in the kitchen with: johnny battles’ trio of truffles

I can’t decide which was more fun this week: making the truffles or corresponding with Eric “Johnny” Battles, chocolatier and founder of Sweeteeth in North Charleston, South Carolina. I was so curious when Johnny offered a series of flavors, none of which I had ever considered pairing with chocolate. As luck would have it, Grace, Amy and I all chose the same three flavors from Johnny’s list, and that’s what we’re bringing to you this week, a trio of truffles: Rosemary and Vanilla Bean, Star Anise and Rose-Peppercorn, and Toasted Coriander Truffles. I thought featuring something easy and unique that could function as a gift would be great. An assortment of truffles is what my husband plans to give his family members . . . if he doesn’t eat them all first. I plan to do my own experimenting using Johnny’s base recipe. If you make these or experiment with your own flavor combinations, let us know! — Kristina

About Sweeteeth: Sweeteeth was started in 2008 by Eric “Johnny” Battles, a tattooed Alabama boy and self-taught chocolatier. Johnny began experimenting with chocolate while working at EVO Pizza in North Charleston, SC. His bon-bons soon appeared on the dessert menu and quickly became a hit. It wasn’t long before other shops started carrying Johnny’s chocolates, so he decided to dedicate all his efforts to his craft, which is making mouths across the country happy. Johnny’s partner, Christina Vandiver, works on the business and PR side. You can see videos of Johnny making chocolate on Sweeteeth’s website.

 

Each recipe makes approximately 40 to 50 truffles, depending on size

Rosemary Vanilla Bean Truffles

  • 12 oz. dark chocolate (don’t use baking chips or baking chocolate, as these often contain a bit of wax, which could upset the viscosity and mouth feel)
  • 2 oz. milk chocolate
  • 10 oz. heavy cream
  • 3 oz. corn syrup (if you can find it, I prefer glucose, which can be found at most baking stores)
  • 2 oz. unsalted butter, cubed
  • 1 vanilla bean
  • several small sprigs of fresh rosemary
  • rich cocoa powder (for dusting)

 

Preparation

1. If not already in chips, chop the chocolate into tiny bits and combine it with the butter in a medium to large glass bowl; a steel bowl is also fine. Wash your rosemary and add with the seeded vanilla bean to the heavy cream and corn syrup, bringing to a rolling boil. Remove from heat, cover and let sit for 15 minutes.

2. After 15 minutes, bring the cream to a second boil and immediately pour through a strainer over the chocolate mixture, gently agitating until all the chocolate is in contact with the hot cream. Let sit for 3 to 5 minutes. Next, whisk the mixture (ganache) vigorously until it’s smooth and well combined. If any lumps remain, you can put the ganache in the microwave for short 10-second intervals, stirring gently between, until the ganache is completely smooth. If you don’t have a microwave, have a small pot of simmering hot, steaming water ready to use as a double boiler. Careful not to overheat!

3. Once all is right in your ganache world and you’re left with a smooth, velvety chocolate mixture, pour the contents into a clean, non-porous container and cover with plastic wrap. Press the plastic directly onto the surface of the ganache. Place the container in the refrigerator until firm and set. This step could take anywhere from 30 minutes to two hours, depending on your environment.

4. Sift cocoa powder into a large square dish and ready your melon baller! The ones with releasing scoops are preferred, or if you’re looking for a nontraditional-looking truffle, you can just scoop them out with anything from a spoon to your fingers.

5. Scoop your ganache, roll it any way you see fit and drop it in the cocoa powder. Every dozen or so, give the pan a little shake and let the truffles roll around in the powder until completely covered and set aside. Repeat until all truffles are ready to go. At this point, you should have many, many lovely looking bites for you and your friends, and you can either serve them right on the spot or put them in a sealed container and keep them in the fridge for up to two months!

6. For more variety, replace the cocoa powder with toasted nuts, cinnamon sugar or anything you think would taste great on your truffle! For the more adventurous, coat the truffles in tempered chocolate and garnish with anything in reach that’s easy on the eyes and the palate.

Star Anise and Rose-Peppercorn Truffles

  • 14 oz. dark chocolate
  • 10 oz. heavy cream
  • 3 oz. corn syrup (if you can find it, I prefer glucose, which can be found at most baking stores)
  • 3 oz. unsalted butter, cubed
  • 2 tablespoons star anise
  • 2 tablespoons rose peppercorns, lightly ground
  • cocoa powder for dusting

Preparation is the same as above. Replace the rosemary and vanilla bean with star anise and peppercorns. Steep for 15 minutes and follow the same directions. This recipe is all dark chocolate, so it will set up much faster and firmer. To get a creamier truffle, increase the cream.

Toasted Coriander Truffles

  • 10 oz. dark chocolate
  • 4 oz. milk chocolate
  • 10 oz. heavy cream
  • 2 oz. corn syrup
  • 2 oz. unsalted butter, cubed
  • 1/2 cup coriander seeds, lightly toasted until fragrant, lightly ground
  • cocoa powder for dusting

Preparation is the same as above. Replace the rosemary and vanilla bean with toasted coriander seeds. Steep 15 to 18 minutes and follow the same directions.

