Saturday, December 30, 2006

Christmas Baking Part 1 - Christmas Baking makes for good gifts

Christmas    goodies box

I decided this year that I would put my new baking skills to good use and make some of my favourite cookies and chocolate as christmas gifts. Not because I'm too lazy to think of what to get them, just because I thought that it would be a more personal gift from me not to mention to share with them my love of baking.

I had this idea that I would pack them all up in takeaway noodle boxes with a bit of coloured paper and some nice ribbons. It was simple, quick and cute. :)

Xmas Gifts Boxes

The big boxes would be filled with some pistachio biscuits and some Lime and Honey chocolate truffles;

Big boxes w/ Pistachio cookies

whilst the little boxes would just be filled with the chocolate truffles.

Little boxes w/ Lime and Honey Truffles

Dark Chocolate Truffles w/ Lime & Honey
*The Cooks Book, Desserts by Pierre Herme. p.575

For coating:

Finely grated zest of 1/2 lime
120g caster sugar
120g cocoa powder.

Prepare coating in advance (at least 1 day) before it is required.

Combine lime zest and sugar and rub sugar and zest together with the palm of your hands and spread the sugar mixture thinly onto a non stick baking tray. Leave to dry overnight at room temperature.

The following day, mix cocoa powder with the lime sugar.

For ganache:

95g of butter
440g best quality dark chocolate (60 - 70% cocoa)
325ml creme fraiche
zest of 1 lime
50g lime juice
50g acacia honey (I used Manuka Honey)

Cut butter into walnut-sized pieces, place in a bowl and leave to soften to room temperature.

Chop chocolate into small pieces and place in a large bowl.

Bring to boil, creme fraiche and lime zest. Remove from heat, cover and let the zest and creme fraiche to infuse for about 10mins. Return pan to heat and bring it back just to the boil and remove. In another saucepan, pour in lime juice and honey and warm without boiling.

Pour half of the infused boiling cream over the chocolate and stir with a wooden spoon to combine. It is recommended that you mix the chocolate and cream by starting from the centre in small circles, moving outwards. Add the remaining creme and repeat stirring process, then add the lime juice and honey mixture and stir until ganache is smooth.

When ganache is smooth, slowly add the pieces of butter, stirring them gently into the mixture.

At this point, if you have a pipping bag and a No. 9 plain nozzle, you may choose to only refrigerate the ganache for 30mins and then pouring chocolate ganache into a pipping bag and pipe balls of ganache onto a baking tray lined with baking parchment. Then chill piped balls of chocolate for 2 hrs before rolling them in the lime-sugar and cocoa mixture.

Alternatively, you could either:
a) pour ganache into a thin shallow pan lined with baking paper, then refrigerate for 4hrs before cutting up the ganache into squares or

b) refrigerate ganache in the same mixing bowl for 4hrs. After which, you could use a melon baller to scoop up the ganaches into balls or roll ganache balls with your hands.

After preparing balls of ganaches, remember to return to the fridge to chill for at least 2hrs. Then roll ganaches in the cocoa/lime-sugar mixture, place in asieve to remove excess coating and store in the fridge in an air tight container.

Lime and Honey chocolate truffles

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