The Daring Bakers were born in 2006 when two bloggers decided to challenge themselves to make the same recipe for pretzels and post about it on the same day. Next thing you know, they were joined by other bloggers until the group grew and grew. Everyone would make the same recipe in a quest to learn something new and post on the same day each month. In 2009 they added The Daring Cooks. These days, The Daring Kitchen is spread worldwide as each month bakers and cooks alike come together to challenge themselves to try something new in the kitchen. This month, they got me!! So each month you’ll get to see what creative challenge they presented to us and how I fared at it.
This month’s challenge was hosted by Lisa of Parsley, Sage, Desserts and Line Drives and Mandy of What the Fruitcake?! They challenged us to try our hand at the art of candy making. I was immediately intrigued because only recently I had just been thinking that I wanted to try making chocolates. What better guidance could I have asked for? The details of the challenge were that we would be required to make one chocolate candy as well as one other candy of our choosing.
I immediately knew which direction I wanted to take when it came to my chocolate candy. The choice was clear… Truffles!! Truffles have to be my very favorite candy in the chocolate category. There’s just something about biting through that crisp chocolate coating into the silky sweet ganache inside. Not to mention the flavor possibilities are absolutely endless.
For the chocolate challenge, Lisa and Mandy kindly did not make tempering the chocolate a requirement although they did point out that this is a great skill to know how to do. However, I decided to fully embrace the project and give myself the challenge of tempering chocolate because that’s why I joined The Daring Bakers… to challenge myself to learn new things! Having now had the experience, I must say kudos to all you candy makers out there. Tempering is the process of slowly heating and cooling chocolate to very precise degrees. The result is a smooth, shiny finish as well as a crisp snap when its broken. These results occur because tempering will actually realign the crystals in the cocoa butter in a uniform way.
For my tempering attempt, I decided to use a method called seeding since I’m not the proud owner of a marble slab which is required for the classic method of tempering. In the seeding method you melt 2/3 of your chocolate, achieve the proper temperature and then slowly cool the chocolate by adding bits of the remaining chocolate. I followed the directions and kept my eye on that thermometer like hawk. I was amazed how quickly the temperature can change! Lesson learned: low and slow is the way to go. I think my heat was too high and at the end my temperature raised past the appropriate working temperature. I hurried to Google and tried to figure out how to remedy my error. In the end, I don’t believe I accomplished properly tempering my chocolate but I’m giving myself points for trying.
The finished chocolate truffles tasted delicious despite my errors in tempering. When I decided on truffles as my candy that was a no-brainer. However, when choosing a flavor profile for my truffles I seemed to lack direction. My problem was that I wanted to go in too many directions! So in true Kate fashion, I decided to make 3 different flavors. Behold! Balsamic truffles, Grand Marnier truffles and last but certainly not least (in fact this was my personal favorite) vanilla bean-clove truffles. There were so many endless possibilities!
Moving on, the second part of this challenge was to make a non-chocolate candy. I chose to make pate de fruit. Pate de fruit are bite-sized pieces of real fruit puree jellies that are then rolled in sugar. When you bite into one, Lisa and Mandy described it like ‘jellied jam’. I couldn’t agree more. The texture is jam-like, and the taste is intensely fruity. You’re basically cooking as much liquid out of the fruit as possible creating a more solidified jam-like creation. Once more, I decided to make two different flavors. The first flavor I chose was raspberry and the second was apricot.
Both these projects were certainly a challenge for me however, I feel accomplished having completed both (mostly) successfully. Perhaps you’ll be inspired by this and decide to challenge yourself to try something new in the kitchen either on your own or perhaps with us over at The Daring Kitchen. Now, I can’t wait to see what the September Daring Bakers’ Challenge will hold!
The August 2011 Daring Bakers’ Challenge was hosted by Lisa of Parsley, Sage, Desserts and Line Drive and Mandy of What the Fruitcake?!. These two sugar mavens challenged us to make sinfully delicious candies! This was a special challenge for the Daring Bakers because the good folks athttp://www.chocoley.com offered an amazing prize for the winner of the most creative and delicious candy!
Truffles Three Ways
Makes approximately 30 truffles
9 oz. very high-quality dark/bittersweet chocolate
2/3 c. heavy cream
2 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 1/2 Tbsp Grand Marnier (or more to taste… don’t exceed 3 Tbsp otherwise the ganache will not set correctly)
1 vanilla bean split length-wise, seeds scraped into cream & 1 Tbsp whole cloves (steep vanilla bean pod, seeds and whole cloves in cream for 1 hour. Strain, reheat cream and proceed with recipe.)
1 pound tempered chocolate for enrobing truffles
– Finely chop or grate the chocolate and place in a heatproof bowl.
– In a saucepan, heat cream until just about to boil. (At this point add the vanilla bean-clove, if using. Steep. If making a different flavor, move on to next step.)
– Pour the warm cream over the chocolate.
– Gently stir the mixture until all the chocolate has melted and it is smooth.
– Allow the ganache to firm up in a container of choice, preferably deep rather than shallow.
– Using a teaspoon or melon baller, scoop up room temperature ganache. With gloved hands, roll the balls between your palms to round them off. Refrigerate for about 20-30 minutes if dipping in chocolate.
– Dip in tempered chocolate or roll in various ingredients like cocoa or chopped nuts.
– Place on parchment paper until set.
Pate de Fruit
I made my Pate de Fruit from two recipes found through Food & Wine. I made no variations. Those recipes can be found by clicking below. Enjoy!