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General Truffle Troubleshooting


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#1 Popcorn

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Posted 02 October 2003 - 10:02 AM

Okay, so I used to make truffles all the time, until I lost my recipe (which had been my great grandfather's, who was a chocolate maker in Baltimore in the 1800's).

I've searched high and low for a replacement recipe but they all seem either overly complicated -for me- or they don't turn out a decent product. The truffle I made had few ingredients, bittersweet chocolate, cream, I *think* a little butter, and that's about it. They were then rolled in cocoa powder.

That's about it, but somehow they retained a toothsomeness, a solidity that lasted until you bit into one. I would store them in the fridge, but if I left them out for a few hours they wouldn't melt, or change shape or anything. The most recent recipe someone gave me that looked promising called for 1 lb of chocolate, 1 Cup of cream, and a tablespoon of butter. The ganache was... gooshy, kind of melty and unless you took them directly out of the fridge and ate them they would sort of collapse on your hand. I tried remelting the ganache and adding more chocolate, but that didn't seem to do the trick.

Any suggestions? help? please?

(and please don't suggest I temper chocolate and dip them. I'm not nearly talented enough to do that)

Thanks

#2 Jon Tseng

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Posted 02 October 2003 - 10:18 AM

I tend to use creme fraiche rather than double cream - its just solid at room temp so the truffles keep shape. If you're stateside you might not be able to get it, though

There are zillions much truffle/ganache recipes - cream, creme fraiche, egg yolk, butter &tc &tc. Search this forum for ganache (as well as truffles) for more

cheerio

J
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#3 fredbram

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Posted 02 October 2003 - 10:18 AM

The proportions in your recipe seem like they should yield a pretty firm ganache. What is the technique you are using? Could the problem be somehow in the way you are combining the 3 ingredients?
Fred Bramhall

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#4 mckayinutah

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Posted 02 October 2003 - 10:32 AM

Popcorn,

I agree with Fredbram. The ratio of chocolate to heavy cream that I use for semisweet/bitterseet truffles is 2:1. I bring my cream to a boil and then pour over the chopped chocolate, whisk until smooth, then cover and refrigerate until very firm ( anywhere from 5 hours to overnight ). I have never added butter, so I don't know if that would affect your truffles or not. Chocolate and cream is all I use.

Take care,

Mckay

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#5 Popcorn

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Posted 02 October 2003 - 11:29 AM

McKay, I heat the cream and pour it over the chocolate, the same way (it sounds) you do. I then let it chill in the fridge overnight before preparing and rolling the truffles in cocoa.

I'll try the 2/1 ratio this weekend.

Jon, creme fraiche sounds like an excellent ingredient. Do you add anything else (other than chocolate) to balance the flavor? I can get a moderately good creme fraiche here, at least as good as the heavy cream I can find.

thanks again

#6 chocophile

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Posted 02 October 2003 - 12:43 PM

Popcorn:

May sound kinda silly, but whose chocolate are you using, what %, and is it relatively fresh?

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#7 Popcorn

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Posted 02 October 2003 - 12:51 PM

Last time I did it I used valhrona. In the past I have used callebut as well. I don't know the percent for sure (nor do I really know what percent means wrt chocolate) but for some reason I'm thinking it was 71%, if that makes sense for a very dark chocolate.

Is there a type/percent I should be looking for?

#8 Wendy DeBord

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Posted 02 October 2003 - 02:52 PM

Ditto on the 2 to 1.

Valhrona is a damn good chocolate, no problem with it. (wish I had that good of a chocolate to work with). I think your splitting hairs Chocophile it far more likely to be a recipe or proceedure that's giving Popcorn trouble.

A couple points I've learned (from some well known and very respected chefs): when melting the chocolate with the cream, after you've poured the cream in the bowl (you should only pour about 1/2 of your cream to start with) begin with a spatula in the center and stir the middle of the bowl. Then gradually bring in more of the bowls contents into your stirring area (hope that made sense?). This method really does make a nicer ganche, it's creamier and smoother like a professional chocolatiers work.

For a completely different texture if you take melted chocolate and cold cream and whip them together you get the lightest truffle, full of air that dissapears in your mouth. You can also take your traditionally made ganche and whip it too.

#9 fredbram

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Posted 02 October 2003 - 07:06 PM

Popcorn, just a quick note to make sure you realize that if you are using 1# of chocolate and 1 cup of cream then you are already using 2:1 proportions.
Fred Bramhall

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#10 Michael Laiskonis

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Posted 02 October 2003 - 11:30 PM

I wholeheartedly agree with your emulsifying technique, Sinclair. My cooks are not allowed to take a whisk anywhere near a ganache!

