Recipe: pistachio surprise truffles
Someday, I will catch up on sleep. Jeremy and I have both had several nights in a row of staying up late to work and getting up early to work (or ski). Of course, we both recognize the importance of getting enough sleep, so one night we made a concerted effort to get to bed before midnight in the hopes we’d be able to sleep in until 7 am. Except we have been experimenting with Neva’s sleeping arrangements where we leave her crate door open overnight and have a regular doggy bed in another corner of the bedroom. Neva had other ideas, as Neva usually does. She decided to leap up onto the bed at 2 am – scaring the hell out of both of us since she doesn’t really worry about where she’s landing. After gradually pushing us to our respective edges of the bed, Jeremy put her back in jail (her crate) and shut the door. By 5:30 am she was rattling the door, clamoring to be let out. Puppy training has morphed into a quasi roommate training.
inner peace… inner peace… inner peace…
Back in December, I discovered some frozen homemade pistachio paste while counting my bags of huckleberries in the chest freezer (I do this periodically – it makes me feel better). Pistachio paste is like almond paste, but made with… pistachios. And it’s green. I kinda love the stuff. Since it was the holidays, I took the pistachio paste out to make some truffles to give to friends. I’m not much of a truffle person because of all that chocolate, but I’ll make an exception for these.
pistachios, cream, chocolate, cocoa powder, sugar, corn syrup, almond extract, water
Pistachio paste can be hard to find, although Love’n Bake makes a nice one if you can get your hands on some. I’ve resigned myself to making my own pistachio paste as it is pretty straightforward with the exception of peeling the pistachios. If you can find unsalted, raw, shelled, and peeled pistachios, or you don’t care about peeling your pistachios, then the paste is as simple as placing four ingredients in a food processor and pushing the ON button. If you are compelled to peel your pistachios, this is the method that has worked best for me: boil the pistachios, dunk them in ice cold water, pat them dry, peel the skins off. The skinning is the tedious part that takes an hour or more depending on how meticulous you are about the peeling. Play your favorite podcast, radio show, music, whatever. It helps to take your mind off of the crazy.
boil the nuts for a minute or two
submerge the nuts in ice water
pat them dry on a dish towel
the skins should peel off easily
I let my pistachios dry out for a day or two, but you can use them right away. Just reduce the amount of water you add when you make the paste since the nuts will have a little moisture to them from the boiling and the ice bath. Run the pistachios, sugar, water, and corn syrup in a food processor or blender until it becomes a paste. This may require a little scraping of sides or smooshing of the giant ball that ends up rolling around the bowl. You’ll get there. Be patient. Use superfine sugar if the crunch of regular sugar granules might bother you. It should be a thick paste that holds its shape well. Roll the paste into 3/4-inch diameter balls – about a teaspoon per ball. Set them on wax paper as they tend to stick to plates.
roll into little balls
The next step is to make the ganache. Chop up a good quality dark chocolate and pour hot cream over it. Let the cream sit for a minute and then stir it together. It should turn into a smooth and velvety mixture. Then stir in your almond extract. Mine broke (separated), so I had to stir the ganache occasionally as it cooled and thickened. Eventually, it was fine. You want the ganache to cool to the point of having the consistency of soft playdough. When the ganache is pretty solid, start pulling off tablespoon-size blobs, flattening each blob into a 1/4-inch thick disc of ganache and wrapping it around the pistachio balls. It’s pretty forgiving in that you can patch holes easily enough. Just don’t squish too much so you preserve the spherical shape of the pistachio center.
