Wednesday, July 11, 2007

There's A Moon Over Bourbon Street Tonight

I've never really purported that thisI was a foodie blog. I mean, I am a foodie, and I have foodie links to the left, here. But, really, I've never talked too much about things I've made or tried, or whatever.

Then today, I was talking with a friend from overseas, and she said that the whole time she was over there, she would read my blog looking for new recipes, and to see what delectable treats I was making in her absence. Wow. I didn't know I had a following. I'm grinning from ear to ear, but ashamed to admit I'm not baking or cooking much these days. I mean, I'm a single girl. I cook all day for work. I'm not going to come home and make Italian Sausage and Roasted Mushroom Risotto, like the old days. Ohhh, I miss risotto.

But, about a month and a half ago, a friend of mine had a birthday, and in good taste, what did I get him but a nice bottle of bourbon. There are few people I could get that for, and I knew he would appreciate it. Unfortunately it never made it's way to him. I got kind of upset with him about a conversation we had, and ended up opening it up myself one Sunday night. A few days later I ran to Target and got him a DVD set instead. Yeah, I suck, I know. But come on, it was a great series and I think he was never the wiser.

Anyways, now I had this open bottle of bourbon, and honestly, I'm not a big drinker at home. I don't drink alone, that is to say. If someone is here, and I'm entertaining, well, that's a different story. But alone, yeah, that reeks of desperation and singleness. Next thing you know I'll have forty cats roaming around and newspapers stacked as high as windows. Nah.

So I decided I would try to find a recipe to use up some of it, and after scouring numerous bread pudding ones, I decided on making some truffles using it. Yumm! So, in honor of my friends, both overseas and bourbon deprived, here is the recipe I used. I named them Moon Over Bourbon Street Truffles, since that was one of my favorite songs in high school. The recipe worked great for me, was pretty easy, and I'm sure anyone with bourbon sitting around begging to be used will be grateful. For the rest of you, it's the perfect excuse to keep reading to past the recipe, to where I review my three favorite bourbons.

Moon Over Bourbon Street Truffles

For the filling:1/4 cup heavy cream
4 Tbs. (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
6 oz. milk chocolate, chopped (preferably Valrohna or ScharfenBerger)
6 oz. semisweet chocolate, chopped (preferably Valrohna or ScharfenBerger)
1/4 cup bourbon whiskey (I used Basil Haydens)
Dutch process cocoa powder for dusting

For the coating:

12 oz. semisweet chocolate, chopped (again with the Valhrohna or ScharfenBerger)

1/3 cup finely chopped pecans

For the filling: In a heavy saucepan over medium-low heat, combine the cream and butter. Stir until the butter melts and the cream simmers. Remove from the heat. Add the milk chocolate and semisweet chocolate, and stir until just melted and very smooth. Remember that the mixture will cool as you stir it, so it might help to let it sit for a minute or so before stirring, to give the chocolate time to melt. melted and smooth. Mix in the whiskey, then pour into a glass bowl. Cover and refrigerate until firm enough to mound in a spoon, about one hour.

Line the bottom of a baking sheet with parchment paper. Using a melon baler or a teensy tiny ice cream scoop, scoop out the filling into round mounds and drop onto the sheet, spacing them evenly. Cover and freeze until almost firm but still pliable, about 30 minutes.

Spread the cocoa on a flat plate. Roll each chocolate mound between your palms into a smooth ball, not letting it get too warm, then roll it in the cocoa to coat evenly. Return the truffles to the sheet and freeze them while preparing the coating.

For the coating: Line a second baking sheet with parchment paper. Place the semisweet chocolate in the top pan of a double boiler or in a heatproof bowl. Place over but not touching the barely simmering water in the lower pan. Heat, stirring frequently, until melted and smooth. Remove from the heat.

Remove the truffles from the freezer and dust any loose cocoa. Using a fork, gently drop 1 truffle ball into the chocolate, tilting the pan if necessary to coat the ball completely. Slip the fork under the truffle, lift it from the chocolate, and tap the fork gently against the side of the pan to allow any excess chocolate to drip off. Gently slide the truffle off the fork onto the prepared baking sheet. Immediately sprinkle generously with the pecans. Repeat with the remaining truffles.

Refrigerate, uncovered, until firm, about 1 hour. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 weeks. Makes about 18 truffles.

So, now how does one even begin to decide what kind of bourbon to get? Let me make it easy for you! There are three bourbons that I can wholeheartedly recommend, and they span the scale from light, flowery & sweet to "whew, I don't remember a thing from last night". So, really it all depends on your preference and taste.

The first one is Makers Mark, which, of the three I like, is the lightest. Maker's Mark was the bourbon that turned me into a bourbon drinker. It is very well rounded and easy to drink with a light tawny, amber color, and an exotic fruit entry. It is lush, not too terribly deep and malty and known particularly for it's smoothness. I think this is because, unlike other whiskey, there is no rye in it. This makes it much easier to drink, and is a good jumping point into the lovely world of bourbons.

The second one I recommend, is Knob Creek. Knob Creek is what I would call an all around great, general purpose whiskey. It is 100 proof, so you're definitely going to catch the feel of the alcohol going down, but really, isn't that part of the fun? Unlike Makers Mark, Knob Creek is rich, dark, and dense, with a full mouth feel. It is a medium amber color with some fruitiness to balance it's spicy vanilla & nutmeg notes. Someone once told me that Knob Creek has a soft entry and a long finish, but that same person also mentioned that they thought it sometimes had a hint of a Wild Turkey-ish kick, which in my opinion would not be pleasant. But I have never experienced it, and I say all in all it's a wonderful middle of the road whiskey bourbon.

The last bourbon is Bookers. Now, Bookers is an uncut bourbon, which means it goes straight from the barrel to the bottle. So, if Makers Mark is mild and smooth, and Knob Creek is full and rich, then Bookers, well Bookers is a kick in the pants with a leather boot! But as much as Bookers will put hair on your chest, it never compromises it's smoothness or drinkability. It has a deep, tawny amber color with deep hints of vanilla, caramel & smoky oak. It definitely lingers on the tongue, and all the way down, making it not for the faint of heart (well that and the fact that it's 125 proof), but if you're up for a bourbon that balances well against a good steak and cigar, this is your baby!

Did I mention that all three of these are made by Jim Beam distilleries in Kentucky. Really, if you're not going to get your bourbon from Kentucky, why bother at all?

So, that's it for my foodie post. I feel like I have been truer to my passion for for sweets & liquor than to any reputation I have as a culinary guru. Maybe that's because (and yes, I really am going to say this, cliche as it is!), much like my taste in guys, my taste in food tends to gravitate more towards sweet, smooth, strong & all American. Wow. I really did say that. Hahahahah!!!!

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