Blackberry Merlot Milk Chocolate Truffles

If you know me, or are a long-time reader of this blog, you know that I am definitely NOT a fan of the dry red wine-chocolate food pairing combo.  However, that doesn’t mean that I am against putting the wine in the chocolate and cooking them up together! It’s a whole different world of flavor when cooking with wine, as opposed to the dynamics of pairing. (Sounds like a good idea for another blog post!)

This is a recipe that I use in all of my wine and chocolate pairing classes.  While I still hold true to my (against) stance for dry wine and sweet chocolate pairings, this recipe puts the wine in the chocolate  where the flavors can work wonders together.   

Truth be told, this is one of my all-time favorite recipes.  Take a bottle of Merlot, pour yourself a glass, and use the rest to make these irresistable truffles. 

Blackberry Merlot Milk Chocolate Truffles  

First Step:  Prepare to get your hands (and your kitchen floor) covered with chocolate!

Ingredients:

  • 6 oz. Heavy Cream
  • 1 Pound Milk Chocolate (Any good brand chocolate disks or batons)
  • 1 Bottle of Merlot (the bigger and richer the better…I use Blackstone Winery)
  • 1 cup Blackberry Preserves, pressed through a sieve to remove seeds
  • ½ Pound of Chocolate, any type (for dipping)
  •  Ganache, frosting, or fondant for decorating (optional)

Procedure:

  1. Pour yourself one (4-ounce) glass  of merlot; enjoy.
  2. Pour the remainder of the merlot  in a saucepan.  Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer until the wine is reduced to about a half a cup.  Set aside to cool.
  3. While the wine is simmering, chop  the milk chocolate into small pieces.  Set aside in a large bowl.
  4. Heat the cream to a simmer.  Whisk in the preserves and carefully  heat back to a simmer.  Remove from  the heat and stir in the syrup you made from the red wine.
  5. Pour the still-hot cream mixture over the chopped milk chocolate pieces. Stir until the chocolate is completely melted and blended in.  Cool the mixture until it is just  slightly warm to the touch. (Place bowl over a double boiler if you need more fire power to melt the chocolate, although milk chocolate usually melts fairly easily.)
  6. Put the mixture in the freezer for  at least one hour to firm.
  7. Use a spoon or small scoop to  divide the mixture into walnut-sized pieces.  I find it easiest use a small scoop, and to dip the scoop into hot water every few scoops. When they are finished; drop the pieces onto a baking sheet.
  8. Freeze for about an hour, or overnight. 
  9. To form the truffles, roll the scoops one by one between the palms of your hands to round them out.  Place them back onto the baking  sheet.  At this point the soon-to-be  truffles can be frozen until you have the energy dip them.
  10. Melt your dipping chocolate over a double boiler. 
  11. Drop the cold truffles, one at a  time, into your bowl of dipping chocolate.  Remove them with a fork, and allow the excess chocolate to drip back into the bowl.  Note:  the better the quality of chocolate you use, the easier it will be to “dip” with.
  12. Place the dipped truffles on a parchment-lined tray. If you are feeling creative, decorate the tops with a little drizzle of chocolate or nice purple fondant.  Let stand until the chocolate and  decorations are completely set.
  13. Enjoy immediately, or hold the  truffles in the fridge for up to a week. You can keep the truffles in the freezer for as long as you like, and that way you can have a red wine chocolate fix any time you need one!

If you just must have a wine and chocolate pairing, I would recommend a slightly sweet to very sweet red wine.  Some good examples are late-harvest Zinfandel, Ruby Port, Brachetto d’Acqui, sweet wines made from Black Muscat, and sweeter versions of Sparkling Shiraz. 

My all-time favorite late harvest zin is “Zinnie de Potelle” out of Napa.  Graham’s Six Grapes Ruby Porto would also be a great pairing. 

The Bubbly Professor is…”Miss Jane” Nickles of Austin, Texas.  missjane@prodigy.net

Daring Pairing: Champagne and Chocolate!

Careful with that….

Champagne and Chocolate

This one sounds like such a good idea!  How Romantic! How Decadent! How Divine!

Now…stop right there! Come back to reality!   This daring pairing is very controversial, which is a geeky way of saying that a lot of people love it, and a lot of people hate it.  Just do a web search on “Champagne and Chocolate” – you will find a million articles saying how great it is, and a million articles saying how awful it can be.  Just wait until Valentine’s Day…nearly every wine blogger on the planet will have something to say about truffles and bubbles.

The problem is…chocolate is a very hard food item to pair with wine.  Chocolate is loaded with sweetness, fat, and bitterness…all taste components that are tough on wine.  There certainly are wines that can handle chocolate as a pairing partner, but they tend to be red (to handle the intense flavor and the over-dose of fat), and sweet (to handle the intense sweetness of the chocoalte).

When I make a recommendation for wine with chocolate I usually suggest Ruby Porto, Late Harvest Zinfandel or Banyuls for Bittersweet Chocolate and Brachetto d’Acqui or Tawny Porto for Milk Chocolate.  Hmmmm…none of these wines bear any resemblance to that most delicate of bubblies…the wine we call Champagne.

So…when we pair this bruiser-of-the-food-world up with the most delicate of wines, chaos ensues!  To be technical about it, the wine’s acidity and bitterness come forward, the delicate flavors are crushed, and what you are left with is something that reminds you of fizzy mouthwash!

A Better Idea with Chocolate:

Demi-Sec or Doux Champagne…that’s sweet Champagne to you newbies, and it gives the wine the ability to handle the sweetness in the chocolate. 

Rosé Champagne, Cava Rosado – pink bubbly has an extra dose of fruitiness, which allows the wine a better chance to still taste good when paired with something sweet.

Brachetto d’Acqui – Italy’s perfect match for chocolate:  slightly sweet, slightly red, slightly bubbly.

Sparkling Shiraz – A far cry from Champagne, I know – but slightly sweet versions are a good choice to pair with chocolate.

 In other words, if you want to pair bubbles with chocolate and want the wine to taste good…choose a sparkling wine with some sweetness or some pink or red color…at least the wine has a chance!