We rang in the New Years in Pau, in the southwest of France, visiting Arnoud's little sister and her boyfriend, and I have a couple of recommendations for you if you ever come to Pau: eat all the cheese and chocolate you can get your hands on and make sure you're breastfeeding because you are going to need that additional caloric allowance.
Marianne and Seb, our hosts, like to cook even more than we do and made us a spectacular New Years Eve feast of Jerusalem artichoke and arugula soup followed by spinach and roasted tomato cannelloni with homemade (swoon!) noodles. The finish was these beautifully simple chocolate and champagne truffles with a heavy dusting of cocoa. The recipes are from Ottolenghi: The Cookbook and I'm having some serious cookbook envy for this one.
The truffles are rich and decadent but still have a delicate flavor from the addition of champagne. They have a soft center surrounded by a thin layer of chocolate that offers a slight crunch when you bite into them. If you have some leftover champagne from last night, whip these up today and relish the beginning of 2010.
adapted from Ottolenghi: The Cookbook
Feel free to use inexpensive champagne here but splurge on the chocolate, at least 60% cacao for the dark chocolate.
for the truffles
2 ounces milk chocolate, chopped into small pieces
7 ounces dark chocolate, chopped into small pieces
1/2 cup plus 3 Tablespoons butter, cut into pieces
1/3 cup champagne
2 1/2 Tablespoons brandy
5 ounces dark chocolate, for coating
cocoa powder for dusting
1. Cover an 8x8 inch square pan with plastic wrap.
2. Place first two ingredients into a heatproof bowl large enough to accommodate all ingredients. Warm the chocolate in a microwave or over a pan of simmering water, stirring periodically with a rubber spatula, until it is semi-melted. Be careful not to burn the chocolate.
3. Pour the champagne and brandy into a small saucepan and heat until hot but not boiling, about 175 degrees Fahrenheit.
4. Add the champagne mixture to the chocolate and stir until it melts completely.
5. Stir in the butter in a few additions and continue stirring until the mixture is smooth.
6. Pour into the prepared pan and chill until it has set, at least 3 hours.
1. Melt the chocolate for coating in the microwave or over a pan of simmering water. Dump the cocoa onto a flat plate.
2. Turn the chilled chocolate out of the pan onto a sheet of parchment paper on your workspace, remove the plastic wrap. Cut the chocolate into squares (1 to 2 inches per side) using a sharp, long knife. Clean the knife in hot water after every cut.
3. Use a skewer or fork to pick up one chocolate square and dip it into the melted chocolate. Wipe off any excess on the edge of the bowl, quickly roll the square in the cocoa powder, and place on a clean tray. Repeat with remaining squares.
4. Allow the chocolates to set in the fridge but bring them to room temperature before serving.