I like odd flavor combinations. Chocolate and chili powder. Lime and cranberries, tamarind and coffee, salty and spicy. I think part of it is that I’ve always been a bit of an adventurous eater, and part of it is that I was lucky enough to live in the Philippines for several months and experience the “odd” flavor combinations that are commonplace in southeast Asia (how’s that for a sweeping generalization!?). Things like soft-shell crab Pringles (to. die. for.), pandan in place of vanilla in baked goods, pork floss and vanilla custard (mmmm….BreadTalk).
It sort of reinforced my suspicion that common flavor combos are just that: things people commonly throw together, not so much out of critical analysis and careful plotting, but based more on what they’re used to pairing, and which ingredients they have easily to hand. Nothing wrong with that, but I love the challenge of taking an idea (let’s say, for the sake of argument, a chocolate truffle), and expanding on it an a carefully plotted, no holds barred, extravaganza.
So every so often, my soft spot for odd flavor combos meets my raging baking habit,
and Frankenstein’s monster is born and they have beautiful babies.
It all started when I signed up for a treat contest at work for Halloween/Fall treats; we had to draw a theme out of a hat (boy did I ever have my fingers crossed for Pumpkin!) and I picked…Vampires. Oh boy. Just what the world needs, more Vampire shenanigans. I grumbled all the way back to my desk, but the wheels started rolling. I had really wanted to make pumpkin truffles, and I saw no reason I couldn’t stick with the truffle theme…but…how to tie it in to vampires? Make truffles with tiny chocolate capes? Fangs? Bat wings? Garlic? Why, yes! By golly, I’ll make them garlic!!!
Thus the genesis of my garlic truffles. No one would see them coming! They’d be the ultimate Trick or Treat Truffles (depending on how much my unsuspecting co-workers liked garlic!).
A test batch was in order, because I was torn whether to use roasted garlic (for its smooth mellow almost buttery flavor), or raw garlic (with its sharp, almost bitter, bite)…it’s hard to know what would taste best with the chocolate. So we made a batch of basic ganache, then split it into two test batches.*
The verdict? Roasted garlic was a bit too mellow. But the raw garlic had just the right bite to it! Add a pinch of salt, and it was amazing. A little bitter, a little salty, a tiny bit sweet (I used bittersweet chocolate for the most part), and garlicky!
If you want to make your own sneaky Trick or Treat Garlic Truffles, here’s what I did…
Trick or Treat Truffles
- 8 oz. good bittersweet chocolate, chopped
- 3/4 c. heavy cream
- pinch of sea salt
- 2-4 cloves finely minced fresh garlic (OR 1 head roasted garlic, papery skins removed)
- cocoa powder (for rolling)
- Combine chocolate and cream in the bowl of a double boiler (as you can see in the photo, my version of a double boiler is a clear glass bowl set over a 2qt. saucepan with a bit of water in the bottom…it doesn’t have to be fancy!).
- Heat the double boiler over a medium flame, stirring constantly once the water begins to simmer. Keep the water at a medium simmer (to cut down on steam eruptions) and stir till mixture is completely smooth and integrated. Be sure to scrape the bottom of the double boiler insert so the chocolate doesn’t scorch and stick.
- Remove ganache (yes, you just made ganache…aren’t you fancy!) from heat and stir in garlic. Use less if your garlic is very pungent. If using roasted garlic, be sure to smash the garlic into a paste so it is integrated smoothly.
- Wipe down the edges of the bowl with your garlic ganache, cover with plastic wrap or foil, and refrigerate till firm enough to work with (an hour or two).
- Scoop ganache out and roll into a ball, then roll in cocoa powder (so they don’t stick together). If ganache gets too soft to handle, pop it back into the fridge to firm up for a few minutes.
- Set completed truffles on a plate and refrigerate till ready to serve (they will hold up for 3-4 hours at room temp before becoming super soft). Leftovers (should you be so lucky!) will keep in the fridge for a few weeks.
Just look how deceptively “normal” that truffle looks!
What’s your favorite “odd” flavor combination?
*It was at this point my husband started making Frankenstein’s Monster references. I thought it was a very scientific approach!