Friday, 9 January 2015

Beetroot & rose chocolates

Beetroot is a rogue ingredient in some chocolate cake recipes... Not everyone agrees it should be there! Paired with rose in ganache, it brings to mind Turkish delight and reveals a beautiful pink tinge as you bite into it. I've made these chocolates the last two Christmases for friends and family, and they've gone down an absolute storm. So many people have asked me for the recipe that I'm releasing it for all to enjoy.

What you'll need:
Beetroots (fresh are best)
50% cocoa solids chocolate for ganache
Double cream
Milk, dark or white chocolate for coating
Rose essence
Cocoa powder (optional)
Fine sugar (optional)

Hand blender
Tupperware with lids
Foam boards (see below for details)
Cocktail sticks
Melon baller or teaspoons
Heatproof bowl
Sauce pans
Whisk or spoon
Time and patience!

Before you start:

1. Read everything first. Some of these steps need to be carried out quite quickly so you'll need to know what you're doing in advance.

2. Yes, I know there are no exact measurements! I do everything by eye and you may not like your chocolates the same way as I do. My philosophy is that you need to do your own experimenting to get a result that you'll love :)

3. I am not a chef! I had to learn how to make a ganache, so I'll tell you how I do it, but my way might not be technically "correct". If you don't want the baby steps, then skip to the end for the summary.

Okay, here's how:

For the beetroot purée, cook the beetroots in the oven whole, till soft. Cool and peel them. You can freeze them and get them out to defrost when you intend to use them. I often do this because the skins tend to peel off quite easily after freezing. Then blitz them till smooth. I use a hand blender.

The purée will be very wet, so I heat it up to get some of the moisture out. Add a few drops of rose essence to taste.

To make beetroot ganache, I simply mix some of the purée into chocolate ganache.

You're going to make the ganache by pouring just-boiled cream into melted chocolate. (Some argue you should pour the chocolate into the cream, but this works for me and you lose less chocolate.) I make dark chocolate ganache for beetroot chocolates but milk chocolate will also work. You don't have to use expensive chocolate, but I always make sure I use one with about 50% cocoa solids. If you use more than about 65-70%, your ganache will be more likely to split.

Melt the chocolate in a heatproof bowl over a pan of simmering water. The bowl shouldn't actually touch the water.

The basic quantities that I use for chocolate ganache are 60:40 chocolate to double cream, so e.g. 60g chocolate to 40g double cream. However, I don't measure any more. I just do it by eye - sometimes I make a slightly more chocolately or slightly more creamy ganache!

When the chocolate is pretty much melted, start heating up the cream. Unless you're making a truck-load of chocolates, you'll probably be using quite a small amount, so it won't take very long to start simmering. You want to catch it as soon as you see bubbles.

Now you're going to pour the cream into the chocolate. You can use a whisk but I find a small spoon works as long as you stir quickly as you're doing it. Either way, I don't seem to have too much of a problem providing I use the right % of cocoa solids. I did have a disaster once when using >70% cocoa solids - the mixture kept separating into oily stuff and lumps. Yummy...

When I took these pictures, the ganache looked like it might separate, but I knew that as long as I kept stirring it would be fine. You should finish with a glossy mixture. Sometimes it looks darker than the chocolate you started with.

Next, fold in the beetroot purée one spoon at a time until you have a mixture that has a bit of a pink tinge. If you've reduced the purée enough, then it shouldn't make the mixture any sloppier.

You probably want somewhere around 1-2 tbsp for the 60/40g mixture but it's trial and error. Just make sure you keep tasting it! You might want to add a tsp or so of (fine) sugar if you find you've made a really beetrooty version, which can taste a bit too earthy. I used a flash in the picture above - the mixture won't look that pink, but you will really see the colour on the side of the bowl as you're stirring the ganache.

The rest is a lot about temperature. Depending on how quickly you want to turn the ganache into chocolates, pour it into a tupperware container and stick it either in the fridge or freezer - if you put it in the freezer, it'll probably need an hour or more. In the fridge, it'll obviously need longer. You can leave it overnight in the fridge and it'll be fine.

