I mostly improvise my truffle fillings, so I don’t have a specific recipe for the goat cheese and honey truffles. I think I added about two ounces of goat cheese to some warmed-up cream, to soften it, and then added a good-sized dollup of honey and mixed it all together. I added a little more honey (“to taste”) and then added it to a batch of the ganache base.
The base recipe I use for my ganache comes from Frederic Bau’s Au Coeur des Saveurs (“At the Heart of Flavors”), which is an excellent if pricey book on chocolates. Bau was the head pastry chef for Valrhona, and has a bunch of excellent formulations in his book. It’s definitely not for the casual cook, but I like it a lot and use it regularly (usually with modifications depending on my mood at the time).
Here is the basic formulation:
275 g chocolate (I used Valrhona’s Equatoriale 55%)
200 g heavy cream
40 g liquid additions (brandy, etc.) or additional cream
50 g butter
Chop chocolate into 1/2″ dice. Boil cream and pour over chocolate and butter; you may have to put it in the microwave for ~30 seconds to ensure everything gets melted. Stir slowly, starting in the center, until the ganache forms into a thick, liquid mass. Slowly add any liquid additions (coffee, liqueurs, Scotch, etc.). Let sit at room temperature until it thickens, and pipe small blobs onto a sheet of parchment paper (for truffles) or into molds (if making molded chocolates). Put parchment paper in fridge to harden truffle centers, then dip in tempered or untempered chocolate. (Untempered chocolate will work, but you will have to store the resulting truffles in the fridge).
If you want to use something like, say, jasmine tea or lavender or something else that has to be steeped, boil the cream first, add your flavorants, steep as long as you like, then strain, bring the cream back to a boil, and pour over the chocolate. Add 40g extra cream since you won’t be adding any liquid flavorants (unless of course you are)- I usually add an extra 10g to make up for any evaporation, for a total of 50g extra cream.
As for introductory books…I got started via Alice Medrich’s Cocolat and Rose Levy Beranbaum’s A Passion for Chocolate, but both of them are out of print now. I’m not sure what introductory books are on the market now…but I’d recommend starting with untempered chocolate (and storing the results in the fridge) and working your way slowly into tempered chocolate. Another shortcut, if you’ve got money to spend, is to buy a chocolate tempering machine – they cost around $300 last I checked, and will do all the hard work for you. 🙂 I keep being tempted to buy one, but I enjoy working the chocolate on marble…Although, after spending an hour and a half scrubbing down my marble slab after the last batch of chocolates, it’s sounding better and better. Chocolate is fun to work with and tasty to eat, but it’s a royal bitch to clean up. The cocoa butter hardens and then it’s like trying to get old wax off a floor.
On other topics, I have finished winding the warp for my next project, and have spread it into a raddle, ready for beaming on. There are a lot of very fine threads in the warp–I’m hoping they don’t tangle as they go on. Once I get it beamed on, it’ll be time for the very tedious task of threading the heddles and sleying the reed. I enjoy threading, but there are over 759 ends in this particular piece, so I expect it will take some time. Still, the end results should be worth the effort…I hope!