 cup of fine quality French Framboise liqueur
enough couverture chocolate to cover the truffles (roughly 8 ounces)

Procedure:

Melt the bittersweet chocolate in the microwave (heat for one minute, stir, heat for 25 seconds, stir, repeat until melted fully).

Blend in the coconut milk fully.

Add the two dropperfuls of the diluted rose absolute to the Framboise, and stir, and then add to the chocolate/coconut milk mixture and stir thoroughly.

Chill in the refrigerator overnight or until it hardens.

Scoop out into balls for dipping in the melted couverture chocolate and chill.

Melt the coverture (coating) chocolate and stir until completely melted. Dip each center (ball) in the melted couverture chocolate to coat it fully, and then place on a tray covered with waxed paper.

Chill until hard (an hour or two).

These are truly fantastic -- wonderful -- truffles, and I'll have enough Rose Absolute left for the rest of my cooking days!




Rum - Coconut Milk Chocolate Mousse


A friend was over, and wanted me to whip up a chocolate dessert on the spot. I didn't have any cream in the house, but did have coconut milk, and so decided to invent this recipe.

Incidentally, did you know that coconut milk and coconut oil are "the next big thing" in dietary health? It turns out that doctors initially misconceived that coconut fats were like other saturated fats and would raise your cholesterol. They were way off! Coconut oil helps to burn fat, lower cholesterol, and also is anti-bacterial and anti-viral. Wow!

By the way, the recipe turned out great!

Ingredients:

14 ounces of mixed bittersweet chocolates
One 14 ounce can of Coconut Milk (preferably organic), not the "lite" kind
1 tablespoon of vanilla extract
1/4 cup of fine quality black rum (I used Goslings)

Procedure:

Melt the chocolate in the microwave (heat for one minute, stir, heat for 25 seconds, stir, repeat until melted fully).

Blend in the can of coconut milk fully, then add the rum and vanilla.

Chill in the refrigerator overnight.

Scoop out into small serving bowls and enjoy!

Note: I did this recipe a second time, with Framboise (raspberry) liqueur instead of Rum and it turned out great.




A Wonderful Chocolate Cream Fruit Pie For All Seasons


For Thanksgiving, I wanted to bring to my sister's house my chocolate whipped cream fruit pies, but was faced with a problem. There was no fresh fruit available!

I decided to try something new, using frozen, defrosted organic fruit, to see how it would do. The results were wonderful!

In the process, I also discovered that I wanted to make more of the chocolate whipped cream, since I was using less fruit at the bottom of the pie crust. Here's the new recipe:

Ingredients:

2 Oreo© cookie pie crusts
12 ounces of mixed bittersweet chocolates
4 1/2 cups of whipping cream
2 teaspoons of vanilla extract
6 - 8 tablespoons of high quality sugar
two to four packages of frozen organic fruit (I used strawberries and blueberries)

Procedure:

Remove the covers from the pie crusts, and take off their labels and glue so that you can use them -- inverted -- to cover the completed pies.

I decided that it would be more interesting to make two different pies than to mix the two types of fruit together.

So: In separate microwaveable bowls, place the strawberries and the blueberries. Defrost them, either over time or in the microwave, and then drain any excess liquid. Place half of the powdered sugar on each of the fruits, mix gently, and let them sit.

Melt the chocolate (about 2 minutes in the microwave) and stir until smooth. Let it cool a little but not to hardening at all.

Place each type of fruit into one of the pie crusts (i.e. don't put both fruits into each, keep them separate.)

Whip the cream and then gradually blend into the melted chocolate. Place this chocolate whipped cream equally over both pies, cover and chill for at least six hours.

Enjoy this wonderful new dessert.




Wonderful (Wonderful!) Hot Fudge Sauce -- Revisited
   
Friday, September 10, 2004

To my readers: I apologize for the very long delay (a year!) between new recipes. I was trying to watch my weight, and also was enjoying all of the recipes I already created!

My Mom was visiting last month, and prefers milk chocolate over dark chocolate, and this is what inspired me to create a new version of my hot fudge sauce. It turned out so incredibly great, that I had to share it with you. (I have since made it many times, and everyone loves it and says it is the best hot fudge sauce they've ever tasted.)

Ingredients:

equal weights of finest quality milk chocolate and bittersweet chocolate.
-- (I used the incredible organic Dagoba Milk Chocolate and Conacado 73% bittersweet chocolate bars; one each, they weigh 2 ounces apiece.) --
Heavy Whipping Cream (preferably organic). (about 1/4 cup, but use your judgement.)
a quart of the best quality Vanilla Ice cream

Procedure:

Melt the two types of chocolate together in a microwave for about 1 1/2 minutes, and then stir until smooth.

Add small portions of the heavy cream, stirring until blended before adding more, until the sauce is smooth and a bit lighter in color. This step requires your judgement, you can add quite a bit of heavy cream, more than you'd guess, and end up with a lovely chocolate sauce. (As you stir, the sauce gets thicker and thicker.)

Pour over the best Vanilla ice cream you can find, and enjoy!

Wow!



The Ultimate Chocolate Mini-Muffins
   
September 08, 2003

Ingredients:

7 1/2 ounces of bittersweet chocolate
2 1/2 sticks of unsalted butter (10 ounces)
1 1/4 cup cake flour
5 eggs
4 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
3/4 cup maple syrup
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
optional: 2 tablespoons Myer's Dark Rum
optional: tiny chocolate chips for the center of each muffin

Procedure:

preheat oven to 325 degrees.

You will need a nonstick mini-muffin pan with space for 24 muffins. (Apparently, the muffin size of these pans varies widely, so you may have extra batter left over.)

Blend the dry ingredients together (cocoa, cake flour, and salt) and set aside.

Melt the chocolate and butter in the microwave (heat for one minute, stir, and heat in smaller increments until fully melted)

Add to the melted chocolate/butter mixture, while stirring, first the maple syrup, then the vanilla and rum, then each of the eggs, and mix thoroughly.

Add the dry ingredients into the chocolate/butter mixture and stir until just fully blended.

Use a tablespoon to fill each muffin cup and then bake for 15 minutes. (The muffins will taste better if the centers are a little soft still.)

Cool pan on a rack for about 20 - 30 minutes, and then remove the muffins.

These are great with ice cream, but also excellent all by themselves.

(P.s. The second time, I'm added 6 - 10 tiny high-quality chocolate chips to the center of each muffin. Unbelievably good!)



Chocolate Black Raspberry Jam Truffles
   
May 31, 2003

Ingredients:

12 ounces of bittersweet chocolate
7 ounces of black raspberry jam (the highest quality with the least sugar -- once again I used the Mountain Valley Orchard jam.)
1/3 to 1/2 cup heavy cream
optionally: three droppersful of Star Jasmine extract (click here to open a window showing how to make this extract)
enough bittersweet couverture chocolate to use for covering the truffles (about 14 ounces)

Procedure:

Melt the 12 ounces of chocolate.

Mix together the the cream, jam, and jasmine extract and blend thoroughly, then add to the melted chocolate.

Chill for an hour, and then scoop out the truffles onto a cookie sheet covered with wax paper and chill for an hour.

Melt the coverture chocolate in a bowl, and dip each of the truffle centers and return to the waxed paper and chill until hard.

With or without the Jasmine added, these are breathtakingly superb truffles. Wow!



