Wednesday, October 22, 2008

TGRWT # 11, Banana Clove Truffles

Heston Blumenthal, I humbly thank you. Had you not taken the time to research the different (but more importantly the similar!) chemical compounds of certain flavours then I would not have known that white chocolate and caviar is just the sexiest food ever. And how lucky was I to have discovered his works right in the beginning of my descent into the rabbit hole that is molecular gastronomy? And when I say molecular gastronomy I am still including chefs such as Ferran Adria and David Arnold, even though the two of them try to distance themselves from such nomenclature.

Mr. Blumenthal posted a list of foods that you wouldn't think to pair up but due to their sharing of the same major volatile molecules they have a tendency to taste really nice together, or taste somewhat surprisingly similar. The list can be found here http://khymos.org/pairings.php . Of all the suggested new food pairings listed the two I was most ready and eager to try were white chocolate with caviar and banana and clove. These two seemed the easiest considering my culinary history in confections and the in realm of sweet vs. savory.

I rushed out and bought a nice bar of white baking chocolate and the only jar of black caviar at my local grocer. Not a great brand but one I grew up eating on Christmas Eve at my grandparents' house. A friend of mine was over at the time and I broke us off a few pieces of chocolate and simply spooned a small amount of caviar on top of it. We placed the pieces on our tongues with the caviar on top. Pressing my tongue into the bottom of the chocolate I smashed the whole thing up into the roof of my mouth, the heat melting the chocolate which then blending astonishingly well with the salt of the caviar. At first the caviar was too present and I was nervous that this was going to be a mistake. Once the two melded and the chocolate liquefied it was a different story entirely. Both of these are powerful flavours and the end result was a dreamy, sensual, soul warming buttery wash of savory sweetness coating the palate. It was an intense taste, and a little goes a long way. I think that will go into the memory banks as my new trump card.

After the wonderful success of that pairing, the next one to move onto was bananas and clove. After a little researching online I found a recipe for a banana and clove milkshake at http://eriks-food-ucation.blogspot.com/2008/10/banana-and-clove-milkshake-tgrwt.html . I added more cloves then Erik here did and really enjoyed this recipe. It was simply, it wasn't too sweet, and it seemed to me to be a wonderful comfort food flavour. The cloves added a really nice but not overpowering depth to the bananas. Personally I can't get enough of flavours like cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves. They are my weakness and I often say if true love had an aroma it would be pumpkin pie spice mulling on the stove.

I decided I would try and develop a recipe for the challenge http://khymos.org had posted with TGRWT #11. TGRWT is the acronym for "They Go Really Well Together" and is an invitation to try out new flavour pairings and post them in the blogosphere. So with that today I came up with Banana and clove truffles dipped in white chocolate.

Banana filling:
1 cup pureed very ripe banana
1/4 cup dark brown sugar (I would use light brown next time, as the dark was very heavy)
1/2 TBL butter at room temp.
1/4 tsp powdered cloves

for the Ganache:
1/2 lb. white chocolate
1/2 cup heavy cream
10 whole cloves, cut in half
1/2 TBL butter at room temp.

Melted white chocolate for dipping.

Put white chocolate in a medium sized heat resistant bowl.
In a small saucepan simmer the heavy cream and the cloves for 5 minutes. In a shallow nonstick pan mix the banana, cloves, butter, and brown sugar. Cook till banana mixture starts to boil, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon or a spatula. Keep tasting the mixture until it reaches a nice caramelized flavour, and remove from heat.
Strain the heated cream to remove any pieces of cloves. Bring back up to a simmer if necessary. Immediately pour over white chocolate mixture, stirring constantly starting from the inside and working towards the outside of the bowl. Stir in the butter and banana mixture, whisking all of the ingredients together until light in colour and all the white chocolate has melted. Line a shallow tray with wax paper and spray with cooking oil. Pour the banana and white chocolate mixture onto the tray and place in the freezer until it firms up enough to be able to be rolled into small balls. Dip these into melted white chocolate and dust with clove powder.

Verdict: These were overly sweet. Granted they were decent but they could stand for some major improvement. First of all the filling was very sticky and difficult to work with (but I didn't spray the paper.) Secondly there is just way too much white chocolate going on here. I was having to ghetto rig some of my cooking equipment as I was reprising my role as the kitchen nomad and had to make these in my friend's near barren kitchen so the white chocolate dipping could have gone a lot smoother. I will try to make these again at some point (when I get the taste of white chocolate out of my system and my molars.) and changes I will experiment with are caramelizing the bananas before pureeing them, either cutting down/cutting out the sugar or just switching to a light brown sugar as the dark is a rather powerful flavour, and possibly rolling these in powdered sugar or coconut instead of dipping them in white chocolate (remember the ganache itself is made of white chocolate.) The main downfall is that they are too sweet. If you still wanted to have these coated in white chocolate I would recommend going the chocolate mold route so you could have a nice thin shell of white chocolate and you could pour the filling in, which would allow for the addition of more pureed banana and the subtraction of some of the white chocolate and cream.

End note: white chocolate, banana, and clove go well together, just don't let one overpower. Banana and clove itself is excellent and I will experiment with these two a lot more.



3 comments:

ChaMonsta said...

mmmm...

Chef Thomas said...

They really do sound great, I think I will have to try one sometime

A conscientious hedonist. said...

Thank you both! They were excellent, and rather easy. Also, to make rolling them easier I learned to place the filling in a piping bag and chill that bag in the fridge for a little bit. Once the mixture has set up a little bit then you can pipe out small drops on a wax paper lined half sheet pan, and re-chill them. Then you can start to roll them quickly in your hands to get a smoother shape, and then dip them. The pastry bag is a lifesaver, let me tell you!