Chocolate Truffles

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You can never have too much chocolate, so here is a simple, tasty recipe for making your own truffles.  I tried out three coating ingredients, cocoa powder (top two rows in photo), cinnamon sugar (third row), and powdered sugar (bottom row), and decided that the cocoa powder works best.  It coats the chocolate ganache the most evenly and easily, unlike powdered sugar, which tends to clump.  The cinnamon sugar adds an interesting kick to the truffles, but if the ganache is too soft, it will keep getting absorbed into the chocolate as you shape the truffles.

Original recipe

 

Chocolate Truffles
From The New York Times

Yield: 24 truffles

  • 7/8 cup heavy cream
  • 8 oz good quality bittersweet chocolate, chopped finely (otherwise it won’t dissolve completely in the heavy cream)
  • Coating ingredient(s): unsweetened cocoa powder, cinnamon sugar, and/or powdered sugar for coating truffles (about 1 heaping spoonful of each)

 

  1. Heat cream in a pot until it steams.
  2. Put chocolate in a bowl, pour hot cream on top, and stir until chocolate is melted and incorporated into cream.  (This is the ganache.)
  3. Cover bowl of ganache and chill in refrigerator until solid all the way through, 1 to 2 hours.
  4. Prepare desired coating ingredient(s), placing each in its own small bowl.
  5. Using a chilled melon baller or latex gloves to prevent the ganache from melting or sticking to your hands, scoop out about a tablespoonful and drop it into a bowl of coating ingredient.  (I didn’t have either, so I just resigned myself to sticky hands.)
  6. Sprinkle coating ingredient over ganache and quickly roll it into a ball with your fingertips.
  7. Repeat, lining truffles on a plate or a baking sheet.  If truffles become too soft to handle, place them in refrigerator or freezer for a few minutes.
  8. Serve immediately or store, wrapped in plastic, in refrigerator for up to 4 days.
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Mochi Balls with Red Bean Filling

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Unlike the mochi balls with black sesame filling and crushed peanut coating, this is a more conventional recipe with a red bean filling, which I personally prefer.  You can find cans of red bean paste in Asian supermarkets, such as Ranch 99.

To make the mochi, I use a Tatung rice cooker in which you put water in both an outer pot and an inner pot.  You can improvise this arrangement on the stove: Set a wire rack or an upside-down bowl in a large pot of water.  Place whatever ingredients you’re steaming in another bowl and set it on top of the rack or the upside-down bowl to keep it out of the water.  Cover pot with a lid and bring water to a boil.

 

Mochi Balls with Red Bean Filling
From the World Journal

Yield: about 24 mochi balls

  • 1 1/2 cups (2 rice cooker cups) sticky rice flour
  • 3/4 cup (1 rice cooker cup) sugar
  • 1 1/8 cup (1 1/2 rice cooker cups) water
  • 1 can red bean paste
  • Corn starch OR tapioca starch, for dusting work surface and outside of mochi balls

 

  1. In either the inner pot of the rice cooker or a bowl that you will steam on the stove, stir together sticky rice flour and sugar.
  2. Add water and mix well.  Make sure there are no small pockets of flour left.
  3. Steam mixture.
    • If using the rice cooker, place inner pot into the rice cooker and add 1 rice cooker cup of water to the outer pot.
    • If cooking on the stove, steam for about 30 minutes.
  4. While the mochi mixture is still hot, begin to shape the mochi balls.  Work quickly, because the mochi becomes harder to handle when it cools.
  5. Spoon out a small portion of mochi (about 2 tablespoons) and flatten it on the work surface.  Dusting it lightly with corn OR tapioca starch makes it easier to handle, but too much will make it difficult to seal the edges later.  (It’s not a very delicate recipe, so just experiment until you find an amount that works for you.)
  6. Place about 1 teaspoon of red bean paste in the center.
  7. Pinch the edges of the mochi together, pick up the ball, and roll it in the bowl of cornstarch so it’s no longer very sticky.  Don’t worry if the mochi ball sticks to the work surface and you have to scrape it off, or if the mochi stretches and breaks.  Just pinch the edges back together.
  8. Roll the mochi ball gently between your palms to make it round and set it aside on a serving platter.
  9. Cover mochi balls until ready to serve, so they don’t dry out and harden.
  10. If desired, the mochi balls can be frozen for later.

Mochi Balls with Sesame Filling and Crushed Peanuts

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One of my friends fell in love with some peanut-coated, black sesame paste mochi balls at a restaurant, so we decided to recreate them.  For a more conventional recipe, you can use a red bean filling.

To make the mochi, I use a Tatung rice cooker in which you put water in both an outer pot and an inner pot.  You can improvise this arrangement on the stove: Set a wire rack or an upside-down bowl in a large pot of water.  Place whatever ingredients you’re steaming in another bowl and set it on top of the rack or the upside-down bowl to keep it out of the water.  Cover pot with a lid and bring water to a boil.