Chocolate Apricot Jam Truffles
   
Wednesday, May 21, 2003

Ingredients:

12 ounces of bittersweet chocolate
7 ounces of apricot jam (the highest quality with the least sugar)
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 teaspoon Vanilla extract
enough bittersweet couverture chocolate to use for covering the truffles (about 14 ounces)

Procedure:

Melt the 12 ounces of chocolate, then stir in the cream, jam, and vanilla to blend thoroughly, (I used a little whisk to make sure the jam was evenly dispersed into the chocolate). Note: since I wrote this, I found that stirring the jam with the cream and the vanilla thoroughly before adding to the chocolate ensures better blending.

Chill for an hour, and then scoop out the truffles onto a cookie sheet covered with wax paper and chill for an hour.

Melt the coverture chocolate in a bowl, and dip each of the truffle centers and return to the waxed paper and chill until hard.

If you like apricots and chocolate, you will love these. :-)



Chocolate Raspberry Jam Truffles
   
May 16, 2003

Ingredients:

9 ounces bittersweet chocolate
3/4 cup seedless raspberry jam (use the highest quality that you can find, with the least sugar in it, I used the locally available Mountain Valley Orchard jam, which is exceptional. You can reach them at mtvalleyorchard@comcast.net or at 1-800-807-7349)
1/3 cup heavy cream
1 teaspoon Vanilla Extract
enough bittersweet couverture chocolate to use for covering the truffles (about 10 ounces)

Procedure:

Melt the chocolate carefully (over a pan of water or in short increments in the microwave), and when fully melted, blend in the cream and jam and vanilla. Note: since I wrote this, I found that stirring the jam with the cream and the vanilla thoroughly before adding to the chocolate ensures better blending.

Chill for an hour, and then scoop out the truffles onto a cookie sheet covered with wax paper and chill overnight.

Melt the coverture chocolate in a bowl, and dip each of the truffle centers and return to the waxed paper and chill until hard.

These are very "summery" truffles with a unique jammy texture to the filling and an excellent berry taste.



Chocolate Coconut Truffles
   
May 2, 2003

Ingredients:

1 cup finely shredded unsweetened coconut (I used organic. If you use sweetened coconut, you'll have to cut out some or all of the maple syrup)
2/3 to 3/4 cup of coconut milk (I used 3/4 cup, which makes a very moist center to the truffle.)
1 1/2 to 2 tablespoons maple syrup (depending upon how sweet you want the center to be.)
1 teaspoon Vanilla extract
2 tablespoons Myers Dark rum
4 ounces of bittersweet chocolate
enough bittersweet couverture chocolate to use for covering the truffles (about 8 ounces)

Procedure:

Mix the coconut, coconut milk, rum, vanilla, and maple syrup and let sit, covered, for an hour at room temperature for the mixture to blend.

Melt the 4 ounces of bittersweet chocolate in a bowl, and then add the coconut mixture and stir thoroughly. Chill for an hour.

Scoop out the truffles onto a cookie sheet covered with wax paper and chill overnight.

Melt the coverture chocolate in a bowl, and dip each of the truffle centers and return to the waxed paper and chill until hard.

These are the ultimate chocolate-coconut dessert! I love them a lot.



Chocolate Macadamia Nut Truffles
   
Ingredients:

4 1/2 ounces pine nuts
2 tablespoons butter
7 ounces macadamia nuts
1 teaspoon Vanilla extract
2 tablespoons Myers Dark rum
6 1/2 ounces of bittersweet chocolate
enough bittersweet couverture chocolate to use for covering the truffles (about 8 ounces)

Procedure:

Puree the pine nuts in a food processor. Add the butter and blend completely. Rinse the macadamia nuts to remove any salt on them, and dry them with a paper towel. Chop the macadamia nuts to the size you want, and then add to the butter/pine nut mixture. Melt the 6 1/2 ounces of chocolate and then blend in the nut mixture, rum, and vanilla. Chill for an hour.

Scoop out the truffle centers onto a cookie sheet covered with wax paper and chill for an hour or two -- until firm.

Melt the coverture chocolate in a bowl, and dip each of the truffle centers and return to the waxed paper and chill until hard.

While these were not my favorite truffles (I'm not crazy about the mixture of chocolate and macadamia nuts), many of my friends really loved them.




Chocolate Hazelnut Truffles
   
These are very excellent truffles, a variation of the "Cindy" truffles below, that I invented on April 11, 2003.

Follow the recipe for Chocolate Buttercream Walnut "Cindy" Truffles but instead of adding walnut pieces after chilling the truffle batter, blend in 1 1/4 cups of ground toasted hazelnuts when you're mixing the batter together (i.e. in step one below).

I prepared the toasted hazelnuts by purchasing organic hazelnuts and toasting them on a cookie sheet for 6 minutes in a 350 degree (preheated) oven. Then I removed the "skins" and ground the hazelnuts in a food processor.

Many people have found these truffles heavenly!




Chocolate Buttercream Walnut "Cindy" Truffles
   
My back had problems the last couple of weeks (today is April 04, 2003), and my Alexander teacher, Cindy, gave me six extra sessions to get me back on track. In appreciation, I developed this Chocolate Buttercream Walnut Truffle recipe for her (and of course gave her many truffles), since she likes walnuts.

Ingredients:

8 ounces of blended bittersweet and semisweet chocolate (not too dark or the chocolate will overshadow the walnuts)
3 tablespoons of butter
1/4 cup of nonfat yoghurt
1 or 2 tablespoons of Myers dark rum
about 15 fine quality walnut halves (I use organic walnuts)
1 teaspoon of vanilla extract

Procedure:

Like in my truffle recipes listed below, there are three steps:

1. Melt the chocolate and butter and blend together. Add the yoghurt and mix thoroughly. Then add the rum and the vanilla extract. Chill for at least two hours to get hard.*

2. Cover a cookie sheet with wax paper, and scoop small balls of the chocolate mixture on to the sheet. Press into each ball a piece of walnut and shape to cover the nut (note, this can get a little messy, and you can't use too much walnut, so I broke the walnut halves in half again or used smaller pieces).

Chill for a couple of hours to get hard.

3. Melt dipping chocolate and dip each ball and then chill again until hard.

These are wonderful truffles, and the nut inside adds both texture and taste.

(Note: I found that I really, really love these truffles, and ate more of them than usual. * Also, one person shared the very good idea of cutting the walnuts into chunks and blending them with the chocolate in the first step instead of adding them to the second step.)


Chocolate Halvah Truffles
   
Since I love halvah, on March 22-23, 2003, I decided to "marry" halvah and chocolate truffles.

Follow the Ultimate & Universal Chocolate Truffle Recipe but for the filling (the flavoring and the chocolate) use:

4 ounces of Joyva halvah crushed into powder and mixed with 1/4 cup of heavy cream, into which is stirred 4 ounces of melted bittersweet chocolate.

Chill the mixture for an hour, make into balls, and chill for at least two hours, and then coat with melted chocolate.

These truffles have both an excellent and unique flavor and a truly incredible texture. Yum!

People who have tasted these truffles have said, "Perfection", "truly wonderful" and many other praises.

Added PostScript (April 07, 2003): I did the recipe again, adding a teaspoon of vanilla and a tablespoon of Myers Dark Rum, and the flavor was even better!



Tiramisu Truffles
   
Once again (on February 13, 2003), I decided to "invent" a new truffle. Since Andronicos® was having a sale on marscapone, I decided to develop a tiramisu truffle. The result is incredibly scrumptious. Enjoy!

