Mojito, Jalapenos & Chocolate

Jalapeno Chocolate, originally uploaded by Ayala Moriel.

On the hottest day of the year, I've made the crucial mistake of making chocolate truffles. And not just any truffles, truffles that are stuffed into hot peppers! Where did I get this idea? I've wintessed, in some crazy birthday party of a friend, people pouring tequila into halved jalapenos and after drinking the burning liquor, chewing up on the entire pepper! Being neither a fan of jalapenos nor tequila, I've decided to adopt the idea and make something that is not for a faint-of-heart like me. And I've decided to add some mojito flavours to the mix...

The biggest problem is that the truffles melt in your fingers before even going through 1/4 way into the batch...

Well, aside from the meltage factor, the crucial mistake turned out quite good, actually. I've made two experimental batches - both with dark chocolate. I've split the ganache into half, so I can make two flavours and not have too many truffles at hand... This proves to be quite detrimental to the balanced diet I try to maintain on a daily basis - unless I make sure I have company every single evening...

Both batches had a bit of vanilla extract and rum added to them:

Jalapeno Truffles:
First batch was flavoured with lime and spearmint essential oils. Some of it I've stuffed into those green hot peppers (these are actually not jalapenos, because I couldn't find small enough jalapenos. Instead, I've used the hotter than fire serano peppers... Ouch!). They are topped with very thinly sliced fresh and sweet lime.
The result?
If you're like me (meaning: don't mind some spiciness but don't seek the fire-hot sensation on your tongue), you may not want to bite into the pepper itself (unless you belong to the other kind of people). You may just want to scoop out the chocolate. After chilling in the fridge for several hours, the chocolate have absorbed enough hotness to satisfy me. The strange (in a good way) thing is: this combination, along with the pepper, tastes a lot like fig! I don't know why, but it certainly does.

The remaining of the batch, I've turned into "normal" truffles, which were very minty and quite delightful. Espeically if you love mint. The lime was in the background, quite quiet...

Lavender & Nutmeg Truffles
The second batch was where the real surprise was. This is the first time I'm making truffles with no perfume inspiration behind them, yet the result was immensely perfumey! Some kind of mysterious alchemy is going on there. The nutmeg I've used is nutmeg absolute, which is well-rounded and full bodied, smoother and sweeter than the nutmeg essential oil. The lavender is lavender Mailette from France, which is very floral and light. The two notes, along with chocolate, clash to create a very peculiar flavour that feels so familiar... I'm transported to the Wadi where my friend Zohar used to live, yet I can't say if it's her house that I'm smelling or if its a particular wild herb that I can't recognize, in the midst of the wadi... Either way, I'm enjoying these immensely. They are floral, exotic, unusual, strange, yet the flavour is very harmonious. I can't believe I'm saying it, but think these are my favourite truffles so far!

New Tree Mini Chocolate Boxes

New Tree Chocolate, originally uploaded by Ayala Moriel.

I spotted these miniature chocolate packages at Capers yesterday, and couldn't resist getting a couple to try (they were placed right before the checkout, of course, the oldest trick in the book and they still manage to get me!). As you can see, they are $3.79 for a little sample package for a chocaholic on-the-go of three little chocolate tablets weighing 9gr each. These made-in-Belgium chocolates (for the US based company New Tree) are not organic, and rather pricey in my humble opinion.

I picked two to try:

Tranquility (milk chocolate with lavender) and Renew (dark 73% chocolate with cassis). I wouldn't have picked the lavender one unless it was for one of my chocolate truffle workshop students who raved about a lavender infused hot chocolate, and the lavender infused steam milk that she now drinks before bed time. I had to try it just for her!

The list of ingredients on the Tranquility mentioned natural lavender flavour and lime blossoms extracts. The term "natural lavender flavour" seems quite suspicious, especially after tasting it. It was quite awful and I have a feeling that rather than just putting in some lavender extract or essential oil, there is a lot more to it, and it ruins the flavour. It tastes artificial, somehow.

Renew, the blackccurant one, lists "blackcurrant with other natural flavour" and "grape extract". Maybe there is real blackcurrant there, maybe not. It's hard to tell with this kind of labeling. But what I am sure about is that it tasted marvellous.