pour the hot cream over the chocolate
stir until smooth
when the ganache is cooled, wrap a layer around a pistachio ball
roll the truffles until smooth
When the truffles have been rolled, it’s time to don your disposable gloves. You don’t HAVE to do this method of finishing the truffles, but I think the thin crack of a hard chocolate coating is really lovely and elegant. Plus, the chocolate doesn’t have to be tempered (yay!) because you roll it in stuff. Stuff equals cocoa powder or chopped pistachios. But really, if you don’t want to go to the trouble of this extra step, you could easily roll the naked truffles in cocoa powder or chopped nuts. If you want to trouble yourself more than this extra step, go ahead and enrobe the truffles in tempered chocolate. ALL GOOD because – pistachios! You’ll need to melt a little chocolate then smear some on the palm of one gloved hand. Roll a truffle around until it has a very thin, but uniform coating, then gently drop it into the bowl of cocoa or chopped nuts. Don’t drop it from great heights into the cocoa unless you like cleaning cocoa off of all the surrounding surfaces.
truffles ready for coating and rolling
get a thin layer of chocolate on the whole truffle
cover it with cocoa powder
or roll the truffle in chopped nuts
two kinds – both great
I like both versions very much, but the pistachio-coated truffle is my favorite. If you do plan to roll the truffles in chopped nuts and you want a nice green color, then peel extra pistachios when you make the pistachio paste and reserve the greenest ones for the exterior coating. If you don’t care about that stuff, then your life will be that much easier for it. These keep for a couple of weeks if stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator (or someplace cool and dark). The pistachio center is the unexpected part as most recipients will be all, “oh, a chocolate truffle!” and then when they bite into it their face will say, “surprise!” These make great gifts and sweet nibbles.
pretty on the outside…
surprise on the inside!
Pistachio Surprise Truffles
8 oz. pistachios, unsalted and shelled
4 oz. granulated sugar (use superfine for a smoother texture)
1/2 tbsp light corn syrup
2 tbsps water
1 lb. dark chocolate, chopped
1 cup heavy cream
1 tsp almond extract
4 oz. dark chocolate
1/4 cup cocoa powder for dusting (I use Dutch-process cocoa)
1 cup pistachios, chopped for rolling
Make the pistachio filling: If you want the pistachios as green as possible, you’ll need to remove the skins. To remove the skins, bring a quart of water to a rapid boil in a medium or large saucepan. Pour the pistachios in at once (take care as it will bubble up – just stir with a spoon to keep it from boiling over) and let them boil for 1-2 minutes. Prepare a large bowl full of ice water. When the pistachios are done boiling, immediately strain them in a colander and plunge the pistachios into the ice water. When the pistachios have cooled completely, drain them and set them out on a clean kitchen towel. Pat and rub them dry with another kitchen towel. The skins should peel off, but it will take a little time. Set the pistachios out to dry anywhere from an hour to a couple of days.
Place the pistachios, sugar, corn syrup, and water in a food processor or blender. Run the nuts until they become a thick paste. Pull off teaspoon-size pieces of the paste and roll them into balls about 3/4 inches in diameter. Place them on wax or parchment paper. Set aside.
Make the ganache: Place the chopped chocolate in a medium bowl. Heat the cream in a small saucepan over medium heat until just simmering. Remove from heat and pour over the chocolate. Let stand for a minute. Stir the mixture until smooth and uniform. Stir in the almond extract. Let the ganache cool until it is a soft playdough texture (about 30 minutes to an hour). Pull a tablespoon-size piece of the ganache off and flatten it into a 1/4-inch thick circle. Place a pistachio ball in the center and gently wrap the ganache around the ball, trying to preserve the pistachio sphere shape. Pinch off excess corners of ganache and patch the top of the ball as needed. Roll the ganache to make a smooth ball. Repeat for the rest of the truffles.
Coat the truffles: Melt the 4 ounces of chocolate (no need to temper). Place your coating – either the cocoa powder or the pistachios – in another bowl. Disposable gloves are optional, but make clean up much easier. Smear a teaspoon of melted chocolate on the palm of your hand. Roll a truffle over the chocolate until it has a thin coating all around the truffle and no excess chocolate dripping from it. Gently drop the truffle into the bowl of coating (cocoa powder or nuts) and using a spoon or a clean hand, roll the truffle around until it is completely coated. Repeat for the rest of the truffles. Store in an air-tight container in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks. Makes about 60 truffles.
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