February 4, 2004
[Fresh Goat Cheese Truffles]
On Saturday night, we threw a little dinner party at home. A "little" dinner party for eight dear friends : Joseph (originally from Nashville but living in France, whom I met two years ago at an IT recruiting show -- we were struck by a sense of recognition, being equally bored to tears) and his wife Séverine, our almost neighbors Olivier and Anne, whom we had met at Joseph and Séverine's wedding last May, as well as Ulrich and Carine, whom we had met at Olivier and Anne's housewarming party, Ulrich being the friend who works with Pierre Hermé. Pictured here from left to right are Maxence, Carine, Ulrich, Séverine, Joseph, Olivier and Anne (Thanks for lightening up the pic, John! :).
We had the most lovely evening, and it actually wasn't as much work as it may sound : Maxence took care of the main course, and one of our friends (I'll let you guess who that was and wait patiently for the post about it) had kindly offered to bring the dessert.
This felt very unusual, since I'm usually more than happy to take on the whole caboodle, but I'll admit it's really nice that way too, once in a while! So my mission that night was to take care of the pre-dinner nibbles and the first course, and this is what I made to eat with the apéritif : mini balls of fresh goat cheese, rolled in various coatings.
As always in this kind of recipe, the limit is the sky on what coatings to use : rummage through your pantry, check your vegetable drawer or your herb garden, browse through your spice rack, and come up with your own personal selection of nuts, spices, chopped herbs, dried herbs and various seasonings. I used paprika, breadcrumbs and garlic powder, bicolor toasted sesame seeds, and herbes de Provence.
Anything more or less dry and more or less powdered will work. Just keep in mind that it should have enough flavor to shine through the goat cheese and compliment it, but not so much flavor that a full coating of it will choke your guests (unless of course this is your intention). For instance, if you want to use cumin or ginger or red pepper flakes, which is an excellent idea, do mix these with something milder, like dry breadcrumbs or a chopped herb or crumbled plain crackers.
Make sure the marbles are equal in size , choose coatings of different colors, and you will create the prettiest plate of amuse-bouches.
Truffes de Chèvre Frais
- 150 g fresh goat cheese
+ An assortment of coatings : depending on how powdered (paprika) or chunky (chopped nuts) the coating is, you will need anywhere from 1 tsp to 2 Tbsp of it to coat 10 truffles. Start small if in doubt.
- chopped fresh chives/basil/tarragon/mint/cilantro/dill...
- herbes de Provence or other dried herbs
- toasted sesame seeds (black and white)
- dry bread crumbs and garlic powder/onion flakes/red pepper flakes/cumin/ground ginger...
- finely crumbled crackers or oatcakes
- chopped walnuts/hazelnuts/pecans/pinenuts...
- chopped slivered almonds
(Makes about 60 truffles.)
Prepare two large plates : one that will be used as the serving dish, the other to hold the truffles while they're being made. Prepare your coatings (chop/toast/pour) and reserve them in shallow ramequins or small plates.
The cheese is easier to work with when cold, so my advice is to work in three batches : cut out a third of the cheese, and reserve the remaining two thirds in the refrigerator.
Take a small spoonful of goat cheese, about the size of a hazelnut, and shape it into a marble by rolling it between the palms of your hands. Place it on the preparation plate. Repeat with the rest of the first batch of goat cheese. This should yield about twenty truffles. Wash and dry your hands, as they will be sticky with goat cheese.
Roll each truffle in the coating of your choice, making sure it is covered all around, and place it on the serving plate. You can group the truffles with the same coating together, or mingle them for a nice mosaic effect.
Repeat with the reserved goat cheese, in two batches. Cover the plate of truffles loosely with plastic wrap, and store in the refrigerator until ready to eat.
Serve along with toothpicks, either in a (preferably cute) mini-jar on the side, or planted in each truffle. You could even make little skewers, planting the toothpick in a truffle then in a cherry tomato, a slice of carrot or cucumber, a piece of diced ham, a small piece of bread...
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