I love St. Valentine's Day cards. Isn't this old Whitney Made one beautiful? Inside it says:
I hope 't will reach
This little heart of mine,
I'm throwing out a gentle hint
To catch you, Valentine.
I also love chocolate. In fact, I have been known to daydream about chocolate. I love to make truffles and when I am preparing to make them I indulge in thoughts of what the most rapturous flavor might be. I search for new ideas and dig for exotic spice combinations.
I could simply dive into my own imagination for the seeds of some wonderful ideas, and on a good day that might work out. More often though I could scarcely hope to imagine anything as wonderful as the exotic tastes described on the website for Vosges Haut Chocolat.
I look there for inspiration. Their website is visual poetry. They picture truffles and describe truffles in truly exciting ways. I go to their truffle collections for ideas on how to envision a truffle, present a truffle, eat a truffle, even pair a truffle with wine or music. I click through the truffles individually reading their detailed description, imagining how they would look, feel or taste, what sort of sensation they might inspire. I study that bit of something on the top that makes each truffle unique and suggests what is hidden inside the chocolate ganache center.
So here it is, St. Valentine’s Day, and I want to make something chocolate. I go to Vosges Chocolat and come up with an idea to make truffles laced with the richness of vanilla cream, the exotic depth of cinnamon and the heat of two fiery ground chile peppers. I don't have time to dip them and I don't have the perfect garnish to make them individually gorgeous but I have chocolate and I'm making truffles and I know they'll taste great!
On the whole these are pretty easy to make and are sure to satisfy any craving your valentine might have for something dark and sweet, and with a little bit of fire.
Happy Valentine’s Day!
Vanilla Chile Truffles
6 oz. semi-sweet chocolate (I use Ghiradelli 60% cacao bittersweet chocolate chips)
½ cup cream
half of a vanilla bean
½ teaspoon ground Saigon cinnamon
¼ teaspoon ancho chile powder
¼ teaspoon chipotle chile powder
2 tablespoons cocoa powder
½ teaspoon ground Saigon cinnamon
To prepare the ganache:
Melt chocolate in the top of a double boiler or in a metal bowl over hot, not boiling, water. Set aside.
Place ½ vanilla bean and cream in a small saucepan. Heat over low heat until it begins to boil and is heated through. Remove from heat.
Carefully remove vanilla bean. When it is slightly cooled, split the bean and scrape the seeds into the cream. Discard the hull. Add 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon and the chile powders to the cream. Stir together until mixed. Add the cream mixture to the chocolate and stir or whisk until well combined.
Set the ganache mixture aside until cool and thick, but not hard, approximately two or three hours.
When it is thick, place the ganache in a Ziploc freezer bag. Seal the bag and snip a ½ inch piece from a lower corner of the bag.
Pipe the chocolate ganache mixture onto waxed paper or parchment in teaspoon size dollops. Place in the refrigerator or freezer until very firm, approximately 2 hours.
Place the 2 tablespoons of cocoa powder and ½ teaspoon cinnamon in a shallow bowl and stir until blended. Remove the chocolate from the refrigerator or freezer. Place each dollop in the cocoa powder and then roll it in your hands to form a ball. (This will be messy!)
Place the chocolate ball on a new piece of waxed paper or parchment. When all pieces have been formed into balls, place the chocolate back in the refrigerator until set.
When set, remove the truffles from the refrigerator, and once more, roll the truffle in the cocoa powder mixture.
Place finished truffles in small paper candy cups or on waxed paper in a box or tin. Give as gifts or share with family and friends.
Note:This recipe yields about 30 small truffles. It could easily be doubled or even tripled and still work fine in one batch.