Sunday 13 December 2009

These aren't just *any* chocolate truffles...

No indeed, these are the tragic chocolate truffles that I thought I could make myself.

It all started out so well. I walked in on a Channel 4 programme called Kirstie's Homemade Christmas, where a reassuringly large woman was doing a feature on how to make chocolate truffles. This seemed mostly to involve eating chocolate and saying how nice it was, so I was immediately encouraged that it was something I could do really well.

The large lady explained that you heat up some whipping cream, add a spoon of honey, then melt in lots of grated chocolate and stir it into a yummy-looking goop called a ganache. This should be left overnight to cool and thicken. Resisting the temptation to eat my ganache, I dutifully left it overnight to cool and thicken.

Next day, I did as the not-insubstantial Kirstie had done - donning gloves, dusted in cocoa powder, and making little ball-shaped bits of ganache.

"That looks like a poo!" she had squealed, as she dropped a brown glob onto a tray. I was greatly encouraged to find that my own creations were similarly beautiful.

Now, came the tempering of the chocolate, a mouth-watering process whereby chocolate is melted, then tipped out onto a large marble slab and smoothed to a cool gloss with a palette knife. I had actually bought a granite slab and palette knife especially for this, and found myself daring to dream the chocolatier's dream as I worked away happily...

...but the sweet dreams turned bitter.

On TV, the generously-proportioned presenter took robust, spherical orbs of ganache and dipped them, one by one on a fork, into her tempered chocolate. Sadly, my own ganache resembled a series of unsuccessful bowel movements - flat splats that drooped and oozed off the fork almost immediately. The few that made it to the tempered chocolate simply sank without trace.

And this is where I wonder if I have been duped. Yes, I may need more chocolate and less whipped cream. Yes, I might try cooling the ganache on a larger tray to thicken it more. But no, I do not believe the ganache plops that Kirstie crafted were the same ones she dipped into her chocolate moments later. Who was that smiling chocolatier standing by her side, and were the firm balls perhaps his not hers?

It's academic now, of course. Just when I thought it was safe to come out of culinary retirement, this disaster has set me back another 10 years. In a house where I'm only 3rd best cook if I don't count The Cat, it's best to accept my limitations and play to my strengths. From now on, I'll focus on eating.

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