Truffled Mac and Cheese

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One of my many favourite comfort foods that I crave as the weather gets colder – mac and cheese.  But not just any mac and cheese, TRUFFLED macaroni and cheese is the way my palate likes it.  I love anything homemade so it made total sense that my mac and cheese would be as well.  It’s a relatively simple recipe that I followed from Williams-Sonoma’s collection of recipes.  The only muscle work involved really is the cheese grating (which I don’t really mind when the aroma of truffle is in the air!)  Bon Appetite!

Ingredients:

  • Unsalted butter for baking dish, plus 4 Tbs. (1/2 stick)
  • Salt, to taste
  • 1 lb. elbow macaroni
  • 2 tsp. truffle oil
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp. sweet paprika
  • 1/2 tsp. Dijon mustard
  • 2 cups milk
  • 1 cup half-and-half
  • Freshly ground pepper, to taste
  • 1 1/2 cups shredded Gruyère cheese
  • 1 1/2 cups shredded white cheddar cheese
  • 2 Tbs. minced fresh chives

Directions:

Preheat an oven to 375°F. Butter a 9-by-13-inch baking dish.

Bring a large saucepan of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the macaroni and cook, stirring occasionally, until not quite al dente, about 2 minutes less than the package instructions. Drain and transfer to a large bowl. While the pasta is still warm, drizzle with the truffle oil and stir well.

Return the saucepan to medium-high heat and melt the 4 Tbs. butter. Add the flour, paprika and mustard and cook, stirring well, until no visible flour remains, 1 to 3 minutes. Whisk in the milk, half-and-half and a generous pinch of salt and bring to a boil. Simmer, whisking frequently to smooth out any lumps, for 4 to 5 minutes. Remove from the heat. Add a pinch of pepper and 1 cup each of the Gruyère and cheddar. Stir until smooth.

Pour the cheese sauce onto the macaroni, add the chives and stir well. Transfer to the prepared baking dish and top with the remaining cheeses. Bake until the top is lightly browned and the sauce is bubbly, 25 to 30 minutes. Let stand for 5 minutes before serving. Serves 6.

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Chocolate Truffles

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I was running dangerously low on my chocolate stash that I brought back from Belgium so I did the next best thing – I made chocolate truffles!  It really isn’t as hard to make as long as you keep everything nice and organized in the kitchen.   I followed this chocolate truffle recipe which yielded about 50.  Trust me, that isn’t nearly enough to supply my chocoholic friends and family, let alone myself – so feel free to double up the recipe on my behalf.   Enjoy!

Chocolate Truffles

Ingredients:

1 cup (237 ml) heavy cream
2 tsp (25 g) granulated sugar (light corn syrup is even better because the truffles keep better. Use it if you have it.)
12 oz (336 g) dark chocolate, I used Callebaut
1 T (14 g) butter

cocoa powder, for coating
finely chopped almonds, for rolling (or any other nuts)

1. Chop that block o’ chocolate fine! I like to shave it into small pieces with a serrated knife. If your pieces are too big, they may not melt. Once chopped, put the chocolate in a dry bowl.

2. Pour the cream, sugar and butter into a pot and bring to a boil over high heat.

3. Once boiled, remove from the heat and pour it all at once over the chocolate. If some pieces of chocolate aren’t submerged, push them under with a spoon.

4. Let this sit on the counter for a minute.  The heat from the cream will penetrate the chocolate and melt it.

5. Now start whisking. To get the best texture, it’s important to create a good emulsion. The better the emulsion, the smoother the texture of the truffle will be. Start from the center and whisk fast in small, concentric circles. You can see how the center is getting shiny, and that’s a telltale sign that things are going well.

6. Scrape it into another clean bowl, and refrigerate it for a couple of hours, just so the ganache has a chance to harden.

7. When you come back to it a couple of hours later, the surface will have dulled over and that’s ok. The texture should be firm but scoopable.

8. Dig the mellon baller into the chocolate and twist, all in one motion. No hesitation.

9. Give the melon baller a good wack or two against the side of a parchment covered sheet pan and the chocolate should pop right out. You can get your bearings with a few practice balls. If they’re stubborn, give them a little nudge with a spoon. If some of them look all crazy, you can always roll them between the palms of your hands. But I like them imperfect.

10. Prepare two bowls, one filled with cocoa powder and one with finely chopped nuts for rolling. I used almonds.

11. Roll some of the balls in cocoa powder, and some in the nuts.

12. Enjoy!

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Raspberry Sorbet in Lemon Cups

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I love using lemons in a lot of my baking (and cooking).  Whether its lemon tarts, lemon margaritas or lemon chicken, that fresh lemony scent always puts me in a happy mood.  However, when a recipe only calls for fresh lemon juice, I feel like I always end up wasting the rest of the lemon.  So why not use them as decorative little cups for serving raspberry sorbet when guests are over?  It’s adorable and functional at the same time.  Enjoy!