Ingredients:

11 ounces of bittersweet chocolate
4 ounces of marscapone
1/2 cup of heavy cream
3 tbsp. brewed (decaf) coffee
9 tbsp. of Marsala wine (choose a good quality one)
1 tsp. vanilla extract

And for the coating, 12 - 16 ounces of bittersweet or semisweet couverture (coating) chocolate.

Procedure:

Use a mixer (or a spoon) to blend the marscapone, coffee, vanilla extract, and Marsala wine together. Then add the heavy cream and stir until homogeneous. Don't over-beat if you're using a mixer (the result is not to be whipped).

Melt the 11 ounces of chocolate and then stir in the marscapone/cream/Marsala mixture until fully mixed.

Chill for a couple of hours. Then scoop out in 1 inch balls. (If the balls are a bit crumbly on the edges, press with your fingers to make them smooth.) Chill the balls for an hour.

Melt the coating chocolate and stir until completely melted. Dip each center (ball) to coat it and place on a tray covered with waxed paper.

Chill until hard (an hour or two).

Wow!



Raspberry Liqueur Truffles, Improved!
   

In my first Raspberry Liqueur Truffle recipe, below, the truffles came out very good but they definitely had a very noticeable amount of alcohol in them. Last night (1/30/03), I decided to try a modification of the recipe, that worked unbelievably great!:

Ingredients:

1/2 cup fine Raspberry Liqueur (the better quality the Raspberry liqueur, the better the truffles will taste. This time, I used the French Liqueur de Framboise by Trimbach, and the flavor was much, much better.)
1/2 cup coconut milk
12 oz. mixed semisweet and bittersweet chocolate

and for the coating:

14 ounces of mixed bittersweet and semisweet chocolates
1 tablespoon butter.

Procedure:

In a bowl, prepare mix the Raspberry liqueur and the coconut milk, and be sure to stir together until blended.

Melt the 12 ounces of chocolate carefully in the microwave. (Stir after one minute and heat in 30 second increments or less, until fully melted.) If quite hot, let it cool a little before proceeding.

Stir the liqueur/coconut mixture into the melted chocolate until thoroughly blended. Then chill this mixture until firm, about an hour.

Scoop out small balls of the chocolate/liqueur mixture and place them on a cookie sheet covered with waxed paper and chill for at least a half hour.

Melt the butter and 14 ounces of chocolate in the microwave, for the coating, and stir until blended. Let the melted chocolate/butter mixture cool a little if quite hot before proceeding.

Place waxed paper on a cookie sheet to place the dipped truffles on. Dip each of the chilled truffle centers, one-at-a-time, in the melted chocolate/butter to coat completely and then place on the waxed paper.

When you are finished, chill the truffles for a couple of hours to harden the coating.

These are amazing, truly amazing truffles.



Coconut Milk Truffles
   

For the flavoring to add to the chocolate: Mix one cup of high quality coconut milk with two tablespoons of maple syrup and one teaspoon of vanilla extract.

Then follow the recipe for the The Ultimate & Universal Chocolate Truffle Recipe

Because the filling is quite soft, be sure to chill it enough both before and after scooping it to make it hard enough to work with. These truffles have a wonderfully creamy texture and a subtle but noticeable coconut taste. Yum!!



Strawberry Truffles
   

For the flavoring to add to the chocolate: Puree/mash with a fork 1 1/2 cups of ripe fresh or frozen strawberries (I used frozen organic strawberries, picking the darkest ones & carefully defrosting them in the microwave.)
Stir in 1/3 cup heavy cream, one teaspoon of vanilla, and 2 tablespoons of maple syrup.

Then follow the recipe for the The Ultimate & Universal Chocolate Truffle Recipe

These make very wonderful truffles. My friends have said, "The best truffles I've ever had", "triple A plus", "Outrageous" and many more praises for these truly incredible truffles.

Important Note: Sometimes, fresh strawberries have much more water in them, so you might have to change the proportions -- even doubling the chocolate -- if the berries are very moist, in order for the truffle center to set.



Raspberry Liqueur Truffles
   

I tried using Raspberry Liqueur instead of Raspberry Juice in truffles and they came out great although they definitely have some alcohol in them. But all my friends loved them too, so here's the recipe:

Ingredients:

1/2 cup fine Raspberry Liqueur (the better quality the Raspberry liqueur, the better the truffles will taste. I used Mathilde Framboise liqueur.)
1/2 cup heavy cream
8 oz. mixed semisweet and bittersweet chocolate

and for the coating:

12 ounces of mixed bittersweet and semisweet chocolates
2 - 3 teaspoons of butter.

Procedure:

In a bowl, prepare mix the Raspberry liqueur and the heavy cream, and be sure to stir together until blended.

Melt the 8 ounces of chocolate carefully in the microwave. (Stir after one minute and heat in 30 second increments or less, until fully melted.) If quite hot, let it cool a little before proceeding.

Stir the cream mixture into the melted chocolate until thoroughly blended. Then chill this mixture until firm, about two hours.

After chilling the mixture for two hours, then remove it from the refrigerator.
Scoop out small balls of the chocolate/cream mixture and place them on a cookie sheet covered with waxed paper and chill for at least a half hour.

Melt the butter and 12 ounces of chocolate in the microwave, for the coating, and stir until blended. Let the melted chocolate/butter mixture cool a little if quite hot before proceeding.

Place waxed paper on a cookie sheet to place the dipped truffles on. Dip each of the chilled truffle centers, one-at-a-time, in the melted chocolate/butter to coat completely and then place on the waxed paper.

When you are finished, chill the truffles for a couple of hours to harden the coating.

Enjoy!



The Ultimate & Universal Chocolate Truffle Recipe

Before you start, you might want to read my new article: Hank's Guide to Making Truffles

Important note: Since I made the Four Star Chocolate Truffles (below) I have continued to learn more about refining the recipe.

My latest insights are:

1. In order to cover the softer truffle centers with melted chocolate without the centers melting during the process, first prepare (scoop out) all of the centers and chill them for at least a half hour on a cookie sheet, before dipping them in the melted chocolate. (My friend Alice saw this being done by Martha Stewart on Food TV network, and told me about it.)

2. Although Oxo makes a 2 teaspoon-size cookie scoop, the tiniest 1.25 teaspoon-size scoop from Sur la Table is much better suited for scooping out the right size truffle centers.

What makes this recipe universal is the ability to vary the flavoring agent(s). Here are a list of possible flavoring agents to use.

A. For delicious Orange-flavored truffles: Mix 1/3 cup heavy cream with 2/3 cup fresh squeezed orange and/or tangerine juices (use the most flavorful fruit you can find) and optionally add four drops of Mandarin Orange oil (available from Lhasa Kharnak

B. For incredible Blood Orange truffles: Mix 1/3 cup heavy cream with 2/3 cup fresh squeezed blood orange juice (use blood oranges with the darkest red skin) and optionally add four drops of Mandarin Orange oil (available from Lhasa Kharnak

C. For stellar Jasmine truffles: Mix thoroughly 3 tablespoons of Vanilla extract, 1 cup of heavy cream, and 3 - 4 dropperfuls of Jasmine extract. For preparation of the Jasmine extract see Jasmine Truffle recipe below.

D: For wonderful Star Anise truffles, follow the Four Star Chocolate Truffle recipe (below). (Note: you can omit the Jasmine Extract from that recipe if you wish to.)

