|The aftermath - please believe we left more than we drank.|
Our belated Burns night celebration was great fun - a mild hangover and a mountain of washing up both bear testament to the festivities and at least one of those factors has been responsible for a fairly lazy Sunday - though I have got through quite a few odd jobs so maybe not so lazy.
One thing I particularly like about a Burns night supper is how easy it is to cook. Haggis, neaps, and tatties (turnips/swedes and potatoes for the none Scots) don't really require much attention - you simmer them until they're ready, stab one, and mash the others. I believe Cullen Skink is the approved first course but I favour home made bread (because I like baking it) and fish or mushroom pate which feels appropriately rustic and makes for very welcome left overs - also whizzing something up in a blender is less effort than soup and less faffing in the kitchen when you have friends and wine waiting elsewhere. The blonde insists that the pudding is cranachan which is also easily knocked up ahead of time and demands nothing more than enjoyment after that, all of which means there's plenty of time to think what shall I make now...
It was going to be fudge but then I thought chocolate whisky truffles would be even better. Mastering chocolate is something of an ambition for me (in any way you choose to interpret it; all to often chocolate masters me). There's a lot of technique involved, it's messy, and calls for a great deal of patience, all of those present challenges - with truffles though I think it might be the mess that bothers me the most.
The truffle recipe I use is from Sara Jayne-Stanes 'Chocolate The Definitive Guide' (published by Grub Street - they're one of those publishers whose mark on the spine is enough to make me pick up the book). It's a while since I've looked through this book but I remembered the truffles being light, delicious, and easy to mix up (the tricky bit comes later) what I hadn't remembered was just how much other stuff was in there - it's good to get re-acquainted with a cook book you haven't picked up for a while - it's maybe even more exciting than buying a new one.
Basically you take 200g of the best quality dark chocolate you're prepared to use and 290 ml's of double cream. Break the chocolate into little bits and pop it in a reasonably big bowl whilst bringing the cream to a rolling boil - when the cream is ready poor it over the chocolate and mix until it's all thoroughly blended and melted at which point you add any flavouring - in this case 3 tablespoons of whisky and some vanilla powder, and leave it to cool at room temperature for something between one and two hours after which you whisk with an electric mixer until it just starts to thicken. You can then pipe out the truffles - which makes for very messy washing up, or you can let the mix set some more and then roll them by hand. This is also messy but hands are easier to wash than piping bags and mine currently smell amazing. However even dusted with cocoa after 4 truffles I had to stop to wash mu hands because they got to sticky - the chocolate and cream mix just melts, though try and work with it when it's to cold and it disintegrates then melts.
Eventually I had enough truffles rolled out for last night (I did the rest today which is how I know what happens when they get to cold) and wanted to cover them in white chocolate. White chocolate is inclined to burn and is not my favourite thing to work with - but is an excellent foil for the bitter dark chocolate and the smoky whisky I used. When it was cool enough to give the truffles a good thick coating it was also cool enough to be difficult to apply - though still warm enough to make the truffles want to melt. I didn't manage to cover all my truffles, or all of all the truffles I did get chocolate on, but happily they tasted great. More practice this afternoon with all the leftover mix yielded very slightly better results. This IS something I will crack.
Oh, and apparently they will keep for a week - but honestly there's no chance of that happening.