I went to last weekend’s Temple Bar Chocolate Festival for the chocolate, but was utterly charmed by the chocolatiers – a whole lot of people demonstrating a whole lot of dedication to the cause of cacao.
The enthusiasm of Gillian Walsh, for example, who blogs at Some Say Cocoa, Some Say Cacao, had lead to her conducting a truffle-making class as part of the festival. This was truffle-making 101, aimed at those whose experience ran to eating, rather than making, chocolate truffles. Perfect for me, in other words, and I was more than happy to discover that truffle-making doesn’t have to be at all complicated.
The rest of my festival experience was composed, I would say, of equal parts listening and tasting.
Listening, for example, to Jamie and Beatrice from ChocOneill, who described their pursuit of single origin and single plantation cocoa beans, followed by a tasting of the flavours in their delicate plantation chocolates. It was an experience that would make anyone think twice about reverting to mass-produced faux-chocolate confections.
The same can be said of listening to Willie Harcourt-Cooze, who gave a hugely entertaining presentation on his own particular journey from cocoa bean to chocolate bar. A man obsessed by chocolate and with a singular determination to educate the public palate in the matter of cacao, it was fascinating to taste the fermented cocoa beans, cocoa nibs and, finally, the resulting 100% cacao in his Venezuelan Rio Caribe bar. It was a pleasure to later taste a truffle made by Mary Teehan (aka The Truffle Fairy), which was coated and filled using some of Willie’s 100% cacao.
There was, of course, plenty of scope for festival-goers to pursue their own cacao nirvana at Sunday’s Chocolate Fair, with a high quality assortment of Ireland’s artisan chocolatiers in attendance. My first port of call was Karola and Maitiú Ó Conaill, who have been making fine couverture chocolate in Cork for 30 years. An absolute pleasure to talk to, they have seen the Irish, a nation with an established taste for Cadbury’s milk chocolate, develop much more of a liking for fine dark chocolate in recent years – to the point where their 100% cacao bar is actually one of their best sellers. Meanwhile, with their dark cherry and vanilla 70% bar, Patricia from Wilde Irish Chocolates hopes to satisfy not only the demand for dark chocolate, but the appetite for chocolate that is organic and fairly traded.
As for me, even if my aim had only been to accumulate a stash of fine chocolate, then I succeeded in spades, with samples secured from all of the chocolatiers mentioned and more besides – I also count goodies from Lorge Chocolatier, Áines Chocolates and The Chocolate Garden as part of my haul. More than that, though, I know who to chase down in future when I want to get my hands on the good stuff and I guess, by now, that you do too.
Turkish Delight Chocolate Truffles
These were my favourite of the truffles from Gillian’s truffle-making workshop. There are really only 2 requirements here – one is that you like the chocolate that you’re going to use for the truffles (when I was trying these at home I used some Ó Conaill’s 35% milk chocolate, which is very fine indeed). The other is that you like the taste of Turkish delight, which comes from the addition of rose water.
Gillian also notes that the ratio of cream to chocolate should be used as a starting point, as the consistency of the chocolate + cream ganache will vary, depending on the actual chocolate used, so if you find that you’d prefer a softer truffle, increase the amount of cream or, for a firmer truffle, increase the amount of chocolate.
- 150g milk chocolate, finely chopped
- 90ml single cream
- 1 tsp rose water
- 6tblsp dessicated coconut
You’ll also need:
- Not absolutely essential, but it’s nice to have little individual paper cases in which to serve the truffles
- Place the chopped chocolate in a bowl
- Heat the cream to just boiling, either in a small heavy saucepan set over a medium heat, or using a microwave, and pour over the chocolate pieces.
- Allow this mixture to sit for 1-2 minutes while the cream melts the chocolate and resist the temptation to stir it straightaway.
- Now gently stir until smooth. If the chocolate has not completely melted, you can finish the melting process with 10 second bursts in a microwave on medium power, stirring between each 10 second burst
- Stir in the rose water and leave the mixture to rest at room temperature for approx. 24 hours or for 4 hours in the fridge, so that the mixture solidifies enough to allow scooping.
- When the chocolate has rested and you are ready to make the truffles, place the coconut in a small bowl. Scoop small spoonfuls of the chocolate, roll into a ball between the palms of your hands and then roll in the coconut.
- Store in the fridge in an airtight container but remove about 10 minutes before serving (or not, if you can’t bear to wait). They should keep for up to 7 days, though I would imagine that the chances of them lasting that long are approximately slim to none.
- The variations are pretty much endless in terms of the flavourings you can add and the coatings you can use – Baileys truffle rolled in cocoa powder anyone?
- Makes about 40 lil’ truffles
And another thing…
It would be remiss of me not to congratulate the winners of the competition that we ran in conjunction with the Chocolate Festival. Kate O’Connor and Deirdre Ní Dheá won tickets to the Willie Harcourt-Cooze talk, which I hope they enjoyed as much as I did, while Raluca Gherghe and Kate Walsh won copies of what I’m sure will be the equally enjoyable Willie’s Chocolate Factory Cookbook. Well done all.