I am not too keen to try the other flavours, because most of them did not make sense to me so to speak. I absolutlely don't dig their "Forgiveness" - dark chocolate with lemon, which sounds quite unforgivable to me. Ginger in chocolate does not appeal to me either as a flavour, and the other more agreeable and sensible choices were simply non-original (bitter orange with milk chocolate; coffee with dark chocolate or cinnamon and milk chocolate). But the cassis one was quite something, so I may come back for more.

Otherwise, the marriage between aromatherapy and chocolate craving seems quite scary to me...

Coffee, Chocolates - A Perfect Swap!

I've been swapping on Make Up Alley for a few years now, and always enjoyed the experience. It's like having fragrant pen-pals, and adds a personal touch to internet communications (if any other form of communication even exist these days...).

Each swapper packages their goods differently, and most add something: a card, a note, surprising samples... You can imagine my delight when a recent swap arrived, professionally packaged (a little voice was telling me: "you should hire this lady to help you with shipping!"), and containing the two above items.

Nyakio's Kenyan Coffee & Sugar Scrub was the "official" part of the trade. I was craving it for the longest time and I must blame MUA for that: a trial-size jar of this delicious sugar scrub was an "extra" from another swap and I fell for it hopelessly, mostly because it smells so good and feels so good to rub coffee and sugar on your skin! All in all, sugar scrubs are becoming my favourite way to exfoliate the skin and at the same time it also gets moisturized. I should start making my own, because I run through these way too quickly...

My dear swapper Lauren also had the generosity and patience to go into town and pick me a box of Eaton's Magic Morsels - handmade chocolates from her home town. How sweet is that!
And totally fitting with the theme I had going on around Valentine's Day. So there you go - you've got another chocolatier on your list. You mostly get truly American treats here: chocolate stuffed with coconut or orange filling, marshmallows, caramel. Magic Morsel have a knack for packaging their chocoltes in quite an unusual way. They seem to interpret "chocolate box" quite literally: a box made of chocolates, in attractive shapes, filled with more chocolates!

...And The Chocolate Winners Are:

Thank you to all of the participants in my two chocolate contests this February!

The following are the winners of my chocolate perfumes, Guilt and Film Noir:

Thank you to all of you who participated in the "Name Your Favourite Artisan Chocolatier" contest!

The winners of the draw are Dana and Moonmaiden. Please email me with your mailing address so I can send you your prize - a miniature of either Film Noir or Guilt (It's your choice!).

For future chocaholic reference, here are the links to the chocolatiers recommended by SmellyBlog readers:

Dilettante Chocolate in Seattle, recommended by Dana, who particularly loves their Dark Chocolate Truffles.

Leonidas Fresh Belgian Chocolate in Greece, recommended by Helg, who loves their pralines.

DeBrand Chocolates in Fort Wayne, Indiana - recommended by Moonmaiden, who also hints to us that they have a monthly giveaway!

Endangered Species Chocolates, recommended by Lizzy from Hawaii, who loves to share the Bat Bar with her son. Dark chocolate with chocolate nibs - this sounds both yummy and healthy! Way to go for your son for taking in the dark side of chocolate, I had to turn 30 before fully appreciating the seduction of dark chocolate!

I am now eager to explore all the artisan chocolatiers you've recommended!

You all did really well guessing the girly scent in my perfume collection David fell for. But only one of you guessed right - and it was Helg! Please email me to let me know your choice for a mini - Film Noir or Guilt.

Yes, David's new favourite perfume is none other than L de Lolita Lempicka. The packaging, for those who don't know, looks like a flat heart with golden charms. It almost looks like a celebrity scent in a way... The packaging is not the best in terms of practicality. David had struggled with it quite a bit - from twisting the cap and locking it to pulling it apart... At least, this is the small 30ml bottle (it was availale only for a short time around the holidays) so it's not too difficult to hold it in my hand).
I consider myself very lucky to share L with David - it's always a nice surprise to get a waft of vanilla, orange and cinnamon from him!
Plus it gives me an excuse to stock up on this beauty. My next L purchase is going to be the pure parfum!

