Matcha truffles

“I don’t like green tea, it tastes like grass”
 photo P1540721_zpsc683e1e0.jpg
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard that from people when I talk about matcha or green tea. I love the flavour, but apparently it’s an acquired taste. To each his own, and that’s coming from someone who hates liver. I get it.

But to be with friends who appreciate just how special the clean, earthy flavor of matcha can be, conversations are just great. It’s that moment when the face instantly lights up, and you could go on and on about how good this matcha latte is or how in-your-face the ice cream can be. The magic also happens at first taste, when you take it all in. Glorious seconds of uninterrupted silence, and it’s all you need to speak volumes.
 photo P1540700_zpsc8933bc0.jpg
I need to have my matcha fix at least once a week, and that’s usually in the company of Yedy and Eugene. Eugene enjoys chocolate more than green ambrosia, while Yedy shares my insane enthusiasm. There was this one time at a food bazaar where this really nice ice cream purveyor told us that she had a tub of matcha ice cream reserved for someone else, and that the flavor was still being developed. The moment she mentioned “matcha”, we jumped like the energizer bunny. Or maybe we looked like rabid dogs. Anyway, our enthusiasm compelled her to give us a free scoop. We were impressed.
 photo P1540726_zps8c0e096f.jpg
Ever since I made the truffles, it was only natural for me to create a batch with matcha. It just made sense. It follows the same recipe for white chocolate truffles, but a generous helping of matcha powder makes all the difference.

It doesn’t make sense for me to just add a pinch of powder. Matcha is basically powdered green tea leaves, so I wanted the truffles to taste like green tea and then some.  And pistachios could do no wrong in my eyes, and I’ll always find a way to use it. It becomes a great foil. But the star is the full-bodied matcha.
 photo P1540701_zps70e78465.jpg
 photo P1540713_zps4454cce3.jpg

What I have right now is just a note, a lyric, a hymn to the collective anthem we all share. But just the same, this goes out to you and to all of us kindred spirits who gather in the name of all things matcha. We are great people, and we can make it through anything.

Matcha truffles

makes around 30 pieces

  • 115 grams whipping cream
  • 350 grams good quality or couverture white chocolate, chopped + around 150-200 grams more for tempering and dipping
  • 2 vanilla bean pods, seeds scraped
  • 3 – 4 tablespoons good quality matcha powder, or more to taste
  • chopped pistachio (roasted and peeled), as needed

In separate bowls, scale each kind of chocolate. Set aside. In a pot, combine vanilla seeds and cream. When it is hot, add the matcha powder and combine well. Bring to a boil. Add the cream to the chocolate and stir with a heat-proof spatula until it has melted. You can also place the bowl over a water bath to hasten the melting. Taste the mixture, and you may add more pwder at this point to taste. When it’s smooth, allow it to chill in the fridge for 30 minutes to an hour, or until the ganache has thickened, but is still malleable.

Portion around 8-10 grams of chocolate and with clean/gloved hands, shape each piece into a rough ball. When it starts to melt too fast and you’re not yet done shaping, it’s best to pop the mixture back into the fridge to chill and harden a bit. It’s  best to work in a cool room.

Prepare all the ingredients for coating: the coating chocolate and the chopped nuts. Here is a tutorial on how to temper white chocolate. Create an organised assembly line starting with the chocolate balls, the tempered chocolate and lastly, the nuts. Place a tray or plate at the end of the line to place all the finished pieces.

Picking up the balls with a fork (don’t stab it!), dip it into the melted chocolate and allow the excess to drip. Coat it next with the nuts. What I do it I just plop it into the bowl of nuts and agitate the bowl so the nuts swirl around the truffle. Chill the finished products in the fridge.

Dark and White Chocolate Truffles

For as long as I could remember, dark chocolate has always been my poison of choice. It has a rich, complex and versatile flavour that makes me a very happy child. I’ve learned to develop my sweet tooth since I started baking. Now more than ever, I need dessert to cap off a meal, or probably even start it. Or it could be a meal in itself, who am I to complain? And a dessert with dark chocolate will always be a runaway favourite. Hands down.
 photo P1540446_zps8b93d35f.jpg
But with truffles, let’s make an exception. I’m a truffle pig that way. Bite-sized spheres of bliss, truffles are. Right now there’s a little container of truffles on my desk, calling out to me. People who know me, know that I have this weird mannerism of eating/nibbling impulsively, throwing caution to the wind. Whether it’s that singular chicken leg bone, a bag of Cheetos, or that measly petri dish filled with gravy, consider them done and devoured when I’m at the table.
 photo P1540425_zps421542ba.jpg
So the dilemma is how to avoid the truffles calling out to me right now. Okay, there’s no need to be overly dramatic, Gio. There’s no problem. Just eat the damn truffles already. /End internal conversation

My knees go weak for truffles. And erring on the side of danger here, but I see no reason why I can’t finish a plate of white chocolate truffles all by my lonesome. Yes, truffles make me do strange and dangerous things. The darks will always be there, and they’ll always be awesome. I coated them with toasted hazelnuts and pistachios, and it makes a great contrast in texture.
 photo P1540440_zps187f6161.jpg
But the whites are something else. Maybe it’s the pistachios. Maybe I attack them with the same gusto as I devour pork fat. Or maybe they’re just so good, there’s no need to beat around the bush.