Original recipe for black sesame paste

Mochi Balls with Sesame Filling and Crushed Peanuts
Adapted from the World Journal and Just One Cookbook

Yield: about 24 mochi balls

  • 1 1/2 cups (2 rice cooker cups) sticky rice flour
  • 3/4 cup (1 rice cooker cup) sugar
  • 1 1/8 cup (1 1/2 rice cooker cups) water
  • 1/2 cup roasted black sesame seeds
  • 6-7 tablespoons honey
  • 1/2 cup unsalted, roasted peanuts (optional)
  • corn starch OR tapioca starch, for dusting work surface and outside of mochi balls (if not using peanuts)
  1. In either the inner pot of the rice cooker or a bowl that you will steam on the stove, stir together sticky rice flour and sugar.
  2. Add water and mix well.  Make sure there are no small pockets of flour left.
  3. Steam mixture.
    • If using the rice cooker, place inner pot into the rice cooker and add 1 rice cooker cup of water to the outer pot.
    • If cooking on the stove, steam for about 30 minutes.
  4. While the mochi is cooking, grind sesame seeds using a food processor or with a mortar and pestle.  Grind them until they release their oil and become moist.  They will smell very fragrant.
  5. Transfer ground sesame seeds to a small bowl and add honey.  Stir together until they form a thick paste.
  6. Using the mortar and pestle, crush the peanuts into small bits and place them in another small bowl.
  7. Dust a work surface and your hands with corn OR tapioca starch.  If you’re not using peanuts, place some corn OR tapioca starch in a small bowl.
  8. While the mochi mixture is still hot, begin to shape the mochi balls.  Work quickly, because the mochi becomes harder to handle when it cools.
  9. Spoon out a small portion of mochi (about 2 tablespoons) and flatten it on the work surface.  Dusting it lightly with corn OR tapioca starch makes it easier to handle, but too much will make it difficult to seal the edges later.  (It’s not a very delicate recipe, so just experiment until you find an amount that works for you.)
  10. Place about 1 teaspoon of sesame paste in the center.
  11. Pinch the edges of the mochi together, pick up the ball, and roll it in the bowl of peanut bits OR corn OR tapioca starch so it’s no longer sticky.  Don’t worry if the mochi ball sticks to the work surface and you have to scrape it off, or if the mochi stretches and breaks.  Just pinch the edges back together.
  12. Roll the mochi ball gently between your palms to make it round and set it aside on a serving platter.
  13. Cover mochi balls until ready to serve, so they don’t dry out and harden.

Orange Brownies

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The New York Times recipe’s name for these brownies is “supernatural,” and after tasting them, I’m inclined to agree!  The addition of orange zest is my own touch, but I happen to love the combination of chocolate and orange in chocolate bars, so why not orange-flavored brownies?

Update: I discovered that if you drizzle key lime cream cheese glaze over these brownies, they become even more delicious.

Original recipe

Orange Brownies
Adapted from Julia Moskin in the New York TImes

Yield: 15 large or 24 small brownies

  • 16 tablespoons (2 sticks) butter, more for pan and parchment paper
  • 8 ounces bittersweet chocolate
  • 1 cup dark brown sugar (such as muscovado) OR 1 cup granulated sugar+generous dollop of molasses
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 cup gluten-free OR all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons citrus zest (I used the zest from 2 cuties, but an orange or even a lemon should be fine)
  • ½ cup chopped walnuts OR 3/4 cup whole walnuts (optional)
  1. Preheat oven to 350ºF.  Butter a 9″ x 13″ baking pan and line with buttered parchment paper.
  2. In the top of a double boiler set over barely simmering water, or on low power in a microwave, melt butter, chocolate, and sugars together.  (Actually, I melted everything together in a small non-stick pot over very low heat, but that runs the risk of burning the chocolate.)  If using just granulated sugar plus molasses, you’ll add the molasses in a later step.  Don’t worry if the mixture looks somewhat grainy at this stage.
  3. Cool mixture slightly.
  4. While it’s cooling, whisk eggs in a large bowl or mixer.  Whisk in molasses, if using.
  5. Whisk in salt and vanilla.
  6. Whisk in chocolate mixture and stir in zest.
  7. Fold in flour just until combined.  (Don’t worry about over-mixing if you’re using gluten-free flour.)  If using chopped walnuts, stir them in.
  8. Pour batter into prepared pan.  If using whole walnuts, arrange on top of batter.
  9. Bake 35-40 minutes, or until shiny and beginning to crack on top.
  10. Cool in pan on rack.  The brownies will be a lot easier to cut and handle if you cool them completely first.  Of course, they also taste great warm if you don’t mind using a spoon to help scoop out portions!