But Clay isn't necessarily off base with his question. Maybe not with regard to whether Popcorn's ganache was 'gooshy' as a result of using the Valrhona Guanaja (71%), but the stability of the ganache, especially if the original recipe intended a couverture with much less cocoa butter, may come into play. A recipe using a 61% couverture may be wonderful, but then the same recipe may break instantly with a 71% in its place.

As for the problem at hand, a 2:1 ratio should still be rather firm.
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#11 Popcorn

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Posted 03 October 2003 - 05:51 AM

Popcorn, just a quick note to make sure you realize that if you are using 1# of chocolate and 1 cup of cream then you are already using 2:1 proportions.

Yeah, I realize. Sorry I wasn't more clear, I meant that I'll take out the butter, which could be messing with the 2:1 proportions.

Sinclair: I'll definitely try your method for incorporating the cream. I've whisked in the past so am looking forward to trying this.

I re-checked the recipe I'm using and it in no way specifies % for the chocolate. What kind of a difference should I expect between the 71% and 61%? (or other %'s)

Either way, thanks everyone, I'm very looking forward to trying out some of these suggestions this weekend.

#12 Steve Klc

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Posted 03 October 2003 - 06:11 AM

Well, I'll chime in quickly to address one specific aspect of this discussion--how to incorporate the chocolate and the cream. Chocolatiers have a lot of techniques and tips to share about this and much of it conflicts, much of it reflects tradition, a personal style and who your mentors have been.

I watched Robert Linxe once in a demo stand over a bowl of ganache stirring with a whisk for 10 minutes and another distinguished French chocolatier was seated next to me chuckling at his technique the whole time.

Here's what I've found--technique-wise--it is equally possible to prepare an impeccable ganache using a spatula or a whisk if you employ that same gentle stirring from the center out, creating a calm small vortex which will eventually lead to a larger vortex and a shiny well-integrated emulsion. It's more about the proportions of the ganache recipe--the chocolate you use and the science behind the recipe--rather than the technique.

Try to prove it to yourself--do the same well-balanced recipe side by side with a spatula and a whisk. You may prefer one to the other--as Michael infers it might be more advantageous to train your staff to do it one way versus the other way--nothing like a whisk in the wrong hands! But both work very well.

And in this case we're discussing "ganache" not "whipped ganache," which as Wendy rightly mentioned is a completely different animal.

OK. Here's the fun.

Now do it the way Colleen and I do all of our ganaches: break all the traditional rules you've heard passed down--start with a bowl of melted chocolate. Then, instead of pouring cream onto chocolate-- pour your melted chocolate onto your "not too warm" infused cream slowly--stirring the top surface gently with a whisk--create that same slow gentle vortex stirring gradually outward until all of the cream and chocolate has been integrated. If you have glucose or trimolene in your recipe, have it in the cream as usual; if you add butter to your ganache, stir it in softened at the end as you would normally.

Then compare your ganache texture and unctuousness after it has set for a while at room temperature. (Yes, all of this should take place at cool room temperature and ideally not involve refrigeration at all.) Damn if you don't get more consistent and more perfect results by turning ganache on its head.

Molecular gastronomy works.
Steve Klc

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#13 Jon Tseng

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Posted 03 October 2003 - 06:27 AM

Jon, creme fraiche sounds like an excellent ingredient.  Do you add anything else (other than chocolate) to balance the flavor?  I can get a moderately good creme fraiche here, at least as good as the heavy cream I can find.

No just creme fraiche and chocolate

The ratio is 1:1 using lindy excellence

cheerio

J

Edited by Jon Tseng, 03 October 2003 - 06:27 AM.

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#14 KateW

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Posted 03 October 2003 - 06:43 AM

I've been reading this topic for the past few days because I'm currently in my advanced desserts class at school. We made truffles the other day and they came out great.
I'm noticing that there are different ratios for different types of chocolate--2:1 for dark chocolate, 2.5:1 for milk chocolate and 3:1 for white chocolate.
We pour the scalded cream over the chocolate and whisk. We only let it sit in the walk in for a couple hours and it was hard enough. (we made 3 lbs. total mixture)
We didn't add any butter. The milk chocolate was 33% cocoa butter, the people making the dark chocolate ones were using 52%. I don't know what the white was.
Also we melted some extra of whatever chocolate we were using and double layer coated the truffles with it.
Like I said, they came out really well. :wub:

#15 nightscotsman

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Posted 03 October 2003 - 07:40 AM

Another thing that might be making your truffles soft is when you add the butter. If you melt the butter in with the chocolate and hot cream, the ganache will be softer than if you add soft butter to cooler ganache (like about 60c). The butter will retain it's emulsification and the finished product should be firmer.

