This week’s task has been to visit the German embassy in order to get a new passport. And going to the embassy fills me with equal amounts of anticipation and dread.
The dread is easily explained by the number of forms I have to fill in, the need for documents I mislaid but now need to present, with countless photocopies … you name it. But then there is also the sense of excitement at the thought of going to embassy, which is situated in the priciest corner of London, half way between Harrod’s and the equally expensive but much classier Sloane Square. The thought at wallking through streets where a one-bedroom basement flat with no natural light will set you back a couple of millions, naturally, fills me with a false sense of grandeur. And anyone watching TV in the 1990s will understand where I’m coming from:
“The Ambassador’s receptions are noted in society for their host’s exquisite taste” … This pyramid of nutella-filled, tinfoil-clad sweets, so befitting for an ambassador’s reception, clearly was the ultimate in style and taste at the time. As were shoulder pads and big hair. And every time I approach the grumpy-looking security that quard the unspectacular door where we ordinary folks are ushered towards. I feel disappointment wallowing up inside me, the knowledge that, again, I would not be offered any chocolates. I might get a passport out of it, though, the consolation prize.
To be honest, I’ve never been too keen on neither Nutella nor on the aforementioned chocolates (probably for the same reason, since they are produced by the same people), but I was nevertheless keen to find out if I could make nougat, or gianduja, from scratch – especially as it is a vital ingredient for many truffle recipes. Gianduja is, basically, a distant cousin of marzipan: whereas the latter is made from ground almonds and sugar, gianduja is a blend of toasted hazelnuts, sugar and chocolate. What’s not to like?An in case you wondered: despite going past all these posh shops while I was in the area, the only thing I brought home were those lovely Penguin ‘black classics’ – at 80 p a pop, I decided I could afford a whole handful.
The truffles are incredibly easy to make (if you have a good food processor), and the following recipe will guarantee you a very happy reception. And if. indeed, you’re presenting them to people my age, preferably Brits, you might even get someone to utter the classic response: “Ambassador, you’re really spoiling us.” Surely the greatest recognition a chef could ever get.
Gianduja Truffles (makes 40)
- 100g blanched hazelnuts
- 50g icing sugar
- 80g dark chocolate couverture
- 80ml double cream
- ca. 40 dark chocolate shells
- 200g milk chocolate couverture
- 30g chopped, roasted hazelnuts
Your first step depends on whether you can buy blanched hazelnuts as well as chopped, roasted hazelnuts. If not, check out this post by Wickedgoodkitchen, which will give you the lowdown on how to remove (blanch) hazelnuts in the first place.
If you can get hold of blanched hazelnuts, simply toast them under your how grill for ca. 10 minutes, tossing and turning them as you go along. They will start emitting a beautiful scent and then begin to turn golden, at which point you remove them from the grill and cool them down a bit.
In your food processor, grind the toasted hazelnuts and the icing sugar to a fine powder. If, unlike me, you cannot buy chopped, roasted hazelnuts, toast a few more in the first step and remove the most decorative chunks after a fist whizz, to keep them for the decoration.
In a small saucepan, bring the cream to boil. Add the dark chocolate couverture and keep stirring until it has completely melted. Pour the mix to the ground hazelnuts and keep whizzing your food processor until it has all combined. Using a piping bag or similar, pipe the gianduja into the prepared dark chocolate shells.
Temper the milk chocolate couverture by bringing a small casserole filled with 1-2 cm water to boil. Remove the pot from the hob and place a bowl with 2/3 of the milk chocolate couverture on top of the casserole: the bowl should not touch the water – you want to avoid that any water, including steam, comes in contact with the chocolate. One drop of water and you need to bin the lot!
Once the chocolate reaches 40-44C, remove the bowl from the casserole and dry it. Place it on a cool surface and add the remaining chocolate. Keep stirring constantly until the temperature has cooled down to 27-28C.
Place the bowl back onto the casserole and heat the chocolate to 31-32C. Now it has reached the ideal temperature and you have to make sure you keep it at that!
Close off your shells with a drop of the chocolate, then dip them into the melted chocolate and place them, pretty side up, on a baking sheet. Sprinkle the chopped hazelnuts on the top.
As always on a Friday, I’ll be bringing these over to Angie’s Fiesta Friday Party. I cannot imagine a more befitting occasion for these lovelies!
Happy Fiesta Friday, everyone!