Thursday, October 29, 2009
DARK CHOCOLATE TRUFFLE MOCHI
Something in the way it looked......that darkly wicked centre, that soft, translucent, pillowy surround, that whisper of chocolate dust....... something in the curious mingling of East and West...... that sticky gummy mochi dough, that creamy rich ganache.........or something in the way of suggestion......opulence, extravagance, self indulgence. Whatever it was that it was.....it moved me. To make some.
My debut in truffle world. But these are not just any truffes. The lovely blog of Divina's Sense and Serendipity was where I chanced upon these little gems. To suggest that something as basic and mundane as mochi from the pantry of an Asian kitchen could transcend into sublimity if married with something as luxurious as ganache was completely out of my league. Never in my sweetest hallucinations could I fabricate such chemistry. Until it has been dreamt up and tested by someone else.
A coward. That's all I am. But brave enough to step into someone else's sweet sensational flights of fancy. Like these Preciousnesses.
Mochi, mochiko, pulut or glutinous rice flour is a very common ingredient in Malaysian/South East Asian sweets. Mixed with coconut milk and/or pandan it makes a very soft and obliging dough in its raw form.
Often such a dough is constructed around a filling of sweetened coconut shreds such as these or cupped and sealed to hold a nib of palm sugar like these which are then steamed in quaint bamboo steamers or boiled until the dough turns beautifully gummy and translucent.
These are what we devour in between meals, in between doing, thinking and everything else.
Sometimes a mochi batter is tinted with different colours or shades by the juice of pandan (screwpine) leaves or artificial food colouring and then steamed in multi-coloured and layered cakes such as these.
Rice flour is gluten-free with a high starch content making the cake gummy, sticky and almost toffee like. Glutinous rice flour, pulut or mochi is the gummier and more starchy of the two.
The pleasure of eating such cakes is precisely in that very lovely chewiness.
So imagine biting into a truffle where first you encounter the bitter tinge of cocoa dust, then a soft, delicately sweet, chewy and gummy layer and finally its richly decadent and chocolatey centre. Like 3 civilizations' sweet inventions that have become one. Paradise I say.
Overall, the truffles weren't difficult to make at all although the handling of the cooked and steamed mochi dough can be a little tricky because it was very soft, stretchy, gummy, sticky and more often than not it had a tendency to spring back somewhat when stretched.
I had flattened out the dough while it was still hot, as per Divina's instructions, right after taking it out of the pan. And it being quite a sticky lump a board well floured with extra mochi flour is definitely a must.
I had flattened and stretched it out by hand at first but later resorted to using a rolling pin, well floured, and it worked quite well giving a more even and smooth surface that would not have been possible if done by hand.
A pizza cutter is indispensible here. A pizza cutter where the blade has been put under a running tap and shaken to get rid of excess water. It cut beautifully with hardly any sticking at all. Let the cut dough rest to allow it to cool down for a bout 5 to 10 minutes before wrapping the balls of ganache in it.
With the infamous heat and humidity of the tropics ganache is not the ideal thing to be rolling around in the palms of your hands in the middle of the afternoon with the blazing sun to keep you company. Try making it in the morning or in the evening after dinner when its cooler.
Nothing could be simpler than making ganache apart from the eating of it. For truffles a firmer ganache is necessary with a larger proportion of chocolate to cream and a couple of knobs of butter. Divina's recipe is perfect.
After chilling them in the fridge it became a firm mass which I then scooped chunks off using 2 teaspoons and shaped them into rough 1/2 inch diameter balls (using the teaspoons). I chilled them again (overnight because I had made them after dinner) and the next morning I simply rolled the very hard, firm little devils around in my hands and they became perfect little rounds without melting or sticking to my palms much (because they were quite quite cold). I chilled them again while I rolled out the dough.
By the time the dough was cut and allowed to cool wrapping the ganache balls were quite easy. And where Divina had used pure cocoa powder to coat I used a combination of cocoa powder, cinnamon and some castor sugar to cut down on some the bitterness of the cocoa which my children did not quite like but which I, on the other hand, loved.
250 gm chocolate
1/2 cup of heavy or double cream
2 T unsalted butter
2 T rum (optional) I did not use this
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cocoa for dusting
The mochi dough............
1 cup mochi or glutinous rice flour or pulut
1/4 cup raw sugar or white sugar (I used white)
2/3 cup water (Iused 1/2 cup) dependingon your flour quality
Making the ganache.....
Using a bread knife cut the chocolates into shreds or small pieces. Put into a medium bowl. Put in the butter and cut the butter into smallish pieces. Heat the cream in a small pot until it just comes to a boil and then immediately pour the cream over the chocolate and butter pieces stirring immediately with a whisk until the mixture is smooth and free of lumps. If you find it still a little lumpy and the mixture has cooled down so that you can't smoothen the mixture any further you can dissolve the lumps by placing the bowl over a pan of very hot water and stirring until the lumps disappear.
Place the ganache in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes until cold and firm.
Shaping the ganache........
Prepare a tray lined with parchment paper and the cocoa powder in a small bowl just in case you need it to prevent stickiness. Scoop out a teaspoonful of ganache at a time and shape into a rough round using the teaspoons. I did not use my hands at this point because I found it to be messy and sticky.
When at least 16 rounds have been made place the ganache rounds in the refrigerator again and let them chill and firm up for about 30 minutes or in my case I let them sit overnight. Once the balls have hardened take them out and roll them, one by one, between your palms until you get smooth balls. If you live in a cooler clime you may be able to roll them smooth in one step thus omitting the second refrigeration above.
Place the ganache balls in the refrigerator while you make the dough.
Making the mochi dough...........
Place the flour and sugar in a small pot. Add water while stirring with a whisk and mix until smooth. Place over a medium heat and keep stirring until the mixture cooks and becomes a very thick paste......(never for a moment take your eyes of this little mass because it thickens up VERY quickly)........ so thick that you find it hard to stir any furhter.
Take it off the heat and using a wet spatula scoop it out of the pot into a small heatproof bowl, place the bowl in a steamer, cover with a dishcloth and steam for at least 15 or 20 minutes until the dough becomes translucent.
Using a wet spatula again, scoop it out of the bowl onto a mochi floured surface. Flour the top of the dough as well and flatten out the dough with your hands first. Be careful because the dough will be hot. Use a rolling pin (floured well) and roll out the dough to a smooth sheet about 1/4 inch thick. Cut with a pizza cutter (wet the blade first) into 16 squares. Let the dough rest to cool for 5 to 10 minutes.
Not quite squares when I did it ...............
So I snipped the ends off a little..............
Making the truffles............
Place a ganache ball in the centre of the dough square, bring up the corners and pinch to seal. Roll in the palms of your hand to make it a smooth round.
Dip in pure cocoa powder or a combination of cocoa, cinnamon and sugar like I did. Place in paper cases. YUM. Enjoy.
PS : The combination of cinnamon and sugar and cocoa added a slightly sweeter edge to the truffles.
As decadent as it may look and sound, and it is, you may be pleasantly surprised that the truffles were not at all overly sweet. It was a sweetness that was subtle and delicate. So delicate that my second daughter who is not inclined to sweet foods actually loved it and asked for more. But it is decadent in its texture and feel.
Like the feeling of love inside of your heart :)