A Happy Thanksgiving to everyone! It’s an odd Thanksgiving for me this year, not because we are out of the country (visiting friends in London), but because we aren’t in our usual Thanksgiving week destination: Whistler, BC. For the past something like 9 years, Cameron and I have had a tradition of going up for Whistler’s opening day. But, rather than being hip deep in snow this week (Whistler’s already broken the November snowfall record!), it’s blue skies, a trip to the Tower of London, and a pint in a pub.
But, before I do, I’ll leave you to the fourth installment of my week of truffles (all of which I made before we left on our trip, BTW) for Sugar High Friday’s Truffle Edition: Pumpkin and Dark Chocolate. This was the first truffle I thought of when started concocting my truffle list given the proximity to the Thanksgiving Holiday. Every recipe I found online had vanilla wafers (not that there is anything wrong with that) but it wasn’t the smooth, creamy almost liquid center I was hoping for. So, I really played this one out by ear… feeling my away around how thick to make the pumpkin centers, realizing that just chilling the puree wasn’t making it solid enough to scoop into truffle form and landing on the idea of freezing it first. The truffles tasted fantastic, and the centers were just on the side of being a foamy liquid… a wonderful little surprise bite.
On later consideration, I decided that adding white chocolate to the pumpkin puree to make a true ganache would have given them a bit more solidity without spoiling the overall flavor or texture, and would have been considerably easier to work with.
Finally, since I was starting to get a lot of truffles that looked all the same, I decided to top these off with seeds from the pumpkin. Following the basic principal for toasting pumpkin seeds that I had read on Heidi’s blog, I decided to go with a mixture of cocoa, cinnamon and sugar. One little seed to top each, and a bowl-full to munch on as I worked.
Dark Chocolate & Pumpkin
(roughly adapted from The Sweet Life by Kate Zukerman)
Makes 8 to 10 truffles
2oz dark chocolate (~70% cacao)
1/4 cup cooked sugar pumpkin mash (best to use fresh, but canned will do)
1/8 cup heavy cream
a pinch ground cardamom
1/2 t butter (at room temperature)
cocoa-dusted pumpkin seeds (see below)
To make the pumpkin “ganache,” combine the pumpkin puree, cream in a heavy bottom pot over medium heat. Add sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg and cardamom, a little at a time, to taste. Continue to stir over medium heat until the mixture almost boils and starts to thicken some. Remove from heat, and let it cool to room temperature. Then, cover, and freeze for about 30 minutes. The mixture should be firm, but still pliable.
When the ganache is cooled, remove it from the freezer. Have a plate ready as well as a bowl of hot water and a melon baller. Dip the melon baller in the hot water, then quickly dry with a dish towel, and press it into the ganache. Turn the baller 360 degrees to form a ball, then tap the baller to force the ganache ball out. I found that hitting it against the side of the bowl worked best. Then, very carefully, move the ball to the plate. Repeat with the rest of the ganache. Cover the balls, and freeze again for at least 30 minutes, or until the balls of pumpkin puree are firm enough to be handled without mushing.
To make the chocolate coating, heat the double boiler as you did with the ganache (make sure you wash it out and dry it very well first!). Add 2/3rds of the remaining chocolate and stir with the spatula until it’s well melted and smooth. Remove from the heat and add the remaining 1/3 of chocolate, and stir until it has melted. This should start quickly dropping the temperature of the chocolate, and give it a “seed” to help it temper properly. It will probably take about 15 minutes for the chocolate to cooled to the right temperature to proceed. According to the books I’ve ready, you want it to be about 87F, although I’m not exactly sure what temperature mine was when I started dipping. Again, I went by the touch method. Make sure your room isn’t too hot… ideally it will be 72F or less.
Once the chocolate has cooled, you can start the dipping. Remove the ganache balls from the freezer. Pick up a ganache ball, and roll it in the melted chocolate, and place it onto a plate, topping with a single pumpkin seed while the chocolate is still wet (if it dries too quickly, just add a little dot of melted chocolate to the top and quickly drop on a seed. Then proceed with the remaining ganache balls. They should firm up almost immediately and be ready to eat.
Cocoa Dusted Pumpkin Seeds
1/2 cup of pumpkin seeds, cleaned
1 egg white
1 T sugar (plus more for sprinkling)
1 t cocoa powder (plus more for sprinkling)
1/2 t cinnamon
a dash of salt
Combine the cinnamon, sugar, cocoa and salt in a small bowl.
Whisk the egg white until good and frothy. Mix in the pumpkin seeds and stir to coat. Strain of any excess egg white and transfer the pumpkin seeds to the bowl with the cocoa mixture. Stir to coat.
Spread the pumpkin seeds out on a parchment lined baking sheet, and sprinkle on a big more cocoa powder and sugar. Bake at 375F for about 10-15 minutes or until the seeds are golden.
Allow to cool about 5 minutes before serving. You might need to break up little clusters if they have formed.