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Artisan Chocolate truffles & the spices that love them: clove

by Chef Eric Cayton

Cloves are derived from the unopened and dried flower buds of a large evergreen tree that was originally indigenous to the Maluku Islands, in Southeast Asia. Today, cloves are cultivated in many different parts of the world, such as India, Indonesia, Madagascar, and Sri Lanka. Cloves have been utilized by mankind for atleast 4000 years, and archeological evidence suggests that humans have used clove for medicinal, as well as culinary purposes since before the beginning of recorded history. In fact, cloves are very effective as a curative for upset stomach, and clove oil is a powerful topical pain reliever, used for dental discomfort , even to this day. For much of the past 2000 years, clove has been so highly valued , and sought after by people, that it was literally worth it's weight in gold.

Clove has an extremely assertive and pungent aroma, and it's flavor can so easily dominate a sauce, or a dish, that one must use caution when adding it to different foods. Scarcely a half teaspoon will suffice when added to the spice blend for an entire large pumpkin pie, or a full pot of chai tea, and yet, it is such a distinctive and unusual flavoring, that to omit it, would surely change the entire taste of the dessert, or beverage, as the case may be.

To add clove to chocolate, you should consider using a very good strong, high quality bittersweet chocolate, with a very high cacao solids content. Something on the order of over 80% cacao would be ideal for these truffles. I usually never venture much over the 70% cacao solids mark for most all of my truffles and bon bons, but for a big, huge, powerful flavor like clove, this is almost a necessity. Unless you are just absolutely crazy about the flavor of cloves, I would never suggest adding it to something like milk chocolate or white chocolate. These less powerful, lower cacao chocolates, would simply be over powered by clove. I would further suggest using a higher fat heavy cream, as well as extra butter for these truffles, as this will also help to mitigate and smooth out the balance of the finished piece.

As a general reference I would blend something like the following, for a well balanced truffle with a very good essence of clove: 250 grams of 80% bittersweet chocolate + 125 grams of heavy cream + 25 grams of very good quality sweet cream butter + 1/2 to 1 full teaspoon (depending upon how much you enjoy the taste) freshly ground cloves. This should yield a nice pile of 25-50 truffles, depending upon how you finish them off! Simply bring the cream and ground clove to the boil and add over the finely chopped bittersweet chocolate. Wait a moment, then stir it up and add the softened butter until smooth and glossy... Enjoy!

Note: This information was accurate when it was published. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the businesses in question before making your plans.

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