E. For scrumptious Raspberry truffles: Mix 1/3 cup heavy cream with 2/3 cup raspberry juice. I make the raspberry juice by carefully defrosting frozen raspberries in the microwave -- don't let them cook at all -- and then pressing them in a wire strainer (over a bowl) with the back of a metal spoon to extract the juice.

Important note: one of my readers wrote in to say that the mixture of the raspberry juice, cream and chocolate tasted great (and made a wonderful sauce) but never got solid enough to scoop into truffles. Since then, I too have noticed that raspberries -- especially fresh raspberries -- vary greatly in water content, so you might change the amount of chocolate from 8 ounces to 10 or even 12 ounces to ensure a solid enough truffle center.

F: For unusual Spearmint truffles: Mix thoroughly 1 cup heavy cream with 1 - 2 dropperfuls of Spearmint Extract. For the procedure for making the extract go to the Chocolate Spearmint recipe (below).

G: For simple Chocolate truffles: Mix 1 cup of heavy cream with 2 - 3 tablespoons of Vanilla extract.

H. For other kinds of FLAVORS, I suggest using 1- 3 tablespoons of Vanilla, your flavoring, and enough heavy cream to make the total liquid volume one cup. E.g. If you want to make Kalua or other liqueur-based truffles, or Mocha Java coffee truffles, etc. decide upon how much liqueur or coffee to use, and add enough heavy cream to total one cup of liquid. [I will be exploring the proportions to use in future recipes. Stay Tuned!]

Ingredients:

One of the above flavor/cream mixtures.
8 ounces of mixed bittersweet and semisweet chocolates

and for the covering:

12 ounces of mixed bittersweet and semisweet chocolates
2 - 3 teaspoons of butter.

Procedure:

In a bowl, prepare the flavor/cream mixture, and be sure to stir together until blended.

Melt the 8 ounces of chocolate carefully in the microwave. (Stir after one minute and heat in 30 second increments or less, until fully melted.) If quite hot, let it cool a little before proceeding.

Stir the cream mixture into the melted chocolate until thoroughly blended. Then chill this mixture until firm, about two hours.

After chilling the mixture for two hours, then remove it from the refrigerator.
Scoop out small balls of the chocolate/cream mixture and place them on a cookie sheet covered with waxed paper and chill for at least a half hour.

Melt the butter and 12 ounces of chocolate in the microwave, for the coating, and stir until blended. Let the melted chocolate/butter mixture cool a little if quite hot before proceeding.

Place waxed paper on a cookie sheet to place the dipped truffles on. Dip each of the chilled truffle centers, one-at-a-time, in the melted chocolate/butter to coat completely and then place on the waxed paper.

When you are finished, chill the truffles for a couple of hours to harden the coating.

Enjoy!



Four Star Chocolate Truffles

Important note: By making a couple of mistakes, I accidentally stumbled upon several insights about making truffles, and created the best truffles that I ever have.

The insights are:

1. If there is too much chocolate in the truffle center, then whatever flavor is added to the chocolate becomes partially obscured.

2. If the cream is whipped, the texture is lighter, but not optimal. If the cream is not whipped, but also not increased in proportion, the truffle center is too dense.

3. In other words, the ideal truffle center calls for more heavy cream and less chocolate, and is truly superb.

Ingredients:

1 cup whipping cream
8 ounces of mixed bittersweet and semisweet chocolates
3 droppersful of Jasmine extract (see Jasmine Truffle recipe below)
3 dropperfuls of Star Anise extract (see Star Anise Truffle recipe below)
3 tablespoons of Vanilla extract

and for the covering:

12 ounces of mixed bittersweet and semisweet chocolates
1 tablespoon of butter.

Procedure:

In a bowl, mix the whipping cream (not whipped), the Jasmine and Star Anise extracts, and the vanilla extract, and stir together until blended.

Melt the 8 ounces of chocolate carefully in the microwave. (Stir after one minute and heat in 30 second increments or less, until fully melted.) If quite hot, let it cool a little before proceeding.

Stir the cream mixture into the melted chocolate until thoroughly blended. Then chill this mixture until firm, about two hours.

After chilling the mixture for two hours, then remove it from the refrigerator. Melt the butter and 12 ounces of chocolate in the microwave, for the coating, and stir until blended. Let the melted chocolate/butter mixture cool a little if quite hot before proceeding.

Place waxed paper on a cookie sheet to place the truffles on. Scoop out small balls of the chocolate/cream mixture, then dip them one-at-a-time in the melted chocolate/butter to coat completely and then place on the waxed paper.

When you are finished, chill the truffles for a couple of hours to harden the coating.

Several people that I served these to said that they were the best chocolate they had ever had.



Chocolate Lavender Truffles

Sunday, October 27, 2002

Ingredients:

12 fresh Lavender flower heads
10 ounces of high-quality bittersweet and semisweet chocolates.
1/3 to 1/2 cup of whipping cream. (more makes the center softer))
2 tablespoons butter.
waxed paper

Procedure:

Part One:

Break about 12 flower heads off of your Lavender bush. They should be at least partially in bloom. Add to the whipping cream in a microwave-safe glass bowl. Heat up the whipping cream/flower heads in a microwave carefully (10 -20 seconds at a time) until just beginning to show a little steam (or hot to the touch). Remove from the microwave, stir and crush the flower heads a little, and then let sit for a few minutes. Repeat the heating and stirring procedure two more times. If you taste the cream, you'll be able to taste the lavender in it by the time you're done.

Heat only 5 ounces (not all) of the chocolate carefully in the microwave for a minute, stir, and heat again in 20 - 30 second increments and stir until melted. Pour the whipping cream/lavender mixture through a wire strainer (to catch the flowers) into the melted chocolate.

Chill for an hour or so, until somewhat firm but not hard. Then proceed to Part Two.

Part Two.

Melt the remaining chocolate with the butter for a minute, stir, and heat again in 20 - 30 second increments and stir until melted and blended.

Make balls of the lavender-flavored chocolate and dip them into the melted chocolate to coat them, and then place them on a cookie sheet covered with waxed paper. Chill for at least two hours.

These are much denser than truffles made where the whipping cream is whipped, but they are excellent nevertheless.

Enjoy.

[Note: I purchased an excellent very small -- 1.25 inch -- scoop from Sur La Table for $24.95 -- don't get the cheaper $12.95 scoops because they fall apart too quickly -- and used it to scoop truffles of the optimal size. It makes the work go much quicker.]



Chocolate Star Anise Truffles


Saturday, October 12, 2002

You can get Star Anise Oil from Lhasa Kharnak.

The procedure for these truffles is just a little different from the Jasmine Truffle recipe, is as follows:

Making the Star Anise Oil extract. Take pure food-grade Star Anise Oil, and add 12 small drops to a one ounce dropper bottle filled with vodka or grain alcohol, I used Everclear. Shake well to mix thoroughly.

Ingredients:

Star Anise Extract, prepared as indicated in the last paragraph above.
10 ounces of high-quality bittersweet and semisweet chocolates.
1 cup of whipping cream.
2 Tbsp. maple syrup
1/4 cup high-quality cocoa.

Procedure:

Mix the whipping cream with the maple syrup and 2 - 3 dropperfuls of Star Anise Extract (taste to be sure you can taste the Star Anise enough, it's a subtle flavor) and whip until the whipped cream is firm.