#16 Sandra Levine

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Posted 03 October 2003 - 09:18 AM

Now do it the way Colleen and I do all of our ganaches:  break all the traditional rules you've heard passed down--start with a bowl of melted chocolate.  Then, instead of pouring cream onto chocolate-- pour your melted chocolate onto your "not too warm" infused cream slowly--stirring the top surface gently with a whisk--create that same slow gentle vortex stirring gradually outward until all of the cream and chocolate has been integrated.  If you have glucose or trimolene in your recipe, have it in the cream as usual; if you add butter to your ganache, stir it in softened at the end as you would normally.

Then compare your ganache texture and unctuousness after it has set for a while at room temperature. (Yes, all of this should take place at cool room temperature and ideally not involve refrigeration at all.)  Damn if you don't get more consistent and more perfect results by turning ganache on its head.

Molecular gastronomy works.

Just like home cooks do! (except for the glucose or trimolene.)

#17 Steve Klc

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Posted 03 October 2003 - 09:23 AM

Since when have home cooks poured melted chocolate into cream to make a ganache Sandra--instead of pouring cream onto chocolate? If so, there's an even better story here than I thought. Do you have any links to where you might have since these instructions before? Tell me this hasn't already appeared in Fannie Farmer or Bon Appetit or in Junior League cookbooks and I missed it?
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#18 Sandra Levine

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Posted 03 October 2003 - 09:27 AM

I don't have a link. That's the way I learned to do it, many years ago. Only in recent years did I learn it was "wrong."

#19 Steve Klc

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Posted 03 October 2003 - 09:31 AM

Still, you opened a door I'm going to walk through Sandra and I thank you. And you're not wrong, the conventional wisdom was just a little, well, conventional. If anyone comes across anything, let me know.
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#20 Sandra Levine

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Posted 03 October 2003 - 09:37 AM

A recipe called Chocolate Sour Cream Frosting or something like that, (it was ganache made with sour cream rather than sweet cream) appeared in the McCall's cookbook in the early 1960s using the melted chocolate technique. I made it, liked it and used the same technique with sweet, heavy cream. From my own files:

Chocolate Sour Cream Frosting

9 oz. semisweet chocolate, chopped
¾ cup sour cream

Melt chocolate, add sour cream and dash of salt. Beat till creamy and spreadable. (for a 9” round + filling

To what extent this corresponds to the original recipe I cited above, I can't be sure, since I no longer have that cookbook, but I know for certain that it used melted chocolate.

Edited by Sandra Levine, 03 October 2003 - 09:39 AM.


#21 Popcorn

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Posted 03 October 2003 - 11:41 AM

Steve,

Do I pour all the chocolate into the cream before beginning to whisk, or do I begin to whisk as I'm pouring the chocolate?

#22 chefette

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Posted 03 October 2003 - 11:48 AM

Depends on your method. If you are using the basic chopped chocolate and hot cream - then pour all the cream over the chocolate, let rest a moment or so to start the melt process then start stirring with small tight circles in the center and let the mixture coagulate around your spatula or whisk (as the case may be). If you are starting with melted chocolate and hot cream (whichever goes into the other) then you gradually pour in a stream whilst stirring (whisking) in small tight circles in the center until the core coagulates and then it will start pulling everything into the center until you have ganache.

Let that sit (covered) for about 20 minutes or so then stir in very soft butter. cover so plastic is directly in contact with the surface of the ganache and allow to sit in a cool location for several hours until it crystallizes. I do not recommend refrigerating the ganache at this point.

When it is stiff enough to pipe or scoop you are in business.

#23 Steve Klc

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Posted 03 October 2003 - 12:06 PM

Yes, start whisking as you start to pour the chocolate--just like you would whisk as you start to pour the oil while making a vinaigrette.
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#24 Popcorn

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Posted 07 October 2003 - 05:21 AM

Okay, made the truffles this weekend. They turned out great! I used Steve KLC's method for incorporating the chocolate and cream, which was a little tricky without a third hand but worth it nonetheless.

