I'm actually ahead of the game for our next edition of Cook the Books. After posting my last entry, I immediately picked up our next book (Like Water for Chocolate) and started reading. I had it finished before the weekend was over. I really thought I remembered reading this book previously, but I must have been thinking of Chocolat, because I'm pretty certain I would have remembered disliking a book as much as I disliked this one. Don't get me wrong, that didn't stop me from reading it. I'm ever the optimist, always thinking, "it has to get better"....yeah, but it didn't. Maybe I'm food snob. I like real recipes, not fanciful ones with unreal ingredients. I mean, I enjoy a good piece of fiction, and I'm all about the supernatural, and Latin American cultures, so I really should have liked this book. But I just couldn't make myself enjoy it.
That being said, not much will deter me from pulling something tasty from my kitchen, no matter the motive. So, I thought about the book; its name obviously had some inspiration lying in it (I mean, really, its CHOCOLATE....) and the burning desires that Tita felt throughout the book reminded me of one of my favorite candy recipes. Aztec Chile Truffles.
Yep, if you've ever had Mexican hot chocolate, you're going to be all over this one. You can make these chocolates as mild or as spicy as you want (yes, that's right, I used 'chocolate' and 'spicy' in the same sentence.) Don't judge, just give it a try. And if you're still unsure, I'm including my other favorite truffle recipe for dark chocolate-orange truffles (another classic combo).
For the ganache base:
Start with 24 ounces of good quality dark chocolate (or milk chocolate, if you're a wussy, but you know that dark chocolate is full of antioxidants, so we can justify eating it). Roughly chop the chocolate (if you are using a bar instead of chips) and put it in a double boiler (I use a stainless steel bowl over a saucepan of simmering water - no need for fancy equipment here.) with about a half a cup of heavy cream. Stir until the chocolate is smooth, then add in your spices:
For the Aztec Chile Truffles:
1-2 tsp cayenne pepper (depending on your heat tolerance)
1 tsp good quality cinnamon (I recommend Vietnamese cinnamon!)
1/8 tsp each ground ginger, allspice, and cloves
For the Dark Chocolate-Orange Truffles:
1/2 tsp orange extract
the zest of one orange
Let the mixture cool enough to handle and roll into bite size balls. Then roll the balls in cocoa powder or sanding sugar to finish; or if you have candy molds, spoon the ganache into them to set. I have some nice silicone molds that work well.Note: if you do use candy molds, be sure to gently (but firmly) tap the trays against the counter several times to work any air bubbles out of them and help guarantee a nice shape. I do recommend letting these set up in the fridge, versus the freezer. They seem to have a better texture that way, although I'm not sure why. You can also melt more chocolate and coat the finished truffles with it, but I am too lazy for that, which is why I bought the pretty shaped molds. These keep best in the fridge, so that the chocolate doesn't soften too much (if they aren't coated).
Now we can all feel the burn, just like Tita. Enjoy!