Melt chocolate in microwave (about one to two minutes, but stir after one minute), and then stir until completely smooth, let cool for a few minutes, and then blend into the whipped cream completely.

Chill at least two hours in your refrigerator.

Place cocoa into a small bowl. Scoop out small portions of the chocolate-whipped cream mixture and shape into small balls (about 3/4 of an inch to 1 inch in diameter) and roll into the cocoa to coat them completely.

[Note: I purchased an excellent very small -- one inch -- scoop from Sur La Table for $24.95 -- don't get the cheaper $12.95 scoops because they fall apart too quickly -- and used it to scoop truffles of the optimal size. It makes the work go much quicker.] Store in the refrigerator but let them get to room temperature before serving (for maximum flavor).

They are subtly flavored but very fine.



Chocolate Spearmint Truffles


Saturday, October 05, 2002

Recently, I tried Michael Recchiuti's amazing truffles. He makes some of the finest and most unusual chocolate truffles in the World, including lavender, tarragon and grapefruit, lemon verbena, and star anise. (If you want to buy a smaller box, get the green one.)

His originality inspired me to try my own hand at unusual tasting truffles. Since my great success with the Chocolate Jasmine Truffles, I decided to start getting other herbal and floral oils and see if they worked as well.

My first try, today, was using Spearmint Oil, also from Lhasa Kharnak.

The procedure, just a little different from the Jasmine Truffle recipe, is as follows:

Making the Spearmint Oil extract. Take pure food-grade Spearmint Oil, and add 3 -4 small drops to a one ounce dropper bottle filled with vodka or grain alcohol, I used Everclear. Shake well to mix thoroughly.

Ingredients:

Spearmint Extract, prepared as indicated in the last paragraph above.
10 ounces of high-quality bittersweet and semisweet chocolates.
1 cup of whipping cream.
2 Tbsp. maple syrup
1/4 cup high-quality cocoa.

Procedure:

Mix the whipping cream with the maple syrup and 1 - 2 dropperfuls of Spearmint Extract (one will be more subtle, two more pronounced in flavor), and whip until the whipped cream is firm.

Important note: I would recommend using 1 dropperful if you're going to each the truffles the same day, or 2 droppersful if you are going to eat them in following days. The reason is that after a day, the flavor becomes much more subtle.

[Note: If you omit whipping the cream mixture, you get balls of flavored chocolate instead of Spearmint or Jasmine truffles, but I prefer the whipped texture. If you choose not to whip, however, you should only chill the final mixture for about an hour or less, or it gets too hard to scoop and shape into truffles.]

Melt chocolate in microwave (about one to two minutes, but stir after one minute), and then stir until completely smooth, let cool for a few minutes, and then blend into the whipped cream completely.

Chill at least two hours in your refrigerator.

Place cocoa into a small bowl. Scoop out small portions of the chocolate-whipped cream mixture and shape into small balls (about 3/4 of an inch to 1 inch in diameter) and roll into the cocoa to coat them completely.

[Note: I purchased an excellent very small -- one inch -- scoop from Sur La Table for $24.95 -- don't get the cheaper $12.95 scoops because they fall apart too quickly -- and used it to scoop truffles of the optimal size. It makes the work go much quicker.] Store in the refrigerator but let them get to room temperature before serving (for maximum flavor).

They are very good.



Chocolate Shortbread


The Recipe:

Ingredients:

1 1/2 sticks of butter
4 1/4 ounces of bittersweet chocolate
1/4 cup maple syrup
1 tsp. Vanilla extract
(optional: 2 Tbsp. Raspberry Liqueur)
1 1/2 cups pastry flour (note: I used organic whole-wheat pastry flour)

Procedure:

Preheat oven to 250 degrees (yes, a very slow oven is used).

Melt butter and chocolate in a microwave (1 1/2 - 2 minutes) and remove and stir until completely melted.

Add the maple syrup, vanilla, and (optional) liqueur and stir until blended.

Gradually stir in the flour until completely mixed.

Then place batter in brownie tin or pie pan and smooth to equal height, and bake for about 40 minutes until firm (toothpick comes out clean).

Let cool first on wire rack and then covered in refrigerator for an hour before cutting.

This is a very delicious dessert and goes incredibly well side-by-side with fresh strawberries.



Chocolate-Covered Fruit, Revisited


If you will look four recipes down, you will see my recipe and method of dipping fruit in chocolate.

I recently made two batches of chocolate-covered fruit and made some important discoveries:

1. When I used semi-sweet and bittersweet chocolate, the coating was hard, dense, and overshadowed the fruit within.

2. Because my wonderful mother likes milk chocolate, I decided to melt top-quality organic milk chocolate as a coating. Did you know that the legal requirements for milk chocolate is that it has to have 10% chocolate? That's why grocery store chocolate bars taste so artificial, they're almost 90% additives!

3. I decided to coat both pitted cherries (with the stems on, see the recipe below) and blueberries with the milk chocolate. Because of the inherent smoothness, you can just melt milk chocolate in the microwave without adding any oil and coat the fruit immediately. But you do need to chill the coated fruit (on waxed paper) for at least a couple of hours to harden the coating.

4. I also made a blend of 50% milk chocolate and 50% bittersweet chocolate and coated some fruit with this blend (again, no oil needed) and it created a wonderful tasting fruit!

5. The blueberries were a bigger hit than the cherries! Just use a spoon, drop one berry at a time in the melted chocolate and scoop out and drop onto the waxed paper. Enjoy your summer!



Chocolate Jasmine Truffles


Special Note: My story of finding food-grade Jasmine Absolute for cooking:

"There's no place like home" proved to be true in an interesting way last week. For years, I've loved the fragrance of Star Jasmine, and wanted to find a way to incorporate its taste in my dessert making.

Then, last year, Michel Cluizel came out with his jasmine tea flavored chocolate truffles, and I fell in love with them. Unfortunately, they were quickly withdrawn from the market, leaving me to find a way to invent my own.

First, I purchased Jasmine Pearl Tea -- the best of the jasmine teas. I tried extracting the jasmine flavor out of the tea, with small amounts of vodka or hot water, with limited success.

Then I thought, there must be a source for food-grade jasmine extract on the Internet. I searched and searched, only to find that most perfumers and extractors used hexane for their extraction, which is not safe for ingestion. Finally, after almost giving up my search, I stumbled upon the right source: my local herb store!

Lhasa Kharnak has been around for a very long time, and I've been using their top quality herbs for cooking and medicinal purposes for over 25 years! What a surprise to realize that they also are the only source for food grade star jasmine (pikake) absolute. (Look in their Oils section.)

You can purchase a 5 milliter bottle from them for $65, or a 10 milliter bottle of the extended oil (a 1 to 6 dilution in Johoba oil) for $18.00. If you purchase the pure absolute, then place three small drops of it in a one ounce dropper bottle filled with vodka (or grain alcohol, I used Everclear) to make the jasmine extract. (Note: the drops that come out of the absolute bottle are much smaller than normal drops. I am referring to these tiny drops.) If you're using the extended oil, put 18 drops of the extension into the one ounce dropper bottle filled with vodka (or grain alcohol) instead. Shake well to make sure the absolute completely disperses in the alcohol.

The Recipe:

Ingredients:

Star Jasmine extract, prepared as indicated in the last paragraph above.
10 ounces of high-quality bittersweet and semisweet chocolates.
1 cup of whipping cream.
2 Tbsp. maple syrup
1/4 cup high-quality cocoa.

