Edible Christmas fruit tree and a wish for a very Happy Holidays!

Every year around this time the same question starts popping up into my mind: what should I make for the holiday gatherings? I think everyone has atleast a few dashing staple stars; these are the dishes that you can whip up with no worries at-all, with very less preparation and they are sure to please every tummy! I am always awed by all the fellow food-bloggers who whip up these delightfully scrumptious baked goodies; seeing the pictures of which make me wish I had more of a baking woo-doo :) But with my limited baking talent all I feel comfortable taking to any holiday gatherings is usually a banana nut bread or some fruit cake!

This year though when I saw this chocolate truffles post on Yasmeen's blog I knew exactly what I wanted to make! Chocolate truffles are a type of chocolates made with a chocolate ganache inside and coated with various coatings, the most ubiquitous of which is cocoa powder but powdered sugar and toasted nuts are common coatings too. Ganache is just a fancy name for smooth melted chocolate with cream (low-fat milk or heavy cream). Occasionally ganache is flavored with flavorings such as vanilla and espresso. Chocolate truffles are named for the look-alike wild truffle fungus/mushroom variety which is a delicacy. Now the truffle-police will insist that the real chocolate truffles must be uneven and rustic to resemble the mushrooms they are named after.. but I am raised in a round and perfect laddoo tradition and what the heck I took pride in making my truffles perfectly circular and round so the pictures will look better (don't tell the truffle-police!) :D

Anyway, so here is how I made my truffles:
Recipe source: multiple truffle posts mainly Yasmeen's post, an old Joy-of-Baking article describing anatomy of a truffle and a step-by-step photo post from here.
For ganache:
8.5 ounces of dark chocolate (I used Trader Joe's Belgium chocolate brand with 54% cocoa)
1/2C cream (I used mixture of heavy cream and 2% reduced fat)
1/2tsp vanilla extract
1tsp instant espresso coffee

For coating:
cocoa powder
toasted crushed slivered almonds
powdered sugar
(The posts linked above have a much detailed description of the method, but here is what I did in a nutshell).
  1. Cut the chocolate into as many thin pieces as possible. My chocolate slab was very thick and so I chopped it very roughly into big pieces.
  2. Heat the cream just until the boiling point. Add espresso and mix well.
  3. Pour the cream over the chocolate pieces and let it stand for a minute. At this time if your chocolate was very finely chopped then the cream will be able to melt the chocolate. If instead you had big chocolate chunks like mine, you will need a double-boiler method to melt the chocolate. For double boiler method: heat water in a large pan to barely simmering. Place the pan holding the chocolates and cream over the simmering water and continue stirring until the entire chocolate is melted.
  4. Add vanilla extract to the melted chocolate and mix it really well to get a smooth consistency. This is your ganache, cover and let it chill in refrigerator for overnight.
  5. Remove from fridge when you are ready to make truffles. Place each of the coating ingredients in a separate plate.
  6. Using a mellon scooper scoop out a chocolate bowl. Roll in your hands for a smoother round shape. (Heat from your hand will start to melt the chocolate making it easy to reform into a round ball).
  7. Roll the chocolate balls in one of the coating plates making sure the truffle is thoroughly coated. Place  the truffle on a parchment paper.
  8. Ready to serve! Serve them at room temperature or refrigerate for later use.
These were heavenly and had a perfect truffle byte! I forgot to take a photo of the truffle byte, may be next time :-)

I have a lot to be thankful for this season including my friends and family and all of you wonderful bloggers who encouraged me through these initial steps of my blog! Happy Holidays to all! Till next time, leaving you with an edible fruit tree that I made few weeks ago for some decoration:

Edible Fruit Tree - by Prajakta Gudadhe
(Image credit: Saurabh Deoras)

Note: Since many people asked me how this tree was made I am updating this post with the instructions on how you can make an edible tree like this one!
Source: Inspired from a supermarket holiday flier.
1 styrofoam cone (small or medium size) from your local craft store. (I got mine from Michaels or something like this).
Cookie cutters with various shapes (I used a gingerbread-man shaped and a star shaped cutter - similar to these)
Assorted fruits - I used green and black grapes, strawberries, kiwis, dried cranberries and a honeydew melon.
Cilantro garnish.
  1. My styrofoam cone was green in color, if you only have a white one then I suppose you could drape some green paper on a white cone or attach fruits very densely so it resembles more like a tree trunk.
  2. Using the cookie cutters create various shapes out of the melon slices.
  3. Attach toothpicks to the styrofoam cone. Attach one piece each of a fruit to a toothpick. (Think free-form; as the tree starts building you will know more about which fruit combinations are looking better and how densely packed you want your tree to be).
  4. Continue building the tree as dense as you want!
  5. Use cilantro leaves as grass garnish.
  6. Enjoy your new edible fruit tree!!