Hello there, gorgeous.
 photo P1540429_zps074e94f1.jpg

Simple Dark and White Chocolate Truffles

makes around 30 pieces of each kind

  • 115 grams whipping cream (115 grams for each kind of chocolate)
  • 300 grams good quality or couverture bittersweet chocolate, chopped + around 150-200 grams more for tempering and dipping
  • 350 grams good quality or couverture white chocolate, chopped + around 150-200 grams more for tempering and dipping
  • 2 vanilla bean pods, seeds scraped
  • chopped pistachio and hazelnuts (roasted and peeled), as needed

In separate bowls, scale each kind of chocolate. Set aside. In a pot, combine vanilla seeds and cream, and bring to a boil. Add the cream to the chocolate and stir with a heat-proof spatula until it has melted. You can also place the bowl over a water bath to hasten the melting. When it’s smooth, allow it to chill in the fridge for 30 minutes to an hour, or until the ganache has thickened, but is still malleable.

Portion around 8-10 grams of chocolate and with clean/gloved hands, shape each piece into a rough ball. When it starts to melt too fast and you’re not yet done shaping, it’s best to pop the mixture back into the fridge to chill and harden a bit. It’s  best to work in a cool room.

Prepare all the ingredients for coating: the coating chocolate and the chopped nuts. Here are tutorials on how to temper dark and white chocolate. Create an organised assembly line starting with the chocolate balls, the tempered chocolate and lastly, the nuts. Place a tray or plate at the end of the line to place all the finished pieces.

Picking up the balls with a fork (don’t stab it!), dip it into the melted chocolate and allow the excess to drip. Coat it next with the nuts. What I do it I just plop it into the bowl of nuts and agitate the bowl so the nuts swirl around the truffle. Chill the finished products in the fridge.

Blueberries and Cream Graham “Bars”

Photobucket

Here in the Philippines, there’s this easy and inexpensive dessert called Mango Float/Mango Royale that every self-respecting homemaker probably knows how to make. My mom swears it was my aunt/her sister-in-law who shared the recipe, and when my mom first made it at home, my little 8-year old self swore it was the best dessert ever created.

It was refreshingly simple. A pyrex is filled with alternating layers of graham crackers, cream and slivers of mangoes, then it’s put in the freezer for a few hours, after which, you have a great way to cap off any meal. It’s sometimes too decadent that it can hold its own, without being an accompaniment to a meal. But I’m not complaining. I rarely get to eat it now, because I’m always afraid I might get tonsillitis if I go overboard.
Photobucket

The dessert is almost too ubiquitous that I don’t really think posting it here would count as something special. And we didn’t have mangoes. There are variations of the ‘float’ – using canned fruit cocktail, peaches, and in my case, blueberry pie filling. The pie filling has been pitifully sitting at the back of our pantry probably since we moved in, more than a year ago. Or more, who knows? But it wasn’t going to go bad yet, and my mom has been prodding me to make something with the graham crackers that she bought.

It’s strange that making this made me think of making it with mangoes instead. Maybe because it’s more luscious and festive. I’m not saying this recipe is bad, of course! All I’m saying is, if mango float was summer, then this would be autumn. And as much as I’d like to imagine myself jumping in the foliage…autumn is nonexistent in the tropics.

And as for the title, well, this was just my attempt at being original. I think it didn’t work. (haha)

Photobucket

Blueberries and Cream Graham “Bars”

  • 20 pieces graham crackers (1 pack usually has 20 pieces)
  • 3 cups all-purpose cream
  • 1/2 cup condensed milk
  • 1 21-ounce can blueberry pie filling
  1. In a bowl, mix together the cream and condensed milk. Add the blueberry pie filling and mix well. Set aside.
  2. In an 8 by 11.5 by 2 inch pan, assemble the first layer of graham crackers at the bottom. Add the cream, enough to create a half an inch tall layer on the top the graham crackers. Top with another layer of graham crackers. Repeat the process until you reach the top.
  3. Place it in the freezer (make sure your pan is freezer safe) for a few hours or until the cream has solidified. You can also opt to just chill it in the refrigerator instead. Slice into bars when serving and enjoy!

No-Bake Cheesecake

Photobucket

Baby steps. That’s what I told myself when I finally found a recipe for cheesecake that I was willing to try. Well, that’s what I tell myself every time I want to attempt another dish that requires skill, more than anything else. The thing is sometimes telling myself I need to take baby steps means I’m also leaving the door wide open for procrastination. Which happens a lot, when you’re me.

Cheesecake has been something I’ve always wanted to attempt. I remember, before we even had an oven (we finally bought a functional oven, along with building a new house, just a year ago), I would put together cream cheese, whipped cream and canned blueberries on a pie plate and call it cheesecake. I didn’t know better.

Photobucket

I told myself I would finally start making a proper cheesecake once I had the proper equipment. The biggest revelation that I had? Cheesecake can be baked (Didn’t know that before!). The possibilities were seemingly endless.

Then we flash forward to the present time, where I can actually look back at all the attempts at it over the past few months. You read that right, past few months. Now, why did I never post anything about it here before? Well, let me count the ways:

Photobucket

1. The first attempt was decent and tasted like ice cream, according to my friends. I wouldn’t know, I had tonsillitis. That happened over the holidays; I loathed the world.

2. Second attempt was for Valentines Day; I made it for no one in particular. As soon as I poured the filling into the springform and hoisted the whole thing up to put in the oven, the detachable bottom of the pan failed me. I had crust and filling running down my arms. Disgusting, really.

3. Vindication came when I finally made my best ever Red Velvet Cupcakes with cream cheese and streusel. Food Frenzy even listed it as one of the most viewed recipes last February. Oh wait, a cupcake……..isn’t a cheesecake…..right?

4. Last Christmas I followed a cheesecake recipe to the letter. After diligently leaving it in the fridge to cool, slicing the whole thing revealed a runny center. I had to bake it again, and again, and again. Can you picture out a cheesecake that fell from the second floor (SPLAT!) and onto a serving pan – and then you bake it until it’s solid? Good, we’re on the same page.

Now here we are with cheesecake attempt # 5. And I must say I’m pretty pleased with the results. Creamy, surprisingly light cheesecake taste? Yes. Solid structure? Yes. A tasty topping? Yes.

The only cop-out? This isn’t baked. Yeah, cheesecake purists,  this is a no-bake cheesecake. No. Bake.

Photobucket

The rationale for not baking it? For one, it’s relatively easier than baking. And most importantly, I don’t have to use my oven! You see, we’ve been having perennial power outages that last for around four hours per day, because apparently that’s what happens when you’re in a developing country. So, I managed to work my way around this little hitch.

Photobucket

The taste has been balanced well – the slightly sharp taste of the cream cheese is tempered with the addition of whipped cream. This cheesecake is pretty heavy, so a moderate slice would go a long way. I’d say, this is a great way of exercising my chance at baby steps. But of course, I can’t wait to try the real deal next time. Successfully, I mean.

PS: As much as I want to blog about how I made dulce de leche, the idea of waiting two hours just to cook condensed milk in the oven, doesn’t appeal to me. The result of the waiting still yielded condensed milk, albeit just darker in color. Maybe I just need to refine the technique. If you want, just use condensed milk. But that’s just me at 21. Maybe me at 22 would be more appreciative. 

Photobucket

Basic No-Bake Cheesecake (serves 12; adapted from The Best of Food Magazine)

crust

  • 12 – 14 graham crackers, crushed
  • 1/4 cup granulated white sugar
  • 1/2 cup melted butter

cheesecake

  • 2 tablespoons (around 2 sachets) unflavored gelatin (I used Knox)
  • 1/2 cup cold water
  • 2 bars (225 grams or 8 ounces each) cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup granulated white sugar
  • 1 cup (250 ml) whipped cream (I used all-purpose cream)
  • 1 cup (250 ml) yogurt or sour cream
  1. Combine crust ingredients in a medium bowl. Mix well. With the aid of a spoon, press onto the bottom of a 9 – inch springform pan, covering it completely. Chill in the refrigerator until ready to use.
    Photobucket
    Photobucket
  2. In a saucepan, disperse the gelatin in water. Set aside for 5 minutes to allow the granules to swell.
  3. Place the saucepan over LOW heat, stirring continuously until gelatin granules have dissolved completely, taking care that it DOES NOT BOIL, because boiling weakens the gelatin structure. Once dissolved (it will resemble runny syrup), remove from heat and set aside.Photobucket
  4. If using all – purpose cream: in a medium sized bowl that has been chilled in the refrigerator, using you hand mixer with the whisk attachment, whisk cream until soft peaks form (when you lift the whisk afterwards, a “peak” forms on the surface of the cream)

    Photobucket

    those 'pointy' things are the 'peaks'

  5. In a large bowl of a stand mixer, or simply using your hand mixer with the whisk attachment, beat cream cheese until light and fluffy. You may use the same hand mixer whisk you used to beat the all-purpose cream. Add the sugar, whipped cream and sour cream.Photobucket
  6. Pour in the gelatin mixture into the cream cheese mixture. Continue to beat until smooth.
  7. Pour the mixture onto the prepared pan. Level the surface of the cheesecake with a spatula. Chill overnight. Serve as is, or with the topping of your choice. For the dulce de leche recipe, click here or herePhotobucket