Sunday, November 09, 2014

Making Truffles With Fran Costigan

So, a few weeks ago,  Fran Costigan, the FABULOUS Queen of vegan chocolate-y, dessert-y things, announced that she would be in Seattle for the prestigious Northwest Chocolate Festival
She also mentioned on Facebook that she needed an assistant or two for her Chocolate presentation at the Festival, as well as someone to help her make her super-delicious "Chocolate-Cake-To-Live-For" and the decadent Chocolate-Orange-Sesame truffles she would be demo-ing and offering tastes of. 
Cake, cookbook, truffles!
Bake with Fran Costigan? Learn more about chocolate? Help at the Northwest Chocolate Festival? Chocolate truffles? Of course I subtly jumped at the opportunity!! ("Pick me! Pick me!" Yes, I'm subtle that way!)

So Fran contacted me. Yes. ME! Imagine! She said she would be preparing her chocolates in the commercial test kitchen at the Field Roast Factory (seems she and Field Roast CEO David Lee are friends from way back...) and would I be available to help her there? Spend the day making chocolates ANND hanging around the Field Roast Factory? THEEEE Field Roast Factory? This just gets better and better. Of course I was available!

(WARNING! Many excited pictures coming up, bear with me and the weird formatting...)
So, several days later, I found myself chauffeuring Fran through Seattle and pulling up to the Field Roast Factory and riding the elevator to the second floor like we knew what we were doing! No big deal...
(Well, Fran DOES know what she's doing. Me, not so much!)
The staff at Field Roast were EVER so helpful and welcoming and friendly and fun! They showed us around and helped us unload Fran's supplies and utensils into the kitchen, . 
(Can I just say? Field Roast has a BEAUTIFUL test kitchen full of lovely shiny appliances and woodblock counters and dreamy cupboards chock-full of wonderfully mysterious and exotic ingredients.)

The entire day was surreal!

We cooked.
We baked.
We mixed.
We washed lots of dishes...

We shaped, and ganache-ed and made all sorts of Unapologetically Luscious and Decadent chocolate stuffs. 
We hung around with the AMAZING staff from Field Roast (You know, like it was no big deal...).
We sampled top-secret-not-yet-marketed goodies (upcoming blog post on THOSE very soon, stay tuned!). We shared slices of the finished cakes and truffles with everyone.
We met David's wife, and took selfies, and toured the factory and watched their ping-pong tournament and Fran autographed a copy of her cookbook for the staff.
And we were sent home with tote bags FULL of Field Rost products and tee shirts and coupons AND some of their brand-new, not-sold-in-stores items...
Best Day EVER!

Except.... the next day was really great too! 

That was when we actually packed up all the chocolates and tools and utensils again and headed to the Seattle Waterfront convention center for the Chocolate Festival.
Fran did a lovely demo on chocolate desserts (of course!) to a standing-room-only crowd while several other helpers and I tried to look helpful and knowledgeable backstage (HA!).
Afterwards we toured the festival; I had dragged my favorite person, Shaun, along for the ride to Seattle, and he was very willing to help "assist"... (besides taste-testing he WAS a huge help!) we looked, listened, learned what's trending in the chocolate world, rubbed elbows with (apparently?) very-important-chocolate-people.

We got to watch demonstrations, learn about the countries of origin and the many eco-friendly methods being used for growing and harvest.
We held cacao pods, ran our hands through bins of cocoa beans, learned about the different roasts and best of all, we SAMPLED! There were so many, many chocolates available for sale and display (most vendors had dairy-free options).
Second Best day ever!

I realize Fran keeps up this pace all the time (do you follow her on Facebook? The woman is crazy-busy every moment of every day!) but... whew! What an adventure! I was wound up, worn out, star-struck, over-chocolated, super-excited and full of more chocolate facts than I thought were possible!
And a huge, HUGE thank you to Fran for letting me come along on such a grand adventure!

With permission, I'm sharing this recipe for the Chocolate-Orange Sesame Truffles that were demo-ed at the Festival. The recipe is from Fran's lovely book "Vegan Chocolate: Unapologetically Luscious and Decadent Dairy-Free Desserts". Everyone (seriously!) needs to own this book.

Chocolate Orange 
Sesame Truffles

Fresh orange juice and finely minced orange zest are cooked with thick tahini (sesame seed paste) and a small amount of agave syrup to make the liquid for this unusual chocolate truffle with a slightly chewy texture.
While this truffle ganache is not perfectly smooth, the truffles taste very creamy, and the coating of lightly toasted black and natural-colored sesame seeds provides color and crunch. Note that raw tahini is sweeter than the roasted kind, but either can be used. Serve this chocolate confection after a Middle Eastern or Moroccan meal.

Makes 20 to 24 1-Inch Truffles 

Photo credit: Kate Lewis
4 ounces dark chocolate (70 to 72%), finely chopped
(Fran used Theo Chocolate Dark Orange and it was deeeelicious!)
Finely minced zest of half a medium organic orange
3 tablespoons freshly squeezed orange juice
1/4 cup agave syrup
1 tablespoon or roasted tahini, stirred
1 1/2 tablespoons natural sesame seeds, lightly toasted

1 1/2 tablespoons black or white sesame seeds, lightly toasted

Put the chocolate into a small heatproof bowl.
Mix the orange zest and juice and agave in a small saucepan. Cook over medium heat just to a boil.
Reduce the heat to low and add the tahini, whisking vigorously. The mixture will thicken immediately. Do not be concerned if it looks broken or curdled. It will smooth out as you whisk. Simmer the mixture for 30 seconds until it is shiny and smooth. Remove from the heat.
Wait about 30 seconds until the mixture is no longer steaming and pour it over the chocolate. Cover the bowl with a plate. Wait 1 minute and then stir until the chocolate is completely melted. Remember: the ganache will not be perfectly smooth.
Cool to room temperature, stirring a few times with a silicone spatula.
Spoon into a small shallow container and refrigerate uncovered for about 2 hours until the ganache is firm. The ganache can be covered and refrigerated at this point for up to 1 week.
Make The Truffle Centers
Remove the ganache from the refrigerator. Use a spoon to scoop out 1-inch pieces of ganache and another to push the ganache off the spoon into the container. When half the ganache has been used, roll the pieces into logs about 1 inch long, washing and drying your hands as needed. (If at any time the ganache becomes too soft to shape, refrigerate until cold and proceed.)
(*OR cut into small cubes with a very sharp knife like we did to make samples).
Cover and refrigerate the truffle centers for 15 to 25 minutes to set for before shaping and finishing with the sesame seed coating.
Coat The Truffles
Mix the sesame seeds in a small bowl. Sprinkle about 2 tablespoons on the bottom of a shallow container. Put a few logs at a time into the bowl of sesame seeds and roll until lightly coated. Pinch the ends to form the oval quenelle shapes (like the picture, OR press each side of the little cubes in sesame seeds, squaring up the edges as you go). Place the finished truffles in the refrigerator to set for 35 to 45 minutes.

Recipe reprinted with permission from Vegan Chocolate: Unapologetically Luscious and Decadent Dairy-Free Desserts, © 2013 by Fran Costigan, Running Press. Photo credit: Kate Lewis


Susan said...

That all sounds like so much fun.

Mollylivebearer said...

I definitely should have been there. Yes ma'am! :)

Bianca said...

Oooh, what a fun time!! I just love Fran. She's the sweetest, and I bet her chocolates were too!!!!

GlutenFreeHappyTummy said...

those chocolate orange sesame truffles sounds out of this world!