Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Vegan Truffles

For the last two weeks I've been going chocolate crazy. Generally speaking this is a winter problem for me. Every single day, from the end of November until the beginning of April I eat a one hundred gram bar of 70% + chocolate. As a kid I wasn't too gone on chocolate. Hershey's candy bars are horrible. They have a distinct poo smell, honestly they really do, it put me off. My chocolate consumption goes way up during the winter, maybe I need more vitamin D. The weather hasn't been great so maybe I need some sun. A friend of mine told me, her husband is vegan, and trying to impress her, I said that I had a vegan truffle recipe. I did, however, I had completely forgotten it. As a result, I've spent many hours toiling over this recipe. Often desserts that include soy products (other than the milk) taste way too soyish. I have seen other recipes for vegan truffles that use only cocoa powder and agave syrup or cocoa powder and vegan spread and they aren't sinful enough. Truffles are so easy to make, unless you're one of those people who wants to be a home chocolatier, tempering your chocolate etc. The truffle mix or ganache can be used as a yummy frosting on cakes, or you can pipe the ganache into cooked pastry cases for chocolate tarts. I like to have a jam jar filled with ganache in the fridge, when people come over you can set out chopped nuts, coconut, toasted oats, or chocolate powder and everyone can dip spoons full of ganache into whichever coating they like. I'm saying this like I do it the whole time, sometimes I do, more often than not I eat spoonsful of the stuff straight from the fridge.

About six months ago on one of my jaunts to the health food shop I noticed soy cream and soy whipping cream. I go to the health food shop for sort of new age snake oil merchant gear like; Honeygar, that crap. Biweekly I convince myself that something I've read in Heat magazine or in Wikipedia is the answer to what ails me. I find myself at Healthwise up to my elbows in lentils, and the next thing I know I've just spent thirty Euro on soysages and a home sprouting kit. I really love health food junk food So bad for you but you can talk yourself into believing it's healthy, yummy lies!!!!Anyways, I saw the soy cream and bought it. It's really good and truly sinful. I have two different recipes for vegan truffles. All the ingredients should be readily available at the health food shop.

Two Ingredient Truffles

200ml soy whipping cream (Grano Vita make soy whipping cream)

100 grams of 60% + vegan chocolate

Cut open your (room temperature) whipping cream before you start. They can be pretty tricky to open. Chop up the chocolate and melt over a double boiler. When the chocolate is melted take off the heat and add the whipping cream. Stir until mixed. Taste, if the ganache isnt sweet enough you can add some agave syrup or maple syrup to sweeten. Put the mixture into a container and refrigerate for 3+ hours. When the ganache is thick and cold you can spoon it into little balls and cover with whatever you fancy. This recipe is good, however, it is soyish.

Orange and Coffee Vegan Truffles

200 gms Orange vegan chocolate chopped (a few drops of orange oil would suffice if this chocolate is unavailable)

200ml Soy pouring cream (Provamil make soy pouring cream, soy whipping cream should work too) room temp

100gms vegan spread

1-2 shots espresso cooled

Melt chocolate over double boiler. When melted, remove from heat and stirrin cream, espresso, and spread. Refridgerate for three hours+ or until firm.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Spanish Hot Chocolate

I've been craving hot chocolate for the last few days. It's such a winter drink and alas, the weather here in Galway hasn't been great. This Baltic weather has made me pine for the Chocolate Museum in Barcelona. One should never, never, pay to enter the Chocolate Museum.

When mentioned, chocolate museum, for most of us the possibilities are infinite. I imagined the tiredest of scenarios, Willy Wonka's little factory. Because of my inability to think of anything other than that beauty of a factory, I was probably the most upset upon entering. Our pamphlet clearly stated that there were statues, buildings and historical figures made from chocolate. Upon inspection these things could have been made from chocolate, but not recently. They looked as if they were made from cardboard, dust and the mud Native Americans used to build their homes in the desert thousands of years ago. Dermot was enthralled by the dust, the passionless plaques and the durability of the chocolate statues and buildings behind the shiny glass. Everyone else in the one-roomed museum was trying to make the best of it. "We already paid we might as well mill around aimlessly," I imagined they were thinking. The duped moved about assessing each figure and plaque listlessly. They tried to watch the ten minute film, no one could stick it out. Too depressing.... Was it directed by Ingmar Bergman? Whoever it was, had a real knack for sucking the fun out of chocolate. One assumes this special knack was explicitly cited in the wanted adds for jobs linked with the museum. This place was an ode to Chocolate's blue period or perhaps an homage to when Woody Allen stopped being funny. Maybe the curator thought we'd all been laughing at Chocolate for too long. Didn't anyone know Chocolate had a serious side? Didn't we know Chocolate could be molded into Christopher Columbus's head? Didn't we know that Chocolate was a great material to make a diorama with.
No, we didn't.
Dermot and I shuffled out of the museum into the cafe adjacent. On the counter sat this big thing filled with thick chocolaty, gooey unctuousness. I looked at the menu board. It said hot chocolate, I put two and two together. It was the nicest hot chocolate I'd ever had. The cocoa was as dark as ganache and thick like cold pouring cream. I knew Dermot and I would be back the next day for another. It was the Chocolate I knew, the funny Woody Allen, an ode to Picasso's rose period. Frankly, a much happier chocolate. Not depressed like the stuff in the museum and not self-destructive like the Mars Bars Dermot eats. You know, the kind of chocolate that stays up all night doing shots of tequila and picks fights with dudes twice your size and hits on your girlfriend.
This cocoa was the fun stuff.

Spanish Hot Chocolate

1 cup milk or soy if you're like me

2 1/2 oz dark chocolate 70%, or 2 oz bittersweet chocolate (not unsweetened), broken into pieces

2 teaspoons of sugar sugar or the sweetness you prefer

plus 1 1/2 teaspoons cornstarch

Bring milk to the boil. Whisk in cornstarch and sugar and keep whisking until mixture thickens to desired consistency. Take the milk off the heat. Whisk in Chocolate pieces. Serve. If the mixture is a little lumpy sieve and then serve.

Thursday, July 9, 2009


I was at Bentley's on Sunday. It was the only late bar in Limerick that happened to be free in. It was like an airport hotel inside, it should be called Riff Raff's. We were up for a friends birthday which coincided with Indie Week Band Competition. Some other friends had won the previous year, they're called Walter Mitty and the Realists. Anyway, we were all at Bentley's, plus some Canadian band and I was telling everyone about how I had some beetroot during the week and how the day after my life flashed before my eyes when I momentarily thought I had bowel cancer, then realized it was beetroot. Everyone had a red food poo story or similar. Pretty rock 'n' roll. Almost everyone at the table was anti-beetroot. We are so used to pickled beets which are pretty muddy in taste, more akin to bottom feeding fish in flavor than anything worth eating. However, fresh beetroot is a revelation, earthy rather than swampy. Eaten raw, they sing on the salad plate and roasted they ooze sticky sweetness. Just don't forget you've eaten them!