It's candy time. Generally, I save candy making for Christmas, but who says you can't make it all year round? I made two kinds this week: walnut truffles (right) and chocolate marzipan truffles (left). The walnut truffles are fabulous, and you could substitute any kind of nuts. The recipe actually calls for pistachios, but I don' t generally buy unsalted pistachios. The salted ones are just so much better for snacking.
4 oz. bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
1/3 cup heavy cream
2 tbsp. unsalted butter, cut into pieces
1 tbsp. sour cream
1/4 tsp. vanilla extract
Pinch of salt
1 cup medium-fine chopped walnuts
In a double boiler, combine the chopped chocolate and cream. Set over barely simmering water and melt the chocolate, then whisk until the mixture is glossy and smooth. Remove from the heat and let cool to lukewarm, about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the butter pieces, stirring until smooth and well blended. Add the sour cream, vanilla, and salt and stir until blended. Let cool, stirring occasionally, about 40 minutes.
Line a small baking sheet with parchment paper. Fit a pastry bag with a 1/2-inch plain tip. Fill the pastry bag with the chocolate mixture and pipe into 1-inch mounds onto baking sheet. Freeze the truffles until very firm. Roll each truffle in the nuts, pressing to coat. The truffles should be served slightly chilled. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.
3 cups blanched almonds
2 1/2 cups powdered sugar
3 2/3 cups sugar
1/2 cup light corn syrup
1/2 cup water
2 tsp. almond extract
Combine blanched almonds and powdered sugar in a food processor and process until the nuts are very finely ground. Combine the sugar, corn syrup, and water in a heavy saucepan. Stir over low heat with a wooden spoon until the sugar is dissolved. Brush down the sides of the pan with a pastry brush dipped in warm water. Increase the heat to medium, place a warmed candy thermometer in the pan, and cook, without stirring, until it reaches 244F, firm ball. Remove from the heat, turn on the food processor, and immediately pour the sugar syrup through the feed tube in to the almond mixture. Grind to a fine paste and then add almond extract.
Lightly coat a medium bowl with spray and remove the paste to the bowl. Place a damp towel over the top and let cool. Shape into 1-inch balls and place on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Cover with tempered dipping chocolate and allow to set on the baking sheet.
Make sure to calibrate your thermometer. I calibrated mine, but I still ended up overcooking the sugar syrup. I thought it would be done at 238F, but I guess it was too long and my marzipan didn't turn out perfectly. It still tastes fine, but it was a little stiffer and drier than it should have been. All in all, both truffles make great little treats right from the freezer.