Champagne. Again.

I am ashamed to admit that I had left over champagne. This has never happened before: I love champagne. I was genuinely perturbed. It was like my belief system had taken a direct hit. Only from friendly fire.

Needing to turn my inner frown upside down- fast- I consulted chapter 3 of the Ottolenghi bible. Champagne chocolates were on the menu.

This is the second recipe I have tried from my Ottolenghi book and I was once again impressed. The recipes are very detailed and it is clear that they have been rigorously researched and tested in the Ottolenghi kitchens. I am itching to launch into an Ottolenghi baking frenzy so that I can try more, but for the moment I lack an excuse.

The chocolates are very easy to make, just requiring a bit of fridge time in order to set. Their texture also distinguishes them from you average homemade truffle: once set, the chocolates are rolled in a layer of melted chocolate, followed by cocoa powder. This solidifies pleasingly into a nobbly, crunchy shell. Inside, the truffle is glossy and soft.

Mine were well received at a dinner party and they make especially good gifts: they don’t contain cream so there are no niggling fears that the recipient will somehow be poisoned if they are not kept properly.

The truffles are gloriously rich and alcoholic (they contain rum, too).

I was very pleased with how these chocolates turned out. Nevertheless, and through no fault of Mr. Ottolenghi, I will be doing my utmost not to make them again. That said, if you find champagne left over in glasses I think you could legitimately use it to make these if you wanted to. The champagne is heated after all, which I suspect would make it hygienic. Maybe I need to take a hygiene class. Or perhaps just get a life.

Top tip: when rolling the chocolates in the melted chocolate and then the cocoa, it’s best to work quickly, even if it means they are not perfectly coated. The chocolates are delicate and over handling can cause them to become a bit melty.

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Melt the ingredients together gently and then leave to set in the fridge.

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The finished product.

Champagne Chocolates

Adapted from Ottolenghi: the cookbook

60g milk chocolate

200g dark chocolate

150g unsalted butter

80ml champagne

40ml brandy

to finish

150g dark chocolate

50g cocoa powder

1. Line a loaf tin with cling film.

2. Break the milk and dark chocolate into squares and place in a heatproof bowl. Heat gently over a saucepan of boiling water until nearly all of the chocolate has melted.

3. Cut the butter into small squares and keep separate.

4. Heat the brandy and champagne in a small saucepan until hot to the touch but not boiling. Pour the alcohol over the melted chocolate and then stir in the butter. Continue stirring until the mixture is smooth and the butter has melted. Pour into the lined tin and chill in the fridge for at least 3 hours.

5. Melt the chocolate for the coating in a bowl over a pan of boiling water. Sift the cocoa powder onto a plate.

6. Turn the chilled chocolate block onto a plate and using a long, sharp knife cut into squares. You can make them whatever size you like but remember that they are rich! Clean the knife in hot water each time you cut.

7. Using cocktail sticks or a fork, dip the squares into the melted chocolate then quickly roll in the cocoa. Work quickly with each chocolate. Place on a clean plate and allow to set in the fridge for a short time.

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