Recipe: Espresso Truffles (Dairy Free)

We’ve never made truffles — or any candy, for that matter — but this recipe looks quite tasty and not too complex. Even better, we’ve been looking for ways to cut down on the dairy intake lately, so this is a yummy option without all the unmentionable side affects! Makes about 30 truffles.


Ingredients

  • 10 ounces very dark good quality dairy-free chocolate, chopp
  • 2 T. dairy-free soy margarine, preferably a “stick” variety
  • 1 T. maple syrup
  • 1/3 cup full-fat coconut milk or dairy-free soy half-n-half
  • 3 T. espresso
  • 2 cups (12 ounces) semi-sweet dark chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup cocoa powder, for dusting

Directions

  1. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside. In a heatproof
    bowl, preferably stainless steel, set over a pan (but not touching)
    several inches of boiling water, heat the chocolate and dairy-free soy
    margarine, stirring occasionally, until the chocolate is completely
    melted. Set aside.
  2. In a small saucepan over medium high heat, combine the coconut
    milk and maple syrup, stirring until combined. Heat until steam just
    begins to rise from the surface of the coconut milk, but do not boil.
    Pour the hot coconut milk mixture over the melted chocolate mixture,
    and let stand, unstirred, for 3 minutes. Starting in the middle of the
    bowl and working your way to the edges, gently stir until the mixture
    is smooth and silky. Add the espresso to the mixture, stirring until
    combined.
  3. Transfer the bowl to the refrigerator, uncovered, for 45 minutes,
    removing the bowl from the refrigerator and stirring well every 15
    minutes. After the last stirring (at the 45-minute-mark), place the
    bowl back in the refrigerator for 5 minutes more.
  4. Using a melon baller or spoon, scoop the chocolate onto the
    prepared baking sheet. Place the baking sheet in the refrigerator for
    20 minutes.
  5. Using your hands, roll the chocolate balls quickly to smooth
    (they will get very messy quickly, so I prefer to wear disposable
    gloves, which also help to keep the chocolate colder.) Return the pan
    to the refrigerator for 15 minutes more.
  6. Meanwhile, place the chocolate chips in a stainless steel bowl
    set over a pan of boiling water. Stirring occasionally, heat until the
    chocolate is completely melted and about 90 degrees F, using a candy
    thermometer if available. Place the cocoa powder in a small bowl. Using
    two forks, drop one of the chocolate balls into the melted chocolate,
    and, working quickly, coat the ball with the melted chocolate, shaking
    of the excess and placing it immediately in the cocoa powder, turning
    to coat. Using a clean spoon or two clean forks, place the dusted
    truffle on the lined baking sheet, and repeat until all of the truffles
    are coated.
  7. Return the truffles to the refrigerator for at least 1 hour before serving. Serve cold or at room temperature.

Crew Review: Grinder Buying Guide

In the market for a new grinder? One refrain that resounds amongst espresso enthusiasts is that, if they had it to do all over again, they would have invested in a great grinder to begin with. Next to temperature, the fineness and consistency of the ground is one of the most important elements of excellent espresso.

We had Gail talk us through the different burr grinders that are available at Seattle Coffee Gear — you can watch the three part video here.


Part 1: Introduction to grinders and reviews of the Capresso Infinity and Baratza series — including the Maestro, Maestro Plus and Virtuoso


Part 2: More information on grinders plus reviews of the Rancilio Rocky Doser/Doserless and the new Baratza Vario


Part 3: Final installment discusses the high end consumer grinders available such as the Compak, Macap and Mazzer

Comparing Espresso Machines

With so many different kinds of espresso machines on the market, researching which is the best for you can sometimes feel like popping open a big ol’ can of worms. Superautomatic or semi-automatic? Single boiler, heat exchange or double boiler? Is the E61 brew group really that great?

Our goal here at Seattle Coffee Gear is to provide as complete of a picture as we can about as many machines as possible. We read through user reviews to develop general pros and cons, have our techs test out the machines, experiment with different grinders to see how they perform with different machines and, ultimately, drink way more coffee than we should. All of this informs our YouTube videos, the writing we do here, our product descriptions and — one of the best resources we have — our Selecting an Espresso Machine Video.

If you’re just learning about espresso machines and aren’t sure what will meet your needs and budget, this video is a great place to start. We’ve organized the different machine classes by price range and compared their performance against each other, so you can see technical facts like how hot they brew or which type of pump they have and more subjective assessments such as the ease of use or quality of shot.

We’re constantly updating and adding machines, so definitely check out updated Crew Review videos once you hone in on the right machine for you.

The Grind – April 2009

April’s issue of our monthly newsletter, The Grind, is now up! This month’s edition includes a spicy tropical mocha recipe that is not for the faint of heart, details on our espresso machine recycle program, a tip on keeping your brew head clean and the secret code for this month’s Grind Special coupon.

Check it out — or sign up to receive future editions in your inbox.

Coffee: The World in Your Cup Lecture Series

In January, we wrote about the University of Washington Burke Museum of Natural History’s exhibition called Coffee: The World in Your Cup. The accompanying lecture series begins next week, kicked off by Mark Pendergrast on Tuesday, April 7th. Mark wrote one of our favorite books on the history of coffee and its impact on the world as we know it, Uncommon Grounds, and we’re really looking forward to his lecture — as well as several others in the series.

We’re hoping to make it to all of the lectures and will be writing up a synopsis of each of them here, so folks outside of the Seattle area, or those that can’t give up a Tuesday night easily, can also benefit from an excitingly holistic discussion of coffee and its place in the world.

Here’s a brief run down of the series — if you’re interested in learning more, you can read full details and sign up for the series here. If you plan on attending one, let us know — we’d love to meet you!

April 7: Mark Pendergrast
Uncommon Grounds: The History of Coffee and How It Transformed Our World

April 14: David Robinson
Direct Trade: Bringing the World Community Together Through Coffee

April 21: Eugene Anderson
Why We Love Coffee

April 28: David Browning
A High Quality Cup – Securing Futures by Increasing Coffee Quality

May 5: Paul Rice
Fair Trade – Using Markets to Empower the Poor

May 12: Stacy Philpott
Brewing Biodiversity: Looking at Coffee as an Ecosystem

May 19: Reps from Espresso Vivace, Grounds for Change, Pura Vida & Stumptown
Coffee, Sustainability and Seattle

May 26: Ben Packard & Peter Torrebiarte
Local to Global – Conservation and C.A.F.E. Practices at the World’s Largest Coffee Company

Crew Review: Grindenstein Knock Box

Let’s face it: Some of us are messier than others, and nowhere is this more true than around the espresso machine. Whether its leftover grinds spilling from the grinder, a soupy puck from the portafilter or some drips of espresso on the counter top, we all leave a little mess after we extract.

The Grindenstein knock box was designed to provide an affordable, sturdy, leak-proof and compact option for home espresso lovers everywhere. We dig its bright, durable plastic construction and think its innovative shape that’s made specifically to fit on your espresso machine’s drip tray is a definite plus for anyone with limited counter space.

What we don’t love is that, because of its compact size, it sometimes doesn’t catch all the coffee coming out of your portafilter. Also, the knock bar is a bit thick for our tastes, and we find that it doesn’t let the puck fall as easily down into the container, unlike its skinny-bar brethren.