Saturday, February 18, 2012

Chocolate Truffle Croquembouche

Valentine's Day means chocolate and I have stuffed myself with chocolate all week long.  My Valentine gave me a large bag of my favorite chocolate candies, those lovely little candy-coated jewels that "melt in your mouth, not in your hand".  But, I'm rationing out a daily portion to make them last as long as possible. 

Years ago, I found one of the loveliest chocolate creations ever ... this Chocolate Truffle Croquembouche (say that three times really fast) from a 1991 issue of Bon Appetit and have made it for several wedding receptions and wedding anniversary events.  It is quite involved, but the results make an elegant centerpiece for those important celebrations.


1 cup plus 2 tablespoons whipping cream
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter
2 1/4 pounds bittersweet (not unsweetened) or semisweet chocolate, chopped
3/4 cup sour cream
6 tablespoons orange liqueur
1 1/2 tablespoons grated orange peel
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1 1/2 cups unsweetened cocoa powder

Bring cream and butter to a boil in a large heavy saucepan.  Reduce heat to medium, stirring until butter completely melts.  Add chocolate and whisk until melted and smooth.  Remove from heat.  Whisk in sour cream, liqueur and orange peel.  Pour into a 9x13-inch baking dish and refrigerate about one hour or until firm. 

Line four large cookie sheets with foil; sift powdered sugar onto two sheets and sift cocoa powder onto the remaining two.  Using a 3/4-ounce ice cream scoop (1 1/2 tablespoons), scoop the truffle mixture into balls and place on cookie sheets, about 28 on a sugar-coated sheet and 28 on a cocoa-dusted sheet.  Repeat with a 1/4-ounce ice cream scoop (1 1/2 teaspoons) forming 10 truffles on a sugar-dusted sheet and 10 truffles on a cocoa-dusted sheet.  Freeze truffles 10 minutes.

Roll each truffle on sugar-dusted sheet, then roll in hands until smooth and round.  Place on a clean cookie sheet.  Repeat with truffles on cocoa-dusted sheets and place on the clean cookie sheet.  Freeze one hour.


1 3/4 pounds imported white chocolate, chopped
1 1/2 pounds bittersweet (not unsweetened) chocolate, chopped
Candied violets - optional (I used a small amount of royal icing and piped on flowers)

Line two cookie sheets with foil.  Melt white chocolate in top of a double boiler over simmering water, stirring until candy thermometer registers 115 degrees.  Remove from water.  Dip a sugar-coated truffle in melted chocolate using a fork, and tap gently on side of pan to remove excess.  Use a knife and slide onto clean cookie sheet.  Wipe fork clean and repeat with remaining sugar-coated truffles.  Freeze 15 minutes.  Reheat white chocolate and double dip each truffle.

Melt bittersweet chocolate in the same manner.  Using the back of a spoon, do a quick drizzle over the white truffles in a zigzag pattern, then refrigerate.

Line two more cookie sheets with foil.  Use the same dipping method with each of the cocoa-covered truffles in the melted bittersweet chocolate.  Only one dip is necessary for these. If using the candied violets, mmediately place one on top.  Refrigerate truffles one hour.  Save excess bittersweet chocolate.  If you pipe your own flowers, do so after the truffles have chilled.


1 12-inch tall styrofoam cone
remaining bittersweet chocolate
wax paper
rose leaves and miniature white roses

Reheat bittersweet chocolate.  Brush several stripes of chocolate on styrofoam cone and wrap cone in wax paper, covering completely and pressing to adhere to chocolate.  Using toothpicks attach truffles, starting at bottom of cone with the larger truffles, alternating white and dark in a spiral pattern.  Finish with smaller truffles beginning about four inches from top of cone.  Press rose leaves randomly between truffles, filling in any gaps.  Press toothpicks into roses and attach to leaves between truffles.  Any extra truffles can be placed on serving tray around the base of the cone.

WHEW!!!  I said it was quite involved.  In fact, just set a day aside for the process unless you want to make the truffles ahead of time, which you can do ... as much as three weeks ahead if you like.  And you will like, or rather, you will LOVE these truffles.  Hope you had a wonderful Valentine's Day!  

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Tuesday, February 7, 2012

It suits him to a Tee!

We're still birthday-ing at our house.  Today is my husband's birthday.  And it's one of those decade-noteworthy events that call for a special gift.  Because of that I haven't spent much time in the kitchen ... any free moments I've found have been spent upstairs in my new sewing room.  My husband and son used several days of their school fall break last October to strip wallpaper and repaint my room and I'm just now beginning to get things in order.  Got the machine set up, found a good worktable at a reasonable price, a couple of bookcases and now just have to reclaim my sewing paraphernalia and supplies from the attic after giving up my corner in the bonus room a few years ago.

It's only fitting that the first project in my new room was for his birthday.  Over the years he has accumulated a collection of t-shirts from marching band and show choir days in high school, community theater, and children and youth choir programs, so I decided to convert them into a t-shirt quilt. 

I've never made a t-shirt quilt until now ... I've never made a quilt of any kind until now, so I did a good bit of research online and consulted with a co-worker who is an accomplished quilter before deciding I was up to the task.  There's been a great deal of hiding and sneaking around trying to catch him out of the house so I could work.  There's also been quite a few nights of burning the midnight oil after he went to bed.  Many thanks to son Jonathan also for helping his tired Momma.  I just wish I had thought of this gift idea much sooner than I did so I wouldn't have had to work at such a frantic pace.  I'm pooped, but mission is accomplished!!  

Quilt top is finished and ready for him to pick out the border and backing fabric, which I knew he would want to do.  I'm quite pleased with the result but more importantly, so is he ... Happy Birthday, Dear!

This post has been linked to "Trick or Treat Tuesdays" and