Saturday, February 16, 2013

We're Moving

Hello Everyone

Philosophy and Madeleines is moving to a new home.

Find us at

Hope to see you there!


Sunday, February 10, 2013

Chocolate Truffles

Friends of mine had a house warming yesterday and I decided to try out making chocolate truffles which I could take with me. I'm fairly sure everyone has made chocolate truffles at some point - I feel it's the sort of thing you make at some point in your childhood - and they're supposed to be super easy so I thought it would be a doddle and I could spend the afternoon transcribing interviews.

But that was before I split the ganache.

Now, I have made ganache many, many times in my life. When you work in a pastry kitchen, making ganache is something that happens almost every day and at home, in Jozi, I often made ganache as part of cupcake icings. So you'd think I would know what I was doing. Turns out I totally don't.

I followed the instructions. I chopped the chocolate finely. I heated the cream to scalding point. I poured the cream over the chocolate and let it sit for thirty seconds. I gave it a stir. And then I made a fatal mistake. I decided to take a photograph of the cream and chocolate swirl. This photograph, to be precise.

And that is where it all went wrong. When I came back to stirring it, the mixture had cooled too much to melt the rest of the chocolate. No problem, I thought. I can just buzz it in the microwave for 20 seconds and it'll melt and be lovely. WRONG. The microwave somehow cause the mixture to split and my pretty, glossy ganache turned into a vile butter, chocolate mixture with the most awful texture.

I managed to keep calm. Never mind the tight time schedule I was under, the light failing and the ganache needing to thicken at room temperature etcetera. I googled (thank goodness for Google) 'split ganache' and found a site with three options for bringing back ganache. (This was after I tried simply stirring in more cream and making the situation far, far worse.) The first instruction was to beat the ganache with an electric whisk, for a minute or two. I tried that. It failed. The second instruction was to add in some liquid glucose. Sadly I am not the type of person who has liquid glucose in the house (although I am totally going to hunt some down now.) So I skipped straight on to instruction three. It said to heat up some cream, about half the volume of the split ganache and then to pour (or in my case spoon) the ganache into the cream, slowly, stirring the whole time until you have a pretty, glossy ganache again. I guesstimated that I had about a cup of ganache and weighed out 100g of double cream. This I heated and then slowly whisked in the split mess. And you know what, the whole thing came back together. It was like a miracle.

After that it was fairly easy although more time consuming than I'd originally thought. I cheated and sped up the process by placing the ganache in the fridge where it threatened (what a surprise) to split again. This I managed to prevent by beating it every fifteen minutes or so whilst it cooled. The truffles were totally worth the effort, intense with chocolate flavour and quite bitter. (I made sure to sample one before taking them with me.) I made mine plain, just with some vanilla extract but you can add in whatever flavours take your fancy really.

Chocolate Truffles
Adapted from Paris Sweet
250g dark chocolate 
125ml double cream
1/2 tsp vanilla extract

100g dark chocolate
100g white chocolate
2 tbsp cocoa powder
50g dark chocolate, chopped

Heat the cream and vanilla until the cream boils. In the meanwhile, finally chop the 250g of chocolate and place in a mixing bowl.

Pour the boiling cream over the chocolate and stir until the mixture emulsifies and is smooth and glossy. If you have time, leave it on the counter to cool and thicken. If you don't, place it in the fridge but stir it as it cools to prevent it from splitting.

Once it's thick, roll the ganache into truffles, using your hands. It's a messy job but quite fun. I kept cooling my hands under the cold water tap. Return the truffles to the fridge to harden.

Temper the two different chocolates. I did this by melting half the amount in the microwave and then putting the unmelted chocolate into the melted chocolate and stirring until the mixture cooled to just below body temperature. Place the chopped chocolate in another bowl and the cocoa powder in a fourth bowl. I coated some of the chocolates in the melted white chocolate and then rolled them in dark chopped chocolate whilst the rest I coated in dark chocolate and then rolled them in cocoa powder. I used forks to extract the chocolates.

Allow the truffles to set before consuming.

Monday, February 4, 2013

Rice Pudding with Bay

This weekend was one of those weekends you sometimes have as a single person. No agenda whatsoever and little but work (in my case, transcribing many interviews) to look forward too. I recently re-watched Easy A and it was like the weekend Olive spent avoiding Rhiannon's camping trip - the kind where you make up dates with boys because you'd rather not confess (or it is unacceptable to confess) to having spent the weekend painting your dog's toenails and dancing around like a crazy person. Or, as in my case, baking variations of blood orange cupcakes. I squeezed more blood oranges than I care to admit too - both for the cupcakes and also for a blood orange curd which, after three attempts, I gave up on on Sunday morning - sometimes you do just have to admit defeat. I rounded the incredibly uneventful weekend off by watching House of Cards on Netflix, which, let's face is brilliant and disturbing, and probably totally explains the need to eat rice pudding at 9.30pm on a Sunday. I know, I know, likening oneself to an American teen movie is probably not the best thing to be confessing on the cusp of turning thirty (dear god) but teen movies just make like, so much sense. Who doesn't relate to The Breakfast Club/10 Things I Hate About You/Say Anything/Bring It On/Pitch Perfect and think they explain most of life?

So the rice pudding craving was no random thing. I blame this post and this post. I read both last week and I think rice pudding has been playing on my subconscious ever since. Smitten Kitchen and The Wednesday Chef are two of my favourite food blogs and when they say something like 'you need to put a bay leaf in your rice pudding', it does cause me to wonder about it. But an 8pm craving does mean that you don't want to boil rice and then drain it and then cook it for several hours. You want rice pudding NOW. Well, I did anyway. So I made my own version of rice pudding, with the additional, obligatory bay leaf; that only takes 30 minutes and can be left on the stove whilst you watch House of Cards, or whatever show you're currently addicted too (I have Girls arriving later this week). You do just need to get up and check it every once in a while otherwise you'll end up with rice burning on the bottom of the pot - which is exactly what happened to me but I managed to salvage it and it was still beautiful.

The bay leaf adds an earthy note to the pudding, rounding out the vanilla and making the dish more complex and flavoursome. I made it with whole milk and double cream - I can only guess at the fat content and calories, no doubt huge - but I think it is all the better for it. When I usually have rice pudding cravings I make it with skim or semi-skimmed milk because that is usually what I have at hand, and it's good but this was a kind of out-of-the-universe indulgence. The kind that should, really, be saved for an occasion of sorts. This makes enough for two large-ish portions. I saved half and had it for breakfast this morning, reheating it with extra milk on the stove as it sets thick and stodgy.

Rice Pudding
2 cups whole milk
1/4 cup golden caster sugar*
1/2 cup pudding rice
1 bay leaf
1/2 tsp vanilla extract**

Heat the milk, bay leaf, sugar and vanilla to scalding point. Add in the rice. Bring back to the boil and then turn down the heat to very low so the milk bubbles gently. (The term 'puttering' comes to mind.)
Stir regularly so that the rice doesn't catch on the bottom. After about 25 minutes it should be thick and the rice should be creamy but still have a slight bite to it. Add in some extra whole milk and then a good dollop of double cream. Stir for about another five minutes, until the cream is incorporated and the pudding is thick but still 'sighs' when you put it into a bowl. (By 'sighs' I mean it still spreads slightly and isn't one sticky ball.)
Allow to cool for five minutes before dishing up.

*If you don't want this epically sweet, decrease the sugar content slightly, by a tablespoon or so
** Or half a vanilla pod