Almost two years ago, I entered a baking contest at Steel String Brewery, one of my favorite local establishments. Judges from surrounding bakeries judged contestants, as they created original desserts that contained Steel String’s Thick Freakness Imperial Stout. While I was a bit nervous to participate in my first culinary competition, I was excited by the challenge to include one of my favorite beers in a sweet treat. I ended up winning the contest, and I’m now stoked to share my recipe for Texan Truffles with y’all.
Most people who know me are aware of the deep love I have for my home state, Texas! While I certainly wish I could change some things about the Lone Star State (*cough* the politics *cough*), I find myself frequently missing the bright sun, hot temperatures, friendly natives, and of course, delicious food.
The proud Texan and her truffles.
Fortunately, I designed a recipe for the contest that combines my identity as a proud Texan (Pecans are the official state nut of Texas, and pecan trees are the official state tree) with my appreciation for a nice, stiff drink. What’s not to love about a recipe that consists of only *good* ingredients? I had experience making truffles for previous Friendsgiving celebrations, so I knew that this task would not be outside my confectionary comfort zone. In order to accommodate my pesky lactose intolerance, I substituted heavy cream for wine (seems like a legit swap, right?) when making ganache for truffles in the past, so using beer, especially one with rich chocolate notes, would not be too different. And adding bourbon and pecans…now, how bad can that be? (Disclaimer: I am not, nor will I ever be Ina Garten, but I sure wish I had her job.) After two rounds of making truffles and asking for feedback from my friends, I perfected the recipe and have continued to whip up batches for special occasions.
Best. Prize. Ever. And not a bad beer, if I do say so myself!
Looking back on 2016, winning this contest was definitely a highlight. I won a gift card to Steel String (that I spent in no time at all) and as if that prize wasn’t amazing enough, the ability to design my own special keg of Thick Freakness that the brewery would serve during the 2017 competition. The photo above displays my beer on Steel String’s tap list. However, I would have to say that the best part of the entire event was the support from my friends who voted for my dessert. I joked that I won both the popular vote and the support from the judges, or ‘superdelegates.’ So, without further ado, here’s my first recipe. Let me know what y’all think if you end up making a batch for yourself!
Bourbon Beer Truffles with Pecans aka Texan Truffles
Yield: about 30 truffles
24 oz* of dairy-free semi-sweet chocolate (I use Trader Joe’s)
12 oz stout beer (Founders Breakfast Stout or Old Rasputin Russian Imperial Stout both make excellent substitutions for Thickfreakness if you are not in the Chapel Hill/Carrboro area)
1/3 cup of bourbon
1 cup chopped pecans
1 cup cocoa powder* (for rolling)
- Add the beer to a pot over high heat and stir frequently until the beer reduces by almost half.
- Remove from the heat and stir in the chocolate until melted.
- Add the bourbon and pecans and stir until combined. While the alcohol from the beer cooks out in the process, the kick from the bourbon remains in tact, so you may not want to drive if you eat the whole batch…hah!
- Chill in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours. I usually make the ganache the night before I form the truffles, so I have let this set overnight before as well.
- Using a melon baller or a teaspoon, scoop and roll out the truffles into balls about one inch in diameter.
- Roll the balls in cocoa powder.
- Place on a cookie sheet or plate and chill until ready to serve.
In the past, I have had to add more or less chocolate, depending on the consistency of the ganache. Sometimes, I reduce the beer for less time, which results in me adding more chocolate, and other times, I cut the amount of chocolate if I have reduced the beer for an extended amount of time.
Here, I rolled the truffles in dutch-processed and regular cocoa powder for some contrast. You can also experiment with additions or substitutions to the cocoa power like coconut, crushed pecans, sea salt, bacon (so trendy), etc.