Because I'm a nerd, I like to label all my ganache containers, even if I'm only filling one :) But this is also genuinely useful when you're making several different ganaches. You should be able to tell beetroot from, for instance, pumpkin ganache - more on the pumpkin ganache in another post - but you might be experimenting with different %s of cocoa solids or different amounts of flavouring.

While the ganache is getting cold, set up your "chocolatiering work station"! You're going to need a system for coating balls of the stuff in chocolate. Initially, I found this quite difficult to do neatly and ended up wasting a lot of chocolate, but now I have a bit more of a sophisticated system. It involves foam boards, made from an old foam roller...

...but you'll probably find your own way. If you want to try my way, take a bread knife to the foam roller and cut/hack off some one-to-two-inch thick, flat pieces. Then cover in tin foil. You'll also need some cocktail sticks and a melon baller or some teaspoons.

When the ganache is cold enough, I use a melon baller and a teaspoon to make little scoops of ganache and place them carefully on to a plastic lid or a sheet of greaseproof paper on a metal tray. It's at this stage that you might realise your ganache is not cold enough/too cold, or that you got the consistency of the mixture wrong in the first place. This is why I only made small amounts when I was first doing this - I didn't know what the beetroot would do to the ganache. When I'd nailed the consistency, I started making bigger amounts. Basically, you need some "scoopability" and you want the balls to keep their form once you've scooped them, but you don't want the mixture to be rock solid.

Usually, they're not quite solid enough and end up hanging around in the kitchen for a bit too long, so I just pop them back in the freezer for a while and get them out in smaller batches for coating. (Keep checking them so they don't freeze.)

Make sure that other things in the freezer don't touch your balls! *COUGH* 

I think I'll say "blobs" from now on... But they really are more ball-like than that.

Anyway, now it's time to deploy the foam board technique, or whatever coating method you've devised. First, melt some more chocolate - I like to use milk chocolate to coat beetroot & dark chocolate ganache. White chocolate can look pretty too, but you need to be good at controlling temperature and coating the ganache to make sure it all looks neat and there's no ugly leakage.

Slide a knife under your balls... blobs... to separate them from the lid, then take a cocktail stick and push it into the flat base of one of them.

Dunk it into the melted chocolate. You can try to coat the whole thing, but I find it's easier to coat everything except the base, which I do later. Now stick the other end of the cocktail stick into your foil-covered foam board to allow the chocolate coating to set. The foil will catch any drips.

 Repeat with all of your ganache blobs.

If the ganache is cold and solid enough then the melted chocolate should set almost immediately. You can then remove the sticks. You want to avoid your chocolates sliding down their sticks, which is what will happen if you try to spike the blobs before the insides are solid enough. It will make a right mess:

Rest the de-spiked chocolates bottom-up in a clean tupperware container or lid. Now use the remaining melted chocolate to coat the bottoms, covering the holes you made with the cocktail sticks in the process.

Put the chocolates in the fridge or a cold place. (I don't know. Maybe you're posh and have a larder or something.) You can dust them with cocoa powder for a final flourish.

Sorry for not writing a more accurate - or serious - recipe. I'm constantly meddling with the consistency and using different types of chocolate so I don't really have just one way of doing it! It's taken me at least a few hundred chocolates to make ones that I'm really happy with. I've recently made some that I'm going to try to send to Greece. It's cold over there at the moment, so they shouldn't melt in the post, but I've kept these ones fairly solid, just in case!

Skip to the end!
If you know how to do most of this stuff then the short, five-step version is:
1. Oven cook some fresh beetroots till soft, blitz smooth with a hand blender, then reduce on a low heat and add rose essence to taste.
2. Make a chocolate ganache.
3. Mix some of the puréed beetroot into the hot ganache and refrigerate till firm (overnight is fine).
4. Scoop the ganache into balls using a melon baller. Return the balls to the fridge or freezer till solid.
5. Melt some chocolate and coat the balls. Leave to set and dust with cocoa (optional).

Next up:
  • Caramelised pumpkin & chilli chocolates
Post a comment. I'll try to help!