Food Photography and Cooking: Coconut Rum Sorbet with Dark Chocolate Crisp and Basil

Coconut Rum Sorbet with Dark Chocolate Crisp and Fresh Basil

[tweetmeme]When vegan friends were coming over for dinner a couple months ago I wanted to make a dessert that they could eat. The first thing that came to mind was sorbet. I found a simple recipe for coconut sorbet on Epicurious and decided it needed a little rum in it, too (instead of the rum extract that the recipe called for). Recently my roommate Chris suggested I use some of his fresh basil and dark chocolate crisps. This photo is the result!

This is the sort of thing you probably don’t want to make more than a few times a year — and very tiny portions. There’s a lot of fat and sugar in this dessert. The recipe is very simple: one can cream of coconut (not coconut milk!), one cup of ice cold water, one tablespoon rum. I use a stick blender to make sure the consistentcy is smooth. Pour into a 9×9 glass baking dish, cover with plastic wrap and place in the freezer then stir every 30 minutes for three hours. Thanks to the cream of coconut, the sorbet will never entirely freeze so you can keep it in the freezer for a while. But the chances of it lingering for more than a few days are unlikely. Especially for a dessert that was referred to as “sex on a plate” at a recent party.

The Secret To Making Really Good Chocolate Truffles

Chocolate Truffles

Like most recipes, chocolate truffles are not that difficult to make if you can follow directions and have some time. I use a simple recipe of dark chocolate, cream and cocoa powder on epicurious.com by chocolatier Robert Linxe. I started making chocolate truffles a couple years ago on a whim. I thought they’d make tasty winter holiday gifts: and I was right! (I registered geniustruffles.com in 2007 and one of these days I might actually do something with it. Until then …)

If there is one “secret” to really good chocolate truffles, it’s the chocolate itself.

Dark chocolate, never milk chocolate!

I always use dark chocolate: never (ever) milk chocolate. Cardullo’s in Harvard Square is my favorite spot to buy chocolate. If you prefer organic chocolate, Harvest Co-Op in Central Square (Cambridge) has an impressive selection. That’s where I picked up the chocolate for the truffles I made at the #pinkslipparty at Betahouse Friday night.

Use a variety of chocolate percentages: 55%-70%

Each batch of truffle ganache I make uses three to four different types of chocolate: from 55%-70%. The percentage refers to the percentage of cocoa mass (chocolate liquor), the essence of chocolate, that’s in the chocolate bar itself. Milk chocolate has a low percentage. It’s barely “real” chocolate. I found out two years ago I have diabetes so milk chocolate is definitely not something I can eat anyway. And white chocolate? Not a good choice for truffles either. White chocolate doesn’t have any cocoa solids and therefore, doesn’t have a cocoa classification (percentage). When I think of white chocolate it makes me think it would probably be about as tasty as eating lotion. Dark chocolate has a much lower sugar content (lower carbs) than milk chocolate or white chocolate so cooking with it can still be part of healthy eating.

Combine several different brands of chocolate bars

Some of my favorite brands to use for chocolate truffles include Vosges (a piece of their Calindia chocolate bar with dried plums, cardamom and walnuts is a good match with a cup of chocolate tea from Tealuxe), Dolfin, Côte d’Or and Valrhona. Somerville chocolate maker Taza’s 70% dark stone ground chocolate bar adds a little texture to the truffles. I’ve been experimenting with how much of their chocolate to include and it seems like about one ounce is a good amount.

So that’s the secret to really good chocolate truffles: buy dark chocolate and mix up a few varieties!