Reportedly last week, two of my colleagues stood before a pastry case, selecting a birthday cake for yours truly. Daunted by the selection, they narrowed the field with one qualification:
“She does say ganache a lot.”
Oh and I DO! Chocolate, and the idea of being a chocolatier is what drew me to culinary school, and carried through my work as a pastry chef. I can’t leave chocolate alone for even a day – little tastes and bits of chocolate weave their way in – nibbles of bars after lunch, and with wine after dinner. Into sinful croissants for breakfast. Lists of chocolate purveyors to try clog my pinboard at home. But the one part I love most about chocolate – making it, and working with it – just doesn’t happen often enough.
The science behind working chocolate is rather straightforward, though highly specific; by no means is melting, tempering, crafting and creating with chocolate an easy process. Chocolate is one of the most finicky mediums in the kitchen and it must be handled with absolute care and attention; it cannot get too hot, shouldn’t get too cold, and poured/dipped/drizzled at just the right moment. In our warm little Oakland kitchen, I have to create just the right circumstances to play with it….and sometimes that means that the hours afterwork don’t allow for such hands-on enjoyment.
But, this busy girl/homemade confection devotee just couldn’t imagine Valentine’s Day coming without having a treat recipe to share. So it was time to get creative! This recipe contains no meltable chocolate – only cacao powder. I like to use Navitas Naturals as I find it has a superior flavor for recipes like this where it needs to shine.) For some time, I have been working for some time on a raw candy bar that will fill that hole where the conventional Snickers bar ends, and a pile of nutrition whole-foods bars begins. Secrets from those development notes came in handy here and the result is a sweet little hand-rolled confection that is fast, easy, and fun to make, AND can be popped two at a time into any athletes’ mouth without hesitation. (Oh! Those of you on vegan diets will enjoy this one too, as will you raw devotees!)
Just as I improvised the recipe to suit life this week (short on time, big on intention, hungry as always) there is a great deal of space for improvisation here. I used toasted pistachios in the truffle base, but you could substitute walnuts, pecans, toasted almonds etc. (Those of you attracted to the recipe with raw sensibilities will be sure to keep your nuts untoasted.) To finish the truffles, you could roll them in crushed nuts, coconut, or cacao powder after dipping them — I kept them naked here except for the tiniest sprinkling of cinnamon and cardamom on each.
Just moments of time and a smidge of intention are enough to whip up a batch of these babies.