The texture was very close to what I was looking for, firm even while sitting out (cool room temperature), though I would have liked them to have a slight crumble (I think, I'm struggling with a description of this) when first bitten into.

If I wanted to add some kinda alcohol, is there a particular time I should do it? Are there changes I need to make to the base recipe?

thanks again, my wife is very happy because of y'all

#25 Steve Klc

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Posted 07 October 2003 - 06:49 AM

PC--I'll just pick up that "crumble" comment--if you're doing "ganache" correctly, and working with good chocolate and a good recipe, there's no crumble. What you aim for is perfectly shiny, smooth and unctuous--and it is not dry, not grainy and not crumbly in the slightest.

Congrats on your success so far.
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#26 Popcorn

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Posted 07 October 2003 - 07:23 AM

Yeah, I knew crumble was the wrong word. Here's another try, The truffles I'm dreaming about... after you bite into them, there's a long pause where they've retained their shape before the warmth of your mouth engages the truffle's smoothness and unctuousness.

#27 zilla369

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Posted 07 October 2003 - 09:05 AM

Ahem. I'm just now beginning to learn some chocolate basics - of course we used some chocolate in school, but since i didn't take the intense pastry courses it was only a few recipes.

I believe i know how to make chocolate for truffles the traditional way, but i have a question.

I make a Godiva Chocolate Liqueur Biscotti that we present as an amenity with the check. After the biscotti is made and cooled, i drizzle it with melted bittersweet chocolate as as garnish, and let that harden in stripes.

Well, the other day, having a small amount of leftover liqueur on the table, i got the bright idea that i would stir it into the melted garnish chocolate for extra flavor. The melted chocolate seized immediately, so i had to melt more for the biscotti. Now i'm left with a lump of seized chocolate in a bowl in the fridge. Can this (very nicely flavored) chocolate somehow be coaxed into a usable form of ganache to make truffles with?
Marsha Lynch aka "zilla369"

Has anyone ever actually seen a bandit making out?

Uh-huh: just as I thought. Stereotyping.

#28 nightscotsman

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Posted 08 October 2003 - 08:00 AM

I think the problem was adding just a "small amount" of liqueur to the chocolate. You either have to add a lot of liquid or none at all or chocolate will seize, since chocolate is 100% solids. Sugar, for comparison, is also 100% solids and if you add a little bit of liquid it will gather into a grainy mass, but if you add a lot of liquid it will melt and become smooth. I believe it has to do with overcoming the saturation point.

To save the chocolate, just chop it up, heat some cream and pour it over. It should melt and whisk together into a decent ganache.

#29 zilla369

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Posted 15 October 2003 - 02:13 PM

I think the problem was adding just a "small amount" of liqueur to the chocolate. You either have to add a lot of liquid or none at all or chocolate will seize, since chocolate is 100% solids. Sugar, for comparison, is also 100% solids and if you add a little bit of liquid it will gather into a grainy mass, but if you add a lot of liquid it will melt and become smooth. I believe it has to do with overcoming the saturation point.

To save the chocolate, just chop it up, heat some cream and pour it over. It should melt and whisk together into a decent ganache.

Thanks, NSM - i took your advice and made some fantastic Godiva liqueur truffles for dessert amenities Monday from my poor seized chocolate.

I have a question about flavoring ganache for truffles - if i want raspberry-flavored chocolate truffles, can i simply add Chambord to the ganache? Can i add my intensely-flavored berry sauce, which is made from bourbon-and-sugar-marinated berries that have been pureed and passed through a chinois?
Marsha Lynch aka "zilla369"

Has anyone ever actually seen a bandit making out?

Uh-huh: just as I thought. Stereotyping.

#30 Lesley C

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Posted 15 October 2003 - 02:29 PM

OK, I see this very differently.
I think the problem here is that you are not coating the ganache balls in couverture before you roll them in the cocoa. To me truffles that are just balls of ganache rolled in cocoa are amateurish and silly. In my chocolatier's view, you must roll the refrigerated boules at least once in couverture (it doesn't have to be tempered) before rolling them in chocolate (don’t do this with a fork or ring, roll the balls between chocolate-coated palms). The chocolate coating helps maintain the truffle's shape and gives a bit more resistance to the tooth when you bite into it.
I always roll my truffles in couveture twice before they hit the cocoa, and every good chocolaterie I worked at in France and here in Montreal does the same.
Try it, you'll like it. And the mooshy consistency might be a good thing if it isn't melting all over your fingers. :smile: