Friday, September 18, 2009

Cheaply Decadent

I never thought I would see "cheaply" describe "decadent" in my life. But I think homemade truffles might be just that.

As I think this blog has made clear on a fairly continuous basis, I just cannot get enough of chocolate. How so? The summer I gave up chocolate, I lost 40 pounds. Well, there was the whole diet and exercise thing, but let's be real, no chocolate probably played a major role there, too.

But now that chocolate has firmly re-entered my life, I'm not too shy to say that I can enjoy it in many forms and, thank goodness, it has not been too difficult to go the vegan route and still preserve all that I love about chocolate. One of my weaknesses, though - and one of my expensive weaknesses - is truffles. Compounding the problem is that I live in the home city of Vosges Haut Chocolate, which simply has the best truffles. EVER. The concept behind Vosges is simple. Chocolate by itself is not that exciting; however, by adding some slight flavors (some you can taste directly, and others you can't), chocolate can *pop* in exciting and unexpected ways. And my addiction began!

But boy, do you pay the price for that goodness. Nine of those awesome truffles are $26. And are they worth it? Yes. Can I afford to keep that up to feed my addiction and impress my family and friends? No. Fortunately, because I apparently have the cognitive level of a very small child, I found that as long as I avoid going to the Vosges store, I forget about them. Out of sight, out of mind.

And then, my neighborhood Whole Foods opened, and started selling Vosges chocolate bars - clearly NOT a good situation. And although I had a difficult time putting the words "cheaply decadent" together, I have an even harder time putting "will" with "power." Yipe!

Enter the Barefoot Contessa, here to save me again! I saw her make these truffles on her Food Network show, and I was amazed at how easy they are to make and just how darn fancy they are; use soy cream and read the labels on your chocolate, and you've also got a vegan treat. I also strongly suspect that these truffles make a good "base" recipe; that is, at the stage where you add the coffee (which provides said *pop* here), I wonder if you sub in some of the Vosges secret ingredients if you will get an equally fancy result with a different flavor. In her original recipe, Ina Garten adds 2 tablespoons of Grand Marnier as well as the coffee. But I'll save those fun experiments for down the road.

Chocolate Truffles (adapted from the Barefoot Contessa)
Yields: A whole bunch of truffles (although these store well in the fridge)

1/2 pound good bittersweet chocolate (My vegan fave is Equal Exchange or 365 Brand dark chocolate)
1/2 pound good semisweet chocolate (Ghirardelli semisweet chocolate chips are vegan)
1 cup soy cream 2 tablespoons
1 tablespoon prepared coffee
1/2 teaspoon good vanilla extract
Powdered sugar
Cocoa powder

1) If necessary, chop up the chocolate and put them in a mixing bowl.
2) Heat the soy cream in a small saucepan until it just boils and then cool for 20 seconds.
3) Pour the cream on the chocolate (be careful; try to find a bowl that won't get hot). Slowly stir the cream and chocolates together until the chocolate is completely melted.
4) Stir in coffee and vanilla, and set aside at room temperature for an hour.
5) Using two teaspoons or a cookie scoop, scoop round balls of the chocolate mixture onto a baking sheet with parchment paper. Roll each ball of chocolate in your hands to roughly make it round. If desired, roll in confectioners' sugar, cocoa powder, or a mixture of the two.
6) Store in the fridge.

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