Last week I had the pleasure of taking a truffle and bon bon making course in Toronto with Marissa Scibetta at Bonnie Gordon College of Confectionary Arts. For two glorious evenings I was the proverbial kid in the candy shop, weighing, heating, mixing, spooning and dipping chocolate ganache. My only complaint is I am no longer happy with store bought chocolates that don’t snap when I bite into them. Plus, I now want a fancy electronic scale that can tell the difference between 176 grams of something decadent and 175 grams.
If the name Bonnie Gordon looks familiar, this is where I went last year when Master Chocolatier Derrick Tu Tan Pho nearly gave me a heart attack by putting metal in the microwave.* Amongst other skills, he showed us how to temper chocolate in the microwave, which has proved a handy trick more than once.
For this class, Marissa was the instructor. She’s a Red Seal chef and knows her stuff. One of the best tricks she taught us was how to “table” or “marble” chocolate ganache so you can get to the truffle making without leaving the ganache to rest overnight.** The technique requires a marble or granite surface, which cools the ganache at a controlled rate without damaging it by extreme temperature fluctuations. (In the past, I admit to shoving my ganache in the freezer so it would “hurry up and set”. Big mistake.) Not only does tabling safely speed up the setting process, it improves the taste and texture of the ganache. We compared tabled ganache with a room temperature batch which hadn’t set long enough to pipe. The flavours in the tabled ganache were deeper and fuller, and the mixture was creamier.
Professional bakers like Marissa will have a marble pastry slab handy for such occasions. If you don’t but are lucky enough to have granite countertops, you’re ready to go. Just clean the surface with vodka, get yourself a couple of meticilously clean drywall scrapers and dump your chocolate ganache on the cool stone surface.
Spread the ganache thinly over the marble or granite.
Scrape the ganache to one side. Repeat the spreading and scraping process until your ganache is the consistency to pipe. You’ll see streaking as it reaches this stage. If you table the ganache for too long, it will become too firm to pipe.
If you’re piping the truffles, use a disposable piping bag with a large tip. Marissa says it may sound wasteful but you will never get a cloth pastry bag clean.
Pipe your ganache onto a pan lined with parchment. Let it set just a bit so you can roll it gently. You don’t want it to set too firmly or you won’t be able to roll out the pointed tip.
Don’t have a piping bag? Spoon the ganache.
Regardless of which method you used, when the ganache is set, roll it using your finger tips, not your palm since the warmth of your hand will make the truffle melt. Don’t worry about making perfectly round truffles. Marissa assures me knobby ones are “rustic” and a sign they are homemade. Anything you say, Marissa. Wonky is my specialty.
While the truffle surface is still slightly rough from your finger tips, roll the truffle in dark cocoa. Just drop it on a rimmed pan and shake it about.
To be more efficient do several at a time. And in minutes you’ll have a batch coated and ready for their closeups.
And that’s just one of the tricks I learned at my class. Stay tuned over the next little while to learn how to candy nuts and “bottom” square chocolates.
*Yes, you can put a metal bowl in the microwave, as long as it is stainless steel and does not touch the sides. I finally worked up the nerve to try this a few months ago, and can report that it works.
**If you don’t have a granite or marble surface you can let the ganache set using old-fashioned time. The results will be wonderful.Google+