11 November 2008
chocolate and chili: the good, the bad, and the ugly
For BAKE MY DAY this week, I decided to work with chili peppers (any member of the Capsicum genus). I guess I liked the idea so much, that I decided to get started a little early, and it seems like the past few days have been all about chilis. And what better to pair it with than chocolate? So, here they are: The Good, The Bad (well, at least the "not great"), and The Ugly.
Chocolate Chili Truffles:
After making my Chocolate Matcha Truffles several weeks ago for the first time, and realizing how simple and wonderful it is to make truffles, I decided to try again, this time using cayenne, cinnamon, and a pinch of salt to flavor my truffles. The result was delicious! It takes a couple seconds for the spice of the cayenne to hit, but it provides a nice "after spice," as one of my friends called it. Just as you've realized the flavor of the chocolate, your brain is suddenly hit by the heat, providing quite a pleasant sensation. I used this basic recipe from RecipeZaar and added 1 teaspoon of cayenne, one teaspoon of cinnamon and a pinch of salt. I also rolled them in cocoa powder mixed with a little bit of cinnamon, and then, using a drop of melted chocolate, stuck on thinly sliced pieces of (mild) dried chili peppers.
Sugar-free chocolate chili truffles:
Well, they actually weren't too bad, but they aren't nearly as good as truffles with a little sugar. My friend is on a sugar-restricted diet and she also has an allergy to soy, so she's definitely been wanting something a little sweet in her life. I used the same basic recipe for my truffles, but instead of using my regular bittersweet chocolate chips, which contain sugar and soy lecithin, I melted a bar of 100% cacao. I was hoping that the natural sweetness of the cashews would at least kind of help to counter the bitterness, but unfortunately, the cocoa was still too strong. My friend said that she can use small amounts of stevia on occasion, so I added a couple of teaspoons. I'd never used stevia before, and perhaps I used a little too much (a little of it goes a long way), because it seemed to have a slightly off flavor, something I'd usually associate with artificial sweetners. I also lightly toasted some coconut shavings to bring out their natural sweetness and rolled the truffles in the coconut to (hopefully) add a little sweetness. The stevia flavor wasn't too noticeable, and the taste was less bitter, so it did help a bit.
The result: not great. But not terrible.
I do think this recipe is worth experimenting with, especially if you have soy allergies of if you would like to use more natural sugars. If you aren't on such a sugar-restricted diet, I think it could still be worthwhile to make these with agave nectar; that way you are using a sugar that won't spike your blood sugar as much, and you can control the sweetness of the truffles to your liking.
After putting some chili in my chocolate, I decided it was time to put a little chocolate in my chili. I remembered this post from The Urban Vegan and threw in a couple handfuls into my chili recipe. It may not look very pretty, but it sure was a delicious way to end the past few chilly nights.