Monday, February 05, 2007

Truffles, Candy and Confectionary

I picked up this book on a recent Amazon splurge. After I took a look through, I almost sent it back. The truffle recipes are all very basic. And essentially variations on a theme, as the method is nearly identical for each page, it's only the ingredients that vary. Good for a total beginner to truffles, but I'm well past that stage now.

I decided to keep it, however, for the candies and confections portions. While I've developed an intuitive sense of how to work with ganaches for truffles, caramel is still something of a mystery to me, and this book had a bunch of interesting caramel recipes to try. Not to mention nut brittles, marzipans, fruit jellies, and fudges.

The recipes are straightforward and easy to follow. This weekend we had a big party to go to on Saturday night, so I used that as an excuse to try out not one, not two, but THREE different recipes from the book. All of which turned out really well.

At the bottom are Espresso Caramels, in both wrapped and chocolate covered versions. To the left, wrapped and chocolate dipped versions of the Honey Nut Caramels. To the right and in the middle (with the chopped nuts on top) is a slightly overcooked Hazelnut Butter Crunch. It's definitely edible, but darker than I would have preferred. The caramels are both good, but the honey nut is the best.

Here's what the caramels look like inside:

My verdict: If you're new to candy or truffle making, this is an good book. It covers all of the basics, in an approachable style and with methods that don't require a lot of specialized equipment. If you've already got some confectionary experience, then you'll probably find it too simplistic and would be better served with a different book. Even a beginner might have that experience - do you really need a recipe to tell you to temper some chocolate and mix it with roasted peanuts? Or, a couple pages later, the same recipe but with coconut instead? But there are some gems in the mix, and a good grounding in basic techniques, so it's certainly worth a look.

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