Monday, September 14, 2020

Hand-Dipped Sea Salt Truffles #FoodieReads


This month the #FoodNFlix bloggers are watching "Chocolat" and the #LitHappens group is reading Chocolat, the novel that inspired that movie. I watched, re-read, then found a follow-up novel by Joanne Harris, Peaches for Monsieur le Curé: A Novel.* I did learn - after I finished - that this is the third book and I skipped the second one. Whoops. I guess I'll read them out of order. If you're interested in my thoughts about Chocolat novel in my Pain au Chocolat post.

On the Page
photo from amazon.com

Vianne returns to Lansquenet after receiving a letter forwarded from Armande via her grandson Luc. Armande entreats Vianne to return and save Reynauld because he won't ask for help on his own.

With a continued focus on the central themes of discrimination, feminism, and racism, this novel has even more xenophobia than Chocolat. Possibly because though Vianne is 'other' she is a singular person; and even Roux and his nomadic river people are not too numerous. This book introduces an entire population of Muslims to Lansquenet who have a settlement across town and have businesses within the town center.

Sadly, it's probably not a stretch to imagine the racial tensions between the French townsfolk and the newer Muslim residents. Vianne bridges the gap with food.

She explains, "My mother and I once lived in Tangier. A vibrant place in so many ways; filled with contradictions. I’ve always used food and recipes as a means of understanding those around me; and sometimes, in a place like Tangier, food is the only shared language" (pg. 71).

And more: "Years of travelling with my mother have taught me that food is a universal passport. Whatever the constraints of language, culture or geography, food crosses over all boundaries. To offer food is to extend the hand of friendship; to accept is to be accepted into the most closed of communities" (pg. 88).

Not much else to share about this book other than to tell you to read it! I enjoyed this book immensely though the end and reveal were a little jarring. Still, it boils down to this which is really my personal motto: It isn’t really magic, of course. But food that has been made with love does have special properties" (pg. 341).

On the Plate

When I was considering what to make, I thought about peach jam as Vianne and Anouk do with fruit from Armande's tree. "'We have to gather the peaches today,' I said as I entered the kitchen. 'Armande would never forgive me if I let the wasps get to them.' 'Yay! Peach jam!' said Anouk, jumping up from the sofa. I smiled. One of Anouk’s most endearing traits is the way she flits so easily from childhood to adulthood, light to shade, like a butterfly moving from flower to flower, unaware of the changing worlds. Today she is almost as young as she was the day we first arrived here" (pg. 163).
               
"There’s something very comforting about the ritual of jam-making. It speaks of cellars filled with preserves; of neat rows of jars on pantry shelves. It speaks of winter mornings and bowls of chocolat au lait, with thick slices of good fresh bread and last year’s peach jam, like a promise of sunshine at the darkest point of the year. It speaks of four stone walls, a roof, and of seasons that turn in the same place, in the same way, year after year, with sweet familiarity. It is the taste of home" (pg. 173). But we seem to have turned the corner on the seasons and I didn't see as many fresh peaches at the market as I needed.

Then I thought about the traditional way of breaking fast at Ramadan. "We began with dates.... Then, harissa and rose-petal soup, with crêpes mille trous, saffron couscous and roast spiced lamb. Almonds and apricots for dessert, with rahat loukoum and coconut rice" (pg. 341). A few years ago I did make a Moroccan Rose Harissa and roast lamb is always a favorite. Here's my Roast Lamb with Bourbon-Plum Glaze.

But I figured I would make something chocolate in honor of Vianne's chocolaterie. "I was rolling the last of the truffles before packing them into boxes. It’s hard enough keeping chocolate at the right temperature as it is, but on a boat, with so little space, it’s best to keep to the simplest things. Truffles are very easy to make, and the cocoa powder in which they are rolled keeps the chocolate from blooming" (pg. 10).

Though truffles look difficult, they aren't. "Chocolate is safe. Chocolate follows specific rules. If it burns, it’s because we failed to follow the directions properly. Love is random, centreless; striking out like pestilence" (pg. 262).

Ingredients 
makes approximately 30 truffles

Truffles 
  • 1-1/2 cup 72% cacao chocolate, chopped
  • 1 cup organic heavy whipping cream
  • 1 T butter, softened
  • Also needed: Tablespoon scoop, baking sheet, parchment paper
Finishing
  • 2 cups 72% cacao chocolate, chopped
  • flake salt, as needed
  • Also needed: double boiler or a mixing bowl that can sit suspended over a saucepan, toothpicks

Procedure
Truffles
Place chopped chocolate in a large mixing bowl.  In a medium saucepan, bring cream to a boil .  then pour cream over the chocolate.  Let sit for three minutes. Whisk until smooth.  Stir in butter. Refrigerate until firm - at least two hours. I left mine overnight.

Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper. With a tablespoon or tablespoon scoop, scoop chilled truffle ganache from your bowl and place on the lined tray. Refrigerate for a minimum of 15 minutes. (I let them chill for about 30 minutes.)

Finishing
First you need to temper your chocolate. Place 1 cup of your chopped chocolate in a double-boiler and place, over low heat, until melted. Remove from heat and stir in the other half of the chocolate. Set aside until the chocolate begins to lose its shine; it's beginning to crystallize. Then, return the chocolate to the double-boiler and warm again, over very low heat, until smooth and glossy.

Dip chilled truffles in the melted chocolate, one at a time.  You may use a candy dipping tool, but I just use a two-toothpick combo. Dip the truffle quickly into the melted chocolate and shake off the excess.  Place on the parchment-lined tray and use another toothpick to nudge the truffle off of the toothpick.  Dip the toothpick back into the melted chocolate and use a dab of chocolate to cover up any imperfections.

Immediately after chocolate dipping, sprinkle the truffle with a bit of fleur de sel.  Repeat with remaining truffles. Let the chocolate set. Serve at room temperature.               

*This blog currently has a partnership with Amazon.com in their affiliate program, which gives me a small percentage of sales if you buy a product through a link on my blog. It doesn't cost you anything more. If you are uncomfortable with this, feel free to go directly to Amazon.com and search for the item of your choice.


Click to see what everyone else read in September 2020: here.

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