When Life Gives You Lemons…
One of the really fun things about chocolate truffles is figuring out how to top them. You need to find something that will enhance — or at least not interfere with — the flavor of the truffle. You want something that stands out and looks pretty. And you ideally want something that’s easy to use.
So we top our chile-vanilla truffles with bits of cocoa nibs — basically unprocessed chocolate, a bit bitter but still chocolatey, to blend with the three different ground chiles we use in the ganache. The chai tea truffles are sprinkled with cinnamon. And the lavender truffles are topped with lavender buds, of course.
The mint truffles are a bit different, starting with the fact that it’s not a typical mint flavor. Rather than a chewing gum or after dinner mint, it’s more subtle and soft, layered with the chocolate for a unique mint taste. It tastes this way because we infuse cream and sugar with dried mint leaves, and then blend the cream with chocolate and butter to make the ganache. We then dip the creamy centers in semisweet chocolate and top them with…
Candied lemon peel.
The result is a wonderful layer of flavors, with the tart and sweet of the candied lemon melding with the mint and chocolate. A far cry from your typical mint candy.
Remember when I said you want to top the truffle with something that’s easy to use? Not so much with the lemon peels. It takes a bit of doing to make them — because you can’t just go out and buy good all-natural candied lemon peel dontcha know.
The process is straightforward enough, starting with peeling the lemons. This gives me a nice bowl full of lemon pulp and juice, which would be great for lemonade in the summer but of limited use in the cold fall. (Any suggestions, anyone?). Then you boil the peels, drain, add cold water and boil again, drain, and boil a third time. Something about changing the water gets them nice and soft.
Then a bit of fine work: you need to scrape all the bitter white pith off the peels, which is easily done with a melon baller (notice of melon is an anagram for lemon? huh…). Then you slice the peels into small strips. I started with 10 lemons, and ended up with more than a thousand strips. (Feel free to stop by and count them if you like.)
Two parts sugar to one part water, and boil to a syrup. Add the lemon peels and cook for a few minutes until they’re translucent and you’re ready to go.
I’ll be dipping mint truffles today or tomorrow, so they’ll be ready by Friday — stay tuned for pix of the finished product!