A little note about the above photo - it's a monument for Quetzalcoatl, the Atztec God of Chocolate. Isn't it great?

Guilt-Marnier Chocolate Truffles

These scrumptious chocolate truffles are the dessert version of my Guilt perfume. Orange and chocolate re a classic combination. Here we go the extra step by using wild orange essential - a particularly bright and sparkling citrus essence, as well as the sweet richness of Grand Marnier liquer. But it is really the addition of orange flower absolute that makes these truffles a departure from your every day treats: this precious floral essence adds a surprising twist, a melt-in-your-mouth bouquet.

I highly recommend using the 70% bittersweet chocolate from Lindt, not only for its flavour, but also for the super-thin squares which can be crubled effortlessly by hand; if you use these, simply brake each square into four by hand.

Get organic whipping cream if you can find it. The ones with no additives will truly make the whole difference. I find these to be preferable for any dessert preparations: the natural whipping cream whipps to a lighter and prettier whipped cream than those that have stabilizers. And the flavour is completely out of this world.

400 gr Bittersweet Chocolate
1 cup heavy (aka whipping) cream
1 Tbs. Grand Marnier Liquor
15 drops Wild Orange Oil
5 drops Sweet Orange Oil
3 drops Oranage Flower Absolute
1/2 cup dutch processed cocoa powder, sifted

a. Chop the chocolate into small pieces, or break by hand, into more or less similar size pieces.
b. Place in a Bain Marie over gently simmering water, and stir with a wire-whisk.
c. Once the chocolate is melted, add the cream and the Grand Marnier. Stir with a wire-whisk until the cream completely blends with the chocolate.
d. Remove from the heat.
e. Add the essential oils drop by drop, and stir with the wire whisk until completely blended.
f. Transfer into a tupperware container and refrigerate until firm (for 2 hours or more).
g. Cover a baking sheet with the cocoa powder
h. Scoop the truffles using a melon-scooper. It is really going to save you a lot of trouble. But if you can't find a melon-scooper, you can use a shapely measuring teaspoon (1/2 tsp. size will suffice - you want to keep the truffles small and special!)
i. Roll the truffles between your palms to turn them into perfect spheres, and place the truffles on the sheet
j. Rinse the scooper in warm water in between truffles, to make it easier
k. Once all the truffles are made, shake the baking sheet to cover the truffles with cocoa.
l. Refrigerate until firm before serving.

If the aroma and flavour of home-made chocolate truffles seems to not be worth the effort, consider these side-effects of making truffles at home:
1) Your house will smell so good when you cook the ganache - and after.
2) The sensory experience is quite therapeutic. Ask Freud - or look at this photo. I haven't had so much fun since I played in mud as a kid or went to the pottery studio...
3) The earthy scent of chocolate will linger on your hands for hours to come, making you feel oh so delicious on your own...

If you don't happen to have all the essential oils mentioned within hand reach, there is some flexibility in this recipe. Of course, the result will be different, but it will still be a delight for the senses. The orange essences can be replaced by sweet orange oil, which is widely available from all aromatherapy and health food stores. It's always recommended to use organic citrus essential oils - their aroma is superior, and they don't contain some of the toxins that are so abundant in the peel of sprayed citrus fruit.

Variations: This recipe can also serve as an inspiration: it can be tweaked and improvised on. I highly recommend experimenting with other liquor flavours and other essential oils. Substitue the Grand Marnier with Galliano, Kaluah, Kirsch, or any other berry liquor. When pairing essential oils with these, use your imagination - but don't forget that essential oils are highly concentrated. It's better to use less and add more, than put too much. The pleasure will be diminished and the results can be quite frightening - particualrly with strong spice and floral oils. Add a drop at a time, mix well and taste in between to avoid olfactory disasters of the palette!

* The instruction for this recipe are loosely adopted from the recipe for Chocolate-Mint Truffles from the book Aroma by Mandy Aftel and Daniel Patterson (Page 43).

  • Page 1 of 2
  • Page 1 of 2
Back to the top