 

 

Photography by Kristina Gill; white and silver gift box, Liberty of London; salt dishes (white), large square (milk), strips (pink, mint, milk) by mud australia

Why Johnny Chose These Recipes

I chose truffles because they always remind me of why and when I started this crazy business. Truffles, compared to bon-bons, have richer, heartier flavor with more of a bite. I love their smooth textures and roughed-up personalities. I love the hands-on nature and the fact that you literally are forced, for better or worse depending on the yield, to interact with every one of them. I love the gnarly look of them and their raw nature (though, not Kristina’s of course. Mine look like truffles and Kristina’s look like finely tumbled little stones. Thanks for showing me up!).

The rosemary vanilla is my idea of sweet, and it’s about as close to pure “sweetness” that I get. When you steep the tender tops, the rosemary isn’t nearly as astringent and is so soft and floral! I love using vanilla beans as sweetness enhancers, as well; they offer such a pleasant flavor and aroma and help you avoid the sugar high. Star anise has always been a huge flavor for me and always reminds me of my dad because he’s such a fan of black licorice. The toasted coriander, when just lightly toasted and ground, tastes to me like Fruity Pebbles cereal. Instant win in my book.

All in all, I love truffles. One bite, breathe in, last bite. An entire flavor in just a moment, then it’s all gone. A lesson in life itself.

Laura

Kristina, thank you so much for these recipes! Your Rosemary Vanilla Bean Truffles will definitely be tried out at our home – their taste must be heavenly good! And I will even risk to gift them to friends – living in Switzerland that has so rich chocolate traditions – that will be quite a challenge :-) But I am ready to take the risk with such flavor :-)
Thank you many times for the recipes!

Magda

I love truffles, of any kind actually. These look absolutely amazing! The vanilla bean ones are my favorite!

Bonnie McCarthy

These photos are so clean and beautiful it’s ALMOST enough just to look at them. Unfortunately for my diet, they are also inspiring in other ways…good thing dark chocolate is currently on the healthy list. Love the recipes!!

Amelia

These look amazing! Is the corn syrup/glucose necessary, or can it be substituted with something else? (We can’t get it easily in NZ)

Johnny Battles

The invert sugar (corn syrup, or as I prefer, glucose) is there to smooth out the texture and help insure that your ganache is nice and even and doesn’t come out grainy. There’s no rule saying you have to have it in the recipe and it won’t bother the taste at all, just make for a creamier mouth feel. At the end of the day, it’s all free form fun!! Throw in or leave out any and all elements within reach!!

Alli

O.M.G. i cannot wait to make these. I’m a buyer for a specialty food store and have seen all sorts of confections, but these flavor combinations seem wonderfully unique.

Miss B.

I adore this company, Christina is amazing, so happy to see them get such great (and well deserved) exposure!

Valerie Adams

Pouring the ganache into an 8″ square pan, lined with parchment (which overhangs, so you can lift it out) means you can cut your truffles into 64 1″ squares with a knife, and then roll them. MUCH easier than rolling.

Also, cooling on the kitchen counter for two hours and then cooling in the fridge results in a silkier truffle texture, according to Cook’s Illustrated, my cooking bible.

Jaan

WOW! When I make truffles I tend to go with traditional flavors. BUT, love the idea of using herbs/spices to enrich their taste. This will be a must when I make mine in a few days. THANKS! and HAPPY HOLIDAYS!

Eva

Sounds great (rosemary & vanilla bean especially) and I’d love to try this recipe! The only problem is measuring – I am not sure how to convert the respective ounces into grams and milli-/centiliters. Could you please help? Thanks a million!

Don

@Eva
Stick with weight for all the ingredients (Milk is mostly water and fluid ounces are the same as dry ounces for water) with a conversion of 1 ounce = 28.3495231 grams (according to Google).

Bec

I made the rosemary and vanilla as well as the toasted coriander ones last night. They were both amazing! The coriander seeds were a revelation!! Thank you so much for sharing your recipe!

kristina

Hi Eva,

There are a number of conversion calculators on line. My favorite is at GourmetSleuth which allows you to do the ingredients instead of a simple metric conversion.

Laura @ Found Beauty Studio

As someone who just found out 1 hour ago that I am responsible for the Christmas presents for the Christmas celebrating side of my husband’s family, I can’t thank you enough for sharing these recipes! Truffles will be my salvation :)

Kate

I had some of Sweeteeth’s confections at a art opening in Savannah where I was introduced to Johnny via a mutual friend. His chocolates came close (but not quite) to stealing the show and were voraciously snacked upon. Plus the proprietors were very down to earth.

JB

I made the rosemary vanilla truffles for a Hanukkah party last night, and I thought they were incredible! Planning to make more to go with teacher gifts now. I think using just the tops of the rosemary was a great tip – the flavor was really balanced instead of being at all bitter or astringent.

Erica

The base recipe is fantastic – I halved the recipe and made two flavors: green cardamom & chile and Meyer lemon. Both came out amazing! Thank you so much for the post. Happy New Year!

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