Procedure:

Important Note: the amount of jasmine extract you add to the recipe depends upon when you are going to serve the truffles. If you are going to serve them within 48 hours, 2 dropperfuls (not 2 drops) is sufficient. If you want to serve them 3 or 4 days after making them, then 3 dropperfuls would be better to use (but they might taste too strongly of jasmine the first and second days).

Mix the whipping cream with the maple syrup and 2 or 3 dropperfuls of Jasmine Extract (see note above), and whip until the whipped cream is firm.

Melt chocolate in microwave (about two minutes, but stir after one minute), and then stir until completely smooth, let cool for a few minutes, and then blend into the whipped cream completely.

Chill at least two hours in your refrigerator.

Place cocoa into a small bowl. Scoop out small portions of the chocolate-whipped cream mixture and hand shape into small balls (about 3/4 of an inch to 1 inch in diameter) and roll into the cocoa to coat them completely.

Store in the refrigerator but let them get to room temperature before serving (for maximum flavor).

They are really exquisite!

Postscript:

After storing several truffles in the freezer for a couple of weeks (those made with two dropperfuls of extract), I found that the ones that were about one inch in diameter still had a fine jasmine taste, while the smaller ones had lost their jasmine flavor. So I recommend making the truffles one inch in diameter or a little larger.

I shared some of these truffles with Barry, the owner of the fine chocolate store Primo Chocolates, on 4th Street in Berkeley, CA, and he said that "I had a perfect balance of chocolate and jasmine flavor."

p.s.s. Freezing the jasmine truffles in a freezer (in a freezer zip-lok plastic bag) is an excellent way to store them, and even right out of the bag (frozen) they taste great!



Chocolate Halvah
January 17, 2003

Yes, I'll admit it. I'm on a roll... inventing new chocolate recipes weekly right now.

Because I love chocolate and sesame, and particularly love the taste and texture of halvah, I wanted to see if I could reproduce what you buy in the store.

After searching the 'Net for recipes, I realized that I'd have to come up with my own. It has been very well received. Note: while the bars may look like brownies, they are quite a bit denser and should be nibbled on and not thrown into the mouth whole. :-)

Ingredients:

1 cup sesame butter (I avoided using the sesame oil at the top of the jar.)
3/4 cup cocoa
1 teaspoon Vanilla extract
1 cup cake flour
3/4 Maple butter

Prepare the Maple butter by boiling 2/3 cup of maple syrup for 9 minutes to reduce the volume, let it cool a little, and then add 1/2 cup butter, stirring well, and cooling.

Add 3/4 cup of the maple butter to the sesame butter, add the vanilla and stir thoroughly. Stir in the cocoa thoroughly. Then stir in the cake flour thoroughly. Let sit for an hour.

Bake at 325 degrees for 10 minutes. Cool. Then cut into 2" squares, and cover to store.

This a delicious and filling dessert.



Hank's Cherry Chocolate Brownies


I just made these and boy are they yummy!

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Ingredients:

8 large eggs, separated
1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
14 ounces bittersweet chocolate
12 ounces butter (a stick and a half)
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

4 - 6 teaspoons (or more) Myers Dark Rum (optional)
2 cups pitted fresh dark cherries
1/2 cup maple syrup
5/8 cup cake flour (a little over 1/2 cup)

Procedure:

Prepare a 10 1/2" x 15" baking pan (or two 8 x 8 brownie tins) by lining the bottom with waxed paper.

Pit the cherries (I got a great stainless steel cherry pitter at Sur La Table).

Melt the chocolate and the butter (cut into 2" pieces) in a microwave for 2 minutes and stir until blended. Let cool a little, while you stir the egg yolks with the maple syrup in a large bowl (everything will end up in it). Add the rum and vanilla to the yolk/syrup mixture and stir. Stir in the cherries, and then the chocolate/butter to the yolk/syrup mixture. Next blend the flour into this chocolate mix in a few portions, stirring until fully blended.

In a separate bowl, add the cream of tartar to the egg whites and beat until softly stiff. Fold 1/4 of the egg whites into the chocolate mix until blended, and then fold in the rest of the egg whites until mixed.

Pour the mixture into the pan(s) and spread to an even thickness.

Bake for 25 - 30 minutes (test with a toothpick to see if its done).

Let cool down, or chill, before cutting individual brownies. Enjoy!



Hank's Chocolate Almond Cookies -- Perfected!!


Once again, I've made a breakthrough in my Chocolate Almond Cookie recipe. As my readers know, the cookies were always crumbly, and just didn't have the texture that I wanted. This time around, I added eggs, and the whole recipe came together completely.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Ingredients:

4 eggs
1 1/2 cups almond butter (one 12 oz. jar of creamy almond butter)
13 to 15 oz. mixed bittersweet and semisweet chocolate
2/3 cup maple syrup (or more if you want sweeter cookies)
2 1/2 cups cake flour
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 stick butter
2-4 tablespoons Myers dark rum

Procedure:

Melt the chocolate and the butter (together) in a microwave for 2 minutes, and stir until completely blended and then stir in the maple syrup. In a larger bowl, blend (with a beater) the eggs, the almond butter, the vanilla, and rum until thoroughly mixed. Add to this the melted chocolate/butter/maple syrup mixture. Finally, add the cake flour, in a few portions, stirring until blended.

Place large portions (about 1 1/2 heaping tablespoons per cookie) on unoiled cookie sheets and bake for 12 to 14 minutes or so. I used a 2 tablespoon scoop that worked great to place semispheres of the batter on the cookie sheet.

Enjoy.



Chocolate covered Cherries and Strawberries

Ingredients:

3 dozen of the best quality bing cherries with stems on OR a large box of perfectly ripe strawberries
1 tablespoon of a neutral tasting vegetable oil (e.g. corn or canola)
6 ounces of bittersweet or semisweet chocolate
Procedure:

Use a cherry pitter to pit the cherries while leaving the stem on. Here's how: press the pitting device against the side of the cherry until it meets the seed, and then press more quickly to expel the seed. OR if you're using strawberries, take the tops (the greens) off of all of the strawberries before proceeding.

Melt the chocolate in a small glass bowl in the microwave for 1 1/2 to 2 minutes to melt completely (note: with some chocolates, it's better to heat it partially, stir, and then heat the rest of the way, to avoid burning the chocolate).

Stir in the vegetable oil completely.

Then dip the fruit, one at a time, in the melted chocolate-oil mixture, and place on a waxed-paper covered plate or tray. Refrigerate for at least one hour to harden the coating on the fruit.

Enjoy this wonderful summertime desert either alone or better yet with maple syrup sweetened whipped cream.



An Incredible Chocolate Sandwich #2:
A Slightly Sour but Sweet Experience

Ingredients:

one 8 ounce tub of Kefir Cheese
8 - 10 ounces mixed bittersweet cooking chocolate
2-4 tablespoons of maple syrup (optional)
one six ounce basket of fresh raspberries
Top Quality Raisin Bread (Orowheat is great)

Procedure:

Melt the chocolate for 2-3 minutes in a microwave bowl, stir until fully melted and then stir in the kefir cheese. Puree the basket of raspberries by placing them in a metal strainer and then pressing them with the back of a metal ladle or large spoon, to separate the seeds out, collecting the liquid in a bowl. Pour the raspberry puree into the chocolate/cheese mixture and add maple syrup if you think it needs sweetening. Chill for a couple of hours to meld.

