Sunday, February 15, 2009

Terrific Truffles for Valentine's Day

About a week ago I had a minor surgery which rendered me confined to my couch for a few days. During that time I made a list of dishes that I have been dying to try to create, located the necessary recipes, and then hit the kitchen as soon as I was well enough. The previous post about my childhood favorite pizzagane was one of my desired dishes and so are truffles. During my time off I read a lot about the uses of chocolate ganache because I was intimidated by it and wanted to find out if there was really anything to be afraid of. Of course I discovered its a simple, delicious confection with many uses for your desserts. With Valentine's Day just around the corner and my new ganache confidence, I decided to take all the leftover chocolate and make a variety of truffles for my loved ones this year.

Throughout my discovery, I found out that the better quality chocolate you use for your ganache which will be your truffle, the better your candy piece is going to taste. I suppose that is common sense so my leftover Ghirardelli baking chocolates were the perfect starting ingredient to my:
  1. white chocolate truffles
  2. mint semi-sweet truffles
  3. milk chocolate truffles
  4. peanut butter chocolate truffles
Since I didn't go out and buy the chocolates, I had varying amounts. This is important since the ratio of chocolate to cream is 3 to 1. After making my 3 ganaches and my peanut butter melted mix, I let them all set in the fridge from 1-3 hours. Once the chocolate was malleable but still sturdy the fun began - toppings and fillings! Using a small melon baller I scooped the chocolate out and either stuffed in a macadamia nut, hazelnut, fresh peaches sprinkled in sugar and sea salt, dried pineapple, dried cherry, salty caramel, or even nothing at all! The same list of ingredients for the fillings are also for the toppings along with decorative sugars leftover from Christmas cookies to mix and match the different flavors for different candy creations.

After making as many variations as you can by just what's in your cupboard, put each truffle in a cupcake liner and then into a sealed container for the truffles to set for another few hours. When their ready for the final gift packaging, find a cheap holiday themed container. I found heart shaped candy dishes at Walgreeen's for $.99 each! Arrange your truffles to enhance the visual beauty for the eyes before your loved ones wrap their lips around the velvety chocolate to please their palette. Showing your love to all those close to you by giving a handmade confection without spending more $25 is something definitely worth celebrating!

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Oh! Pizzagane Pie!

All of sudden an uncontrollable urge to taste my late great-grandmother's amazing pizzagane pie has recently overcome my taste buds. I literally hadn't had it in years but I could feel the eggy crust and delicious cheese and salted meat center through my neuro-senses so intensely, I called up my Aunt Karen and asked her for the recipe. Of course when she was re-iteratiring the late, great Elviria Ferrante's recipe she prefaced it with, "Now, there are no measurements for this." Classic. I took my notes like a good student and taking what I know of cooking in general plus the taste my brain is telling me I remember perfectly, I did it-I made the Ferrante Pizzagane.

Now, I would love to share this recipe with you but as they say, it's gotta stay in the family. I will tell you its a basic egg dough, ricotta cheese, provolone cheese, and salted, dry Italian meats. I took my pizzagane to Sunday night dinner and I am proud it say, it was a hit! Of course Mr. T's caponata was the bell of the ball, but it always is. Ciao! Mangia!

(look at the size of this sucker!)