Thursday, March 27, 2008

Chinese Five Spice Truffle

For about two years now, I've ordered all my spices organically from a co-op called Frontier. They come out with a new catalog every quarter and are usually pretty down with new spice trends. Not that "trendy" is always good, but it's nice to see what flavors are "up and coming". I was like a kid in a candy store (chocolatier in a spice store?) on my last order a few weeks ago and I'm finally getting around to a couple of unlabeled jars harboring new and exciting aromas. While I won't disclose what's next on my agenda (a girl's got to keep some secrets, right?), I'm proud to say I've finally decided what to do with my newly acquired Five Spice Powder and Szechwan Peppercorns.

Debuting this week is a new seasonal truffle appropriately titled: Chinese Five Spice. Featuring a curious yet traditional blend of five spices, the formula of which is based on the Chinese philosophy of balancing the yin and yang forces in food, the flavor of the infused dark chocolate ganache could be commonly mistaken as "pumpkin pie" spices to the uninitiated. My blend consists of star anise, cinnamon, clove, aniseseed, and ginger, and leaves a toasted woodsy aftertaste. Dipped in 61% dark chocolate, the finished truffle is topped with a couple of Szechwan Peppercorns. While not a true peppercorn, these rust-colored gems have a unique aroma and flavor that is not hot or pungent like black or white pepper, but slight lemony overtones and creates in the mouth a kind of tingly numbness. I certainly don't expect this guy to have a huge fan-base (at least not like nearly any of my salted goodies!), but it's a flavor profile well worth exploring. Personally, I find the numbing quality of the peppercorn completely fascinating!

1 comment:

Roger said...

I must try this sometime. My family uses these peppercorns in our cooking quite often (we're Chinese), so it would be interesting to see what it can contribute to a truffle.

By the way, here's something cool I used to do as a kid:
Every time my mother made a dish heavy with these peppercorns, I'd swallow a couple mouthfuls before immediately drinking an ice cold water. The resulting sensation in your mouth sends shivers up your spine. Your tongue feels the tingly/numbing effects of the peppercorns magnified ten-fold!