Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Vanilla Bean Chocolates

Mr. Humble bought me a new cook book! A lovely book on making artisan chocolates. I'm not sure if it was a 'gift' so much as payback for all the pastry I've been making him eat.

He knows I have a weakness for chocolates, one that I usually manage by keeping them out of the house and averting my eyes when I drive past a See's Candy store. Now I'm dealing with the discomfort of stifling the urge to go buy a 10lb block of chocolate because of this new book. One that would lead to a candy making spree and a brand new pants size.

Yea, this is most certainly some sort of payback.

So I've been reading this book and I really like it, not just for the recipes but for the technical information that makes up almost half of the total pages. The book sets you up with the know-how to create beautiful chocolates from your own flavor combinations. See why this is so troublesome for me? I can barely resist the urge to start inventing my own chocolates.

Anyway, I really like the book so I felt it deserved noting on the blog. It covers truffles, molded chocolates and the hand dipped variety. His recipes are modern (woo!) and sound delicious (salted caramel, raspberry-wasabi, ginger crunch). He illustrates several techniques to create, decorate and even how to make your own decorative transfer sheets (double woo!).

Also, he talks about how to avoid mold and spoilage in your truffles, something not discussed nearly enough in home candy making. If you're looking for a single book to get started in chocolate making, this one gets the Humble stamp of approval.

So I tried one of his recipes myself today. I had a surplus of white chocolate and plenty of plump vanilla beans so I selected his recipe for vanilla chocolates.

Vanilla Bean Ganache

Each of the book's chocolate recipes have a rating, from easy to difficult. These vanilla truffles are marked easy and they really are. Best of all they're smooth, creamy and fragrant with vanilla.

Vanilla Bean Chocolates
from Making Artisan Chocolates
Yields roughly 28-30 chocolates

For the Chocolate Shells:
2 pounds (906g) 29 percent white chocolate, tempered

For the vanilla bean ganache:

6.5 ounces (182g) 29 percent white chocolate, chopped
1/3 cup (77g) heavy cream
2 vanilla beans, seeds reserved
1 1/2 tablespoons (21g) salted butter, cubed and soft but not melted

To finish the chocolates:

8 ounces (224g) 29 percent white chocolate

Fill the molds with the tempered white chocolate, giving them a gentle shake to ensure the chocolate is coating evenly. Dump the excess chocolate back into the bowl, giving the mold a few taps with a wooden spoon to help it along.

Lay out a sheet of parchment paper and lay the mold onto it upside down. Once the chocolate has begun to thicken and set, scrape the mold with a chef's knife to remove the excess chocolate.

Return the mold to the parchment and allow to set completely before filling with the ganache.

To make the ganache, place the chopped white chocolate into a heat safe bowl. Heat the cream and vanilla bean seeds over medium heat until it begins to simmer. Remove from heat and cover for 15 minutes so the vanilla can infuse the cream. Place the pan back on the stove and bring to a simmer once again. Immediately pour the cream through a fine sieve into the bowl with the chocolate and allow to stand for 2 minutes.

Stir the mixture until smooth. Allow to cool (about 95°F, still fluid enough to pipe but not so warm that it will melt the molded shells) and then fill a piping bag or plastic baggie with a cut corner and fill the molded shells three-quarters full. Gently tap the mold against the counter to release any air bubbles.

Allow the shells to sit for about 30-60 minutes, until the ganache has cooled and set up.

To finish the chocolates, ladle more of the white chocolate over the mold, scraping off the excess. Allow the chocolates to cool completely and harden before inverting and taping them out of their molds.

(Then eat most of the chocolates all by yourself and send Mr. Humble irate text messages 'thanking' him for the new book.)



  1. where is your favorite place to get white chocolate? (especially labeled with the percentage which I haven't seen on any of the white chocolate I've bought... :-)

  2. Wow, your chocolate is so smooth and shiny I thought they were peeled hard boiled eggs when I first opened up the page! Beautiful.

  3. Oh my that would be a VERY dangerous cookbook!!!!!

  4. Aww, See's Candy...you know we don't get that on the East Coast...

    I miss being a Westerner :(

    That's okay...I'll be there soon for vacay!

    Yours Look delicious.

  5. Usually you don't see the percentages on chocolate because most 'white' chocolate sold in U.S. grocery stores has no cocoa butter in it.

    Where do I get mine? Well from a lot of places actually.

    Sometimes I splurge on it at specialty store. When I need some in a pinch, I'll grab a box of E.Guittard from the baking aisle at the grocery store.

    When I am buying in bulk I either get it from Chef Shop or from my local bakery supply store where I can buy it by the pound.

    It might be hard to find 29% exactly, but really any white chocolate that contains real cocoa butter should work in this recipe.

  6. I'm in Seattle too and actually just bought a 10lbs bar of bittersweet chocolate. I got it a place called Big John's Pacific Food Imports in SODO.

    It was the only place I could find in town that had bottled cherries soak in syrup for a cake I was making, however last time I was there they were didn't have any on the shelves.

    Good place, though their sign is so small that you have to know it's there when you drive by.

  7. I would do the same text-spamming as I ate the chocolates. : ) There are worse gifts...

  8. Lovely!! I've never been too intrigued about making candies, but this has totally piqued my interest. I'd love to make these!!

  9. Nice job, those look great!

    People are always so impressed by truffles and molded chocolates, and they're really easier than most people think (well, except for that pesky tempering thing; I suck at tempering and wound up buying myself a machine).

  10. i have that cook book too!! i know you didnt make ganache but i was wondering...i have the CIA chocolate/candy cook book too and for ganache it says DO NOT use heavy cream...but andrew is a big fan of using heavy cream. i have some ganache that i have setting right now and im not too sure if its right or not...anyway my question is do you have any experience with ganache? and if so what way works for you?

  11. Don't use heavy cream in a ganache? That's strange.

    I always make my ganaches with heavy cream. In fact, my own CIA baking book advises the use of use heavy for the hard/medium/soft ganaches (for cakes and pastry) as well as their truffles.

    I've made lots of ganaches (based on the CIA ratios) always using heavy cream) and have always had good results.

    I would probably lean towards using Andrew's book over the CIA's candy book. Andrew does a few slightly unorthodox things, like using salted butter in his ganache but his results speak for themselves. Very yummy chocolates.


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