guava

Today I’m thrilled to release my version of Ina Garten’s chocolate truffle recipe for our friendly chocolate truffle challenge AKA truffle mania. Participating with me is the instigator of the flavorful event, Heavenly, from donuts to delirium; Shelly from the singular Franish Non-speaker, the wonderful Joumana from Taste of Beirut; charming Karen at Gourmet Food and lovely Su from Suvelle Cuisine. A couple participants are new to me: Erika Beth from Life’s too short to skip dessert and the Baking Addict from the More than Occasional Baker, but I’m thrilled to get to know them through this fun cook-off (and I hope that my story hasn’t mis-represented New York for you Erika). If you haven’t already, then you must check out these spectacular sites, and often.

incredible black and white chocolate truffles with guava and coconut

incredible black and white chocolate truffles with guava and coconut

Here’s the link to Ina Garten’s recipe.

Personally, I’m not much of a chocolate fan. I know, sacrilege. What can I do? I prefer fruit sweets. That’s why I was excited by similar truffle recipes that use grapefruit or passion fruit.

My inspiration came from our lovely friends Luís and Savio, visiting us from Vitória, Brazil in the days leading up to this post’s release. (They like chocolate, thank you very much.) Not only did they come to San Francisco, we all traveled together to New York. Hence “black and white” after the incredible New York cookies of that name. Plus that’s still the fashion in the Big Apple: though really it’s black and black and black and a wee bit of white. Tee-hee 😀 The guava and coconut are tropical elements to bring it all together.

relentlessly glamorous in black in New York

relentlessly glamorous in black in New York City

classic New York black-and-white cookies

classic New York black-and-white cookies

view of Vitoria, Brazil

view of Vitória, ES, Brazil

I made a variant of Delia Smith’s chocolate coating to color my truffles in their partial white robes.

Mine don’t look like truffles you’d find at a fine chocolate shop. They’re too irregular in shape and wonky looking. Oh well. They taste great (or at this point I should write, “tasted great,” as they’re long gone now.)

The guava flavor was not nearly as intense as I had hoped. I was thinking luscious dark chocolate and rich fruit. The chocolate part worked but the fruit was a dim shadow of my imaginings. Next time, I’ll just add more guava purée or perhaps try to find the actual fruit and fill the center of the truffle with a tiny morsel.

black and white chocolate truffles with guava and coconut

½ pound bittersweet chocolate nibs (I used Ghirardelli)
½ pound semisweet chocolate nibs (generic Whole Foods here)
1 cup heavy cream
½ cup guava purée
3 tbsp cognac
cocoa powder or confectioner’s sugar
½ pound white chocolate nibs (Ghirardelli)
1 tsp walnut oil
dried shredded coconut

Pour bittersweet and semisweet chocolate nibs in a medium bowl.

In a small saucepan, bring heavy cream and guava purée to a boil, quickly remove from heat, let sit for 20 seconds, then pour over chocolate through a fine mesh sieve. Whisk cream mixture into chocolate until the later has melted. Whisk in cognac. Set aside, covered at room temperature, for an hour.

Cover a large baking tray with wax paper. Using two teaspoons, scoop chocolate from bowl in small rounds. Place on wax paper. These will be irregular but don’t worry! Place in refrigerator and let chill for about 20 minutes.

very roughly shaped truffles

very roughly shaped truffles

Dust your hands with cocoa powder or confectioner’s sugar. Between palms, gently and quickly shape each chocolate lump into a spherical one. Return to refrigerator.

Using a double boiler or a bowl over a pot of hot water, melt white chocolate and walnut oil. Remove from heat when just melted and a bit runny. Pierce each truffle with a long wooden skewer. Quickly dip in white chocolate then in coconut. Remove finished truffle with another wooden skewer onto wax paper. Repeat with all of them.

Chill briefly and serve.

you, too, can feel like a blue elephant after eating one too many of these black and white truffles

you, too, can feel like a blue elephant after eating one too many of these black and white truffles

{ 18 comments }

sweet guava memories

by Heguiberto on February 22, 2010

Guava is a very popular fruit in Brazil, particularly in my home state of Minas Gerais, where it’s grown all over. As a kid I remember climbing guava trees in the woods behind my house and gorging myself on those delicious, flavorful fruits. Mmmmm!

pedra do baú - Mantiqueira Mountain Chain


luscious red guava

Guava can be pinkish-red or white. They have a “tropical flavor:” sweet and a bit sour with a tad of bitterness. They also smell sweet, sometimes too sweet; almost like something is about to rot and get very scary, but in a good way. I favor the reds over the whites, just like wine.

