Friday, February 12, 2010
The way Proust felt about madelines, I feel about Earl Grey tea. Just a whiff of it almost overwhelms me with the memories of cold Sunday afternoons in my mother's apartment; me wrapped up in wool blankets on the beige velveteen couch, a tray nearby holding two soft-boiled eggs, a small pile of salt for dipping, a tarnished silver spoon and a cup of strong, sweet and milky Earl Grey steaming alongside.
I'm not much of a tea drinker these days, but I've never had a pantry that doesn't contain a dusty yellow box of Twinings Earl Grey. Every couple of years I'll catch a particularly terrible cold and nothing will comfort me like a cup of that tea. The rest of the time it's just there for reassurance.
So. When I came across an old issue of Bon Appetit with a recipe for Earl Grey truffles, I couldn't be deterred. It took two nights of work--stirring and dipping and dredging far past my bedtime--but the smell alone was worth the effort. Of course, every last one was packed up to give as Valentine's gifts for Dash's teachers, and we each had just the teensiest taste of them. But those tastes were enough for me to highly recommend them here.
(I can't find the official recipe online, but here's the crux of it):
Earl Grey Chocolate truffles
1 lb. good quality bittersweet chocolate, chopped
2 sticks unsalted butter
6 bags of Earl Grey tea, cut open
1 c. heavy cream
2 Tbsp. brandy
2 Tbsp. sugar
unsweetened cocoa powder
In a medium saucepan, melt butter & chocolate over low heat.
Meanwhile, in another saucepan, bring cream and sugar just to a simmer & then remove from heat. Dump in the tea leaves, cover and allow to steep for 20 minutes.
Once the chocolate & butter is melted, add the brandy and salt. Then strain the tea/cream mixture through a very fine sieve (or a couple of layers of cheesecloth) into the chocolate. Stir everything to combine.
Cover and chill at least four hours (I left it in the fridge until the following evening. Then I took it out a couple hours before I planned to work with it).
When chilled, scoop little balls (I didn't actually roll them into balls--I left them lumpy so they'd look like real truffles) onto a wax paper-lined cookie sheet. Chill again for at least an hour.
Once the balls (or lumps) have chilled, dump about 10 at a time into a gallon freezer bag, pour some cocoa powder in and shake gently to coat. Repeat until they're all coated. Then bag 'em up and weep gently that you didn't save any for yourself.
(makes about 50)