Toast raisin bread slices and spread one side with this lovely creation.

Enjoy! (it's wonderful)



Aderan's First Recipe: Chocolate Raspberry Fudge


I was doing a trade with my master dowser friend Charlyn, and, at the end of the session, realized that I wanted to eat some chocolate. She asked me to tune in to the Guides to see what was really going on, and my main Guide Aderan proceeded to give me the following recipe! We were delighted with the results.

Ingredients:

6 oz. mixed varieties of bittersweet chocolate
3 Tablespoons of maple syrup
4 ounces of frozen raspberries

Procedure:

in a small pan or porcelain dessert plate (with a lip or rim), place the frozen raspberries and maple syrup and use a metal spatula or knife to chop up the berries a bit. Melt the chocolate in a microwave for about 2 minutes. Pour melted chocolate over the berry/syrup mixture and stir immediately (as it will become unworkable-thick pretty fast). Chill for a couple of hours.

Enjoy.



Hank's Chocolate Almond Marscapone Cookies


I've just made a major breakthrough in my Chocolate Almond Cookie recipe. The cookies were always crumbly, and just didn't have the texture or "gestalt" that I wanted. Even tho' they tasted great, something was missing. I recently made some Tiramousse (see recipe below) and had marscapone cheese left over. I decided to modify my Chocolate Almond Cookie recipe and added the marscapone (and changed some of the other measurements and cooking time), and the new cookies are sensational in both taste and texture. Hooray!!!

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Ingredients:

1 8 oz. package of marscapone cheese (if you must, you can substitute 8 oz. of high quality cream cheese.)
1 1/2 cups almond butter (one 12 oz. jar of creamy almond butter)
11 to 15 oz. mixed bittersweet and semisweet chocolate
2/3 cup maple syrup (or more if you want sweeter cookies)
2 1/2 cups cake flour
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 stick butter
2-4 tablespoons Myers dark rum

Procedure:

Melt the chocolate and the butter (together) in a microwave for 2 minutes, and stir until completely blended and then stir in the maple syrup. In a larger bowl, blend (with a beater) the marscapone cheese, the almond butter, the vanilla, and rum until thoroughly mixed. Add to this the melted chocolate/butter/maple syrup mixture. Finally, add the cake flour, in a few portions, stirring until blended.

Place large portions (about 1 1/2 heaping tablespoons per cookie) on unoiled cookie sheets and bake for 14 to 15 minutes or so.

Enjoy.



Hank's Chocolate Almond Butter Cookies -- Revisited


Quite a while ago, I shared a recipe (listed at the end of the recipes below) for "Incredible Chocolate Almond Cookies". Since then, I was preparing these cookies for a friend's antique store opening, and his wife tasted the first batch and suggested I add more chocolate. The improvement was very noticeable. Both recipes make great cookies, but this new one makes really chocolatey ones.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Ingredients:

1 1/2 cups almond butter
11 oz. mixed bittersweet and semisweet chocolate
1/2 cup maple syrup
2 1/2 cups cake flour
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup butter (two sticks)
(optional: 2-4 tablespoons Myers dark rum)

Procedure:

Melt the chocolate and the butter (together) in a microwave for 2 minutes, and stir until completely blended. Stir in the maple syrup, and then the almond butter and the vanilla (and rum) until blended. Add the cake flour, in a few portions, stirring until blended.

Place large portions (about 1 1/2 heaping tablespoons per cookie) on unoiled cookie sheets and bake for 11 minutes or so.

These are great cookies, but a bit crumbly, so allow to cool fully before transferring, and enjoy.



Hank's Chocolate Cream Fruit Pie


Ingredients:

2 Oreo© cookie pie crusts
8 ounces of mixed bittersweet chocolates
3 cups of whipping cream
one basket each of strawberries and boysenberries cleaned and washed (of course, feel free to substitute blueberries, blackberries, etc.)
about three dozen dark bing cherries (washed and pitted)

Procedure:

Remove the covers from the pie crusts, and take off their labels and glue so that you can use them -- inverted -- to cover the completed pies.

Mix the fruit together and fill the two crusts equally.

Melt the chocolate (about 2 minutes in the microwave) and stir until smooth. Whip the cream and then gradually blend into the melted chocolate. Place this chocolate whipped cream equally over both pies, cover and chill for at least six hours.

Enjoy this wonderful new dessert.



Brownies really worth eating


Ingredients:

1 stick of butter
6 ounces high-quality bittersweet chocolate
3/4 cup of top quality semi- or bitter-sweet chocolate chips
1/3 cup maple syrup
1/2 cup almond butter
2 teaspoons vanilla
4 eggs
2/3 cup flour (I use organic whole wheat pastry flour)
12" x 8" microwave safe baking dish lined with wax paper

Procedure:

Melt butter and both kinds of chocolate together for 2 minutes in microwave, stir, and if needed melt for 30 seconds more and stir until smooth. Stir in almond butter until blended, then maple syrup and vanilla extract, then eggs until fully blended. Finally stir in the flour completely. Pour into baking dish and bake in microwave for 5 minutes. Chill on wire rack for 10 minutes and then in refrigerator for a couple of hours at least. Yum!



Chocolate Frousse


This has got to be the healthiest really tasty chocolate dessert in the world. Note: it has no added sugar, nor any fat other than what's in the chocolate.

Ingredients:

5-6 very ripe bananas (skin beginning to turn black)
1 cup of frozen red raspberries
4 ounces of fine quality semi-sweet chocolate
Procedure:
Mash bananas fully, and heat until boiling in saucepan. Add raspberries, and
heat, stirring until well blended. Add chocolate and stir until blended. Cool on
countertop, and then chill thoroughly in fridge. Yum!



Chocolate Ecstacy Mousse


Melt in microwave for 1 minute, stir, and melt for another minute or more:

8-10 oz. mixed bittersweet and semisweet baking chocolates
1/4 cup of cocoa
2-4 tbsp. of Myers Rum

Stir in 1/4 cup nonfat yoghurt and 1/4 cup of fresh squeezed orange juice.
Beat with electric beaters until very smooth.
Chill for at least three hours.



White and Dark Chocolate Mousse Pie Ecstacy


Ingredients:

8 oz. Fine quality White Chocolate
5-8 oz. fine Semi-sweet or Bittersweet Chocolate (best if you mix several kinds)
2 pints of whipping cream
2 rounded tablespoons of plain yoghurt
¬ cup of Myers Dark Rum (the only kind good for cooking)
vanilla extract
2 "cookie style" store-bought pie crusts, (I've cooked with graham cracker, Oreo, chocolate, and shortbread crusts, and the Oreo is far superior to the rest, followed by the shortbread). Tip: save the plastic lid that comes with each pie, remove the label, invert, and use to cover each of the pies before chilling
them.

Procedure:

The goal is to create two identical pies (one for eating now, one for sharing
later). Each pie has a dark chocolate mousse layer topped by a white
chocolate mousse layer. They are best if prepared ahead of time and chilled
for about 2-4 hours.

The dark layer:

Whip one of the pints of whipping cream until whipped. Melt the 5-8 ounces
of semi-sweet chocolate in a microwave-safe bowl with half (1/8 cup) of the
rum for 1 to 2 minutes and stir until smooth. Add the yoghurt, and stir until
smooth. Then blend into the whipped cream the dark chocolate mixture with a
whisk until homogenous. Place « of the mixture into each of the pie crusts.