Besides eating the fresh fruit you can make it into killer desserts and jams. I especially liked the guava jam my mother used to make. My bro Nelson still makes it the way she did.

guava at a Brazilian fruit stand

Ripe guava has a thin peel that can be yellowish or light green. Just under the skin there is a thick grainy layer of fruit surrounding a very smooth and creamy pulp that has hundreds of little rock-solid seeds. The pulp is the most flavorful part but be careful with your teeth. The entire fruit, including the skin and seeds, is edible.

To make a delicious, creamy guava jam, however, you only use the pulp. Really it’s more of a “guava butter” than jam though I eat it in the same way that I would jam. If you’re going to make it, the recipe’s fairly straightforward. Just split the guava in halves. Using a spoon, scoop out the pulp and place it in a large pan with sugar. Cook it for a while. Then strain to remove the seeds and store in a jar. It is very laborious, but well worth it. I do not know the proportion of guava pulp to sugar. If you’re really interested, e-mail me and I’ll get the exact recipe from Nelson.

charming mountain city of São Bento do Sapucaí

On my recent trip to Brazil for my nephew’s university graduation, there was no homemade guava jam waiting because everyone was busy doing other stuff. Too bad! Luckily I came across a road-side shop on the way to visit my hometown, Olegário Maciel, MG, that sold it. I bought a few jars from that vendor. Their shop is located somewhere close to the city of São Bento do Sapucaí in the beautiful, green Mantiqueira mountain range that divides the States of São Paulo and Minas Gerais.

This particular shop has been there for quite some time. They sell all kinds of Brazilian sweets that have not quite yet made it to mainstream supermarkets, like guava jam. Guava comes in at least a dozen different ways, including jams, jellies, candies, whole fruit in sweet syrup and firm “bars.” Delicious!

Mantiqueira mountain range in fog

I brought back several jars of guava products in my luggage. The guava jam and fruit in syrup pictured here are just two examples. We’ve already eaten through almost two jars of the jam since our return about two weeks ago, spreading it on bread or cake for breakfast. Another great way to serve it is as an appetizer with cheese and wine, similar to quince jam and cheese with wine.

I’ve seen fresh white guava for sale at the Alemany Farmers’ Market. I spoke with one of the farmers who says she also grows the red but the season was later in the year. Guava jam is sometimes available at specialty and Brazilian markets. When we lived in Queens it wasn’t that hard to find. In San Francisco, I’ve mostly seen the guava bar variety and guava mixed with doce de leite at Brazilian markets. If you do bump into guava jam at your market don’t hesitate to try it. I guarantee you’ll enjoy it.

preserved guava jam and fruit

{ 8 comments }

Corn bread in Brazil is sweeter than the American version, and normally it’s eaten for breakfast, instead of with lunch or dinner. Brazilian corn flour, called fubá; though ground coarser than wheat flour; is finer than American corn meal. I grew up eating a lot of these corn cakes in the Brazilian hinterlands.

Looking back it seems that at all times there were shortages of something or another. Flour was one of those staples we could not produce ourselves. Temperate weather crops, like wheat, did not yield well enough in the tropical lands of South America. Wheat flour was used parsimoniously, really as a treat instead of an every-day thing. My mother mixed it with other types of flour, mainly corn and cassava (aka, yucca if you please).

slice

Refrigeration was another issue. We did not get electricity until 1972! Milk would go “bad” very frequently; turning into yogurt. For some reason my mother never liked it, except when she used it to make her famous bolão azedo. Otherwise that goodness would become a feast for the pigs. I know they liked it because I was the one who fed them! If we only had known how to make Prosciutto de Parma, we’d have become rich! Well here I am reminiscing about my hometown, Olegário Maciel …. but wait, I need to go back to my cake!

The cake is made just plain and simple with corn flour and yogurt, often times flavored with whatever spices that might be available from our dispensa (pantry). These additional items might include: fennel seeds, cinnamon, dried coconut, guava paste, etc. Yesterday I made the cake using all of the above and it turned out really good. Steven and I loved it, and I hope that you do too. You can find guava paste and fubá at Brazilian stores or sometimes in specialty food stores. So in belated honor of mother’s day, here’s the recipe:

key ingredients

key ingredients

Ingredients:

1 ½ cups corn flour (fubá)
½ cup wheat flour
1 tbsp baking powder
2 egg whites
1 egg yolk
2 tbsp canola oil
2 tbsp grated coconut
1 cup sugar
1 pinch salt
1 cup yogurt
1 cup guava paste, cut into cubes and dusted with flour
½ tsp fennel seeds
1 pinch ground cinnamon

How to:

Preheat oven to 350F
Grease and dust with flour a baking dish (14’’ X 9””)
Mix together eggs, oil and sugar for a couple of minutes.
Mix in yogurt and coconut
Mix in corn and wheat flours, and salt, fennel seeds and cinnamon. Add baking powder and mix again.
Pour over greased and dusted baking dish, scatter guava cubes over cake, bake it for 35-40 min or till a tooth pick inserted in the center comes out clean.

finished corn cake

finished corn cake

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