Everyday I’m Trufflin’
By Brandon Hernández, West Coaster
December 8, 2015
Somehow, I’d never heard of Andrea. It’s possible that you haven’t either. But after a San Diego Beer Week campaign that saw her collaborate with such big name venues as Gordon Biersch, Mike Hess Brewing, KnB Wine Cellars, Monkey Paw and South Park Brewing, loads of craft beer enthusiasts are now familiar not only with her name, but with her confectionery handiwork as the namesake sweets maven behind local business, Andrea’s Truffles. It’s fitting she should collaborate with craft brewers. It’s their entrepreneurial spirit that partially inspired her to start her own business.
“I graduated from the California Culinary Academy in 1999, but left the biz in 2006 to have a normal life,”Andrea Davis recalls with a chuckle. “But when I revamped my truffle recipe, it was something everyone seemed to want. It seemed like everyone was starting their own business. It was such a great time and awesome vibe, so I just went for it.”
Her first and staunchest supporters early on were Hanis Cavin and Sara Stroud, the co-owner couple behind the Carnitas’ Snack Shack chain. Eateries that champion craft beer as passionately as they do pork in all its delicious forms, the provided Andrea a nice introduction and indoctrination into the flavorful ales being brewed throughout San Diego. The symbiosis that could be attained between those beers and her sweets fast became obvious.
“When I first started trufflin’, I spend a lot of time at Carnitas’ Snack Shack in North Park. Different brewers were always in and out of there. Hanis would always give them a truffle and a new relationship would begin,” says Andrea. “When they got their beer-and-wine license, Hanis handed me two bottles of Green Flash Double Stout to make truffles with. After that, it was all over…in a good way. There is such a sense of community with my beer-centric pals, so much support and love.”
From Valentine’s Day beer-and-truffle pairings at Mike Hess Brewing in North Park to a Truffles On Tap pairing series forThe Patio Restaurant Group to custom truffles built around the flavor profiles of specific beers, she is like a sugar-fueled whirlwind swirling all over San Diego County. Andrea is wild about all of her craft beer collaborators, but says her latest source of pride and joy is a carrot cake truffle commissioned by beer bar baron Scot Blair to pair with a beer his brewpub, Monkey Paw, had a hand in producing with Escondido’s Stone Brewing Co. and award-winning local homebrewer Juli Goldenberg called 24 Carrot Golden Ale.
A Belgian strong ale brewed with lactose, carrot juice, raisins and spices, it was billed as carrot cake in a glass. The truffle’s white chocolate coating creates a creamy, buttery component to mirror the cream cheese frosting elements of the beer while actual carrot cake, cinnamon, ginger and raisins take care of the rest. It’s a tasty example of Andrea’s creativity and ability to step up to even the most challenging and outlandish of beers.
A trio of holiday-ready recipes (including the one for those carrot cake truffles) are the gift of this generous dessertier this yuletide season. Further evidence of her giving nature will be provided onDecember 11 at the newly debuted AleSmith Brewing Co. tasting room in Miramar when her specially crafted gingerbread truffles are paired with AleSmith Noël, a traditional Belgian-style Christmas ale brewed to support the Beer to the Rescue anti-lupus fundraising campaign. Consider them sweets from the sweet.
Basic Chocolate Truffles
Yield: 16 truffles
16 oz. heavy cream, room temperature
8 oz. semisweet chocolate
2 oz. unsalted butter, cubed
16 oz. dark chocolate (preferably 70% cacao)
Mix the cream and semisweet chocolate in the top vessel of a double boiler over low heat. When the chocolate is almost melted, turn off the heat and whisk until completely incorporated. Whisk the butter into the mixture, several cubes at a time. When the ingredients are completely incorporated, pour the chocolate into a foil pan lined with plastic. Place the pan in the refrigerator and let cool for at least 12 hours.
Remove the pan from the refrigerator and cut the chocolate into squares or use a ball-scooper to dole into equal-sized segments. Melt the dark chocolate in the top vessel of a double boiler over low heat. When the chocolate reaches 80 degrees Fahrenheit, maintain that temperature, being sure not to overheat it. One at a time, dip the truffles in the chocolate to coat then place on a Sil-Pat lined sheet pan to cool and set. Serve.
Andrea’s Tricks to Trufflin’
- Whatever liquid you add to your melted chocolate, cream and butter mixture (i.e., stout, liquor), make sure you are taking the same amount of heavy cream. You do not want a runny mixture.
- While cooking a stout down to thicken before incorporating into the chocolate mixture, add a little brown sugar. And don’t be afraid to cook the stout down to an almost tar-like consistency. A 64-ounce growler of beer should reduce into no more than 3 or 4 ounces of liquid. When adding it to your chocolate mixture, add a little at a time. This way it won’t clump up.
- If you don’t have a thermometer, a good way of tell if the chocolate is the proper temperature is if it is warm like a the serving temperature for a baby’s bottle.
Carrot Cake (AKA “Blair-rot Cake”) Truffles
Yield: 50 truffles
Paired with Juli Goldenberg / Monkey Paw / Stone 24 Carrot Golden Ale
20 oz. white chocolate (preferably Callebout)
8 oz. cream cheese, softened
3 Tbsp heavy cream
1 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
pinch kosher salt
1 Tbsp plus pinch ground cinnamon
prepared carrot cake (preferably produced using Betty Crocker’s carrot cake recipe), cut into chunks
1 lb. white chocolate, for coating
1 cup raisins (optional)
1 cup walnuts (optional)
sea salt flakes (optional)
In a large stainless steel bowl, combine 20 oz. of white chocolate with the cream cheese, heavy cream, ginger, vanilla, salt and 1 tablespoon of the cinnamon. Transfer the mixture to the top vessel of a double boiler over low heat and stir occasionally until the ingredients are completely incorporated. Remove from heat and transfer the mixture to a sheet pan lined with parchment paper. Spread the mixture into an even layer, then gently push chunks of the cake into the chocolate. Cover snugly with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.
Remove the pan from the refrigerator. Remove the plastic wrap then invert the chocolate-coated cake onto a Sil-Pat-lined baking sheet with a one-inch lip. In the top vessel of a double boiler, heat half the remaining white chocolate and cinnamon. When the mixture is melted, turn off the heat and stir in the rest of the chocolate. When the mixture is smooth and lukewarm, drizzle the white chocolate over the carrot cake or cut the cake into equal-sized square portions and dip in the melted white chocolate, one at a time, returning each truffle to the pan to cool once coated. Garnish with raisins, walnuts and sea salt, and serve.
Yield: 14 ounces
8 oz. granulated sugar
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
pinch salt (preferably from La Jolla Salt Co.)
14 oz. blanched hazelnuts, whole or pieces
Mix the sugar, vanilla and salt together in a sauté pan over medium heat. When the mixture is halfway melted, stir in the nuts and continue stirring until the mixture takes on a golden-brown color and there is a shiny gloss over the nuts. Remove from heat and spread the mixture over a sheet pan lined with parchment paper. Let cool. Serve or transfer the nuts to an airtight container for storage.