The light layer:

Whip one of the pints of whipping cream until whipped. Melt the 8 ounces of
white chocolate in a microwave-safe bowl with the rest of the rum (1/8 cup)
plus 2 teaspoons Vanilla extract for about 1« minutes, and stir until smooth.
Blend this white chocolate mixture into the whipped cream with a whisk. Pour
-- gently -- into the pie crusts, over the dark chocolate mousse. The pies
should be generously filled to almost overflowing by the time you're done.

Chill.

Hank's wonderful variation: Instead of using two kinds of chocolate, skip the
white chocolate step, double the amounts in the dark chocolate part (being
sure you use at least 1 pound of dark chocolate per quart of whipped cream
or even more), and enjoy a superb dark chocolate mousse pie.



An Incredible Chocolate Sandwich


Ingredients:

Nut Butter (My favorite is a half-and-half mixture of Cashew and Almond Butters)
12 ounces mixed bittersweet cooking chocolate
one half cup heavy cream
juice of two oranges
Top Quality Raisin Bread (Orowheat is great)

Procedure:

Make a batch of Chocolate Mousse Spread by melting the chocolate for 2-3 minutes in a microwave bowl, stir until fully melted and then add the heavy cream and stir, and then add the orange juice and stir until fully blended, and chill until cooled.

Toast at least two slices of raisin bread and then spread one side with the nut butter and the other with the Chocolate Mousse Spread.

Enjoy! (it's quite luscious)



Tiramousse -- A truly incredible chocolate mousse New!!


Ingredients:

8 oz. of marscapone cheese
1/2 pint of heavy whipping cream
4 - 5 tablespoons freshly brewed strong coffee (high quality columbian or arabica)
5 tablespoons marsala wine
5 - 7 oz. of bittersweet chocolate (mix several types for best flavor)

Procedure:

Whip the whipping cream in a bowl
in a second bowl, whip the marscapone cheese with the coffee and the marsala wine and then stir into the whipped cream until blended

melt the chocolate for about 2 minutes in a microwave bowl until fully melted, and then let cool a little and then stir into the cream/cheese mixture.

chill a couple of hours Yum!!!



Super-Fudge Cookies -- The greatest rich chocolate cookies New!!

Ingredients:

15 ounces of bittersweet chocolate (mixed varieties if possible)
2 ounces of unsweetened chocolate
2 tablespoons of butter
1/3 cup of maple syrup
1 egg
2 teaspoons high-quality vanilla extract
2/3 cup of cake flour
1/2 teaspoon of baking powder
1 cup pecans
2 to 3 tablespoons of Myers Rum (optional)

Procedure

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Melt both types of chocolate and the butter in a microwave for 1 1/2 to 2 minutes (or double boiler) until melted when stirred together. Stir and blend in the maple syrup, egg, vanilla, and (optional) rum. Finely chop the pecans in a food processor and add to the chocolate mixture.

Mix the cake flour and baking powder together, then add to the chocolate mixture, and stir until fully blended. Grease (with butter) a couple of cookie sheets, and use a tablespoon to drop portions of the batter on each sheet, at least an inch apart.

Bake for 10 minutes. Cool on wire rack for at least 10 - 15 minutes (otherwise the cookies are too crumbly).

Enjoy!



Recipes beyond Measure

Learning to work with your own sense of Proportion


When I first started cooking, I followed recipes religiously for fear of ruining them. After a short time, I began to see how I could improve upon them, and made changes. It took many years to completely abandon recipes and "play it by ear", but the result was an incredible burst of creativity and very few failures.

The following are recipes with either no measuring details or vague ones, because each time I prepare the recipes listed below, I improvise and don't measure at all. And they always turn out delicious. Feel free to taste what you're doing along the way, to balance the ingredients to your liking. Bon Appetit!

Unmeasured Recipe #1: Wonderful (Wonderful!) Hot Fudge Sauce

Melt between four and eight ounces of bittersweet chocolate (depending upon how much sauce you want) and stir in a two or more tablespoons of butter for texture. Thin this mixture by adding 1/4 to 1 cup of non-fat plain yoghurt -- to taste -- until the mixture is smooth and has lightened some in color. (If you want to make this sauce really special, add the fresh juice of one blood orange!) Pour over vanilla ice cream and enjoy!

Unmeasured Recipe #2: A unique chocolate candy: Rum Chestnut/Plum butter truffle

Create the chestnut filling by blending in a food processor with the metal blade:

One can of either cooked chestnuts or chestnut puree (available at gourmet stores, buy the one with the least sugar or sweetener in it) with enough heavy cream to thin it (I used one 15.5 oz. can of Clement Faugier Chestnut Puree and about one cup of heavy cream).

Add Myer's Rum to taste (I used about 4 tablespoons) and maple syrup to sweeten (I used about 1/3 of a cup).

Create coating chocolate by melting six to eight ounces of chocolate (or even more if you're making a lot of truffles) and then blend in a few tablespoons of a mild tasting cooking oil (e.g. corn or canola) to thin it a little. Then place wax paper on several cookie sheets or plates, and create bottoms for each candy by using a tablespoon to shape circles of chocolate about 2" in diameter. Chill each plate/sheet in the refrigerator until the chocolate circles are solid.

Using a tablespoon or large melon ball scoop, place a portion of the chestnut mixture on each chocolate bottom -- you may have to use your fingers -- followed by a smaller dollop of either plum butter or perhaps raspberry jam (but use only about 1/5 as much fruit topping as chestnut).

Then create the outer chocolate covering for each candy by using a tablespoon to pour the melted coating chocolate in a circular motion over the chestnut-fruit, until none of the chestnut-fruit is showing. After finishing each sheet/plate, chill until the chocolate is hard (and keep refrigerated until a little while before serving).

Note: You may have to reheat the chocolate coating mixture to keep it thin enough to flow easily, and/or add more oil and chocolate as it gets depleted.

When I did this recipe, I ended up with about 40 scrumptious candies, used at least 1/2 pound of chocolate, and worked for well over an hour. As always, blend different types of bittersweet chocolate for the best result.

Enjoy.



Incredible Chocolate Almond Cookies

Ingredients:

1 cup butter (two sticks)
2 1/2 cups cake flour
6 oz. bittersweet and semisweet chocolates (using several types is best)
1 oz. unsweetened chocolate
3 tablespoons Myers Rum
1/4 cup Maple Syrup
1 cup almond butter (or if you can't get almond butter: 1 1/2 cups almonds ground with 1 tbsp. brown sugar)

Procedure:

Preheat oven to 350.

Place the almond butter and maple syrup in a food processor and blend them. Add the rum and blend again. Melt the butter and all of the chocolate in a microwave (one-and-a-half minutes on high, stir, and then one minute more) and stir until completely blended. Add the almond/syrup mixture to the melted chocolate/butter and mix together thoroughly. Stir in the cake flour in 4 portions (1/4 of the flour at a time). Then use a tablespoon to scoop up the batter and place portions on an ungreased cookie sheet. After filling a cookie sheet with cookies about an inch or two apart, bake for 10 minutes and let cool pretty thoroughly before removing. Store covered (or even refrigerated -- but let warm up before eating). Both the texture and the taste of these cookies are exceptional.

Note: If you use ground almonds instead of almond butter, the texture is not quite as good. Make sure you grind the almonds finely. And instead of adding the syrup to the ground almonds, just blend everything directly into the bowl of melted chocolate/butter.



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