Sweet Ideas and a Truffle Recipe from a Chocolatier's Test Kitchen

Jane Morris’ house kitchen started seeing much more action when she closed her favorite Washington, D.C., chocolate boutique in March 2013 and began testing recipes for her new online shop, J. Chocolatier.

Producing fine chocolates is a sensitive procedure, along with the sexy D.C. summers and also her older store’s historic construction hadn’t been a good mix. Since the move meant she would be spending a lot of her time analyzing new recipes in the home, it was time to renovate her 150-square-foot kitchen. “For 2 years I lived together with all the ugliest granite counter referred to mankind,” Morris says. “It was olive and black, and reminded me of camouflage.”

Morris had budgeted $2,100 for improvements. “More than half of this was the job to install the counter and tile,” she states. She painted the kitchen countertops, trim, walls and cabinets herself, and she implemented tung oil into the new counter tops.

Have a tour of her new location — and learn how to make her”Ugly” Butter, Orange and Ginger Truffles.

Kitchen in a Glance
Who lives here: Jane Morris and her cat, Kitty
Location: Washington, D.C.
Size: 150 square feet
Price: $2,100, such as labor and materials; design by Morris

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Morris says her brand new kitchen is perfect; it’s open into the dining area, and a door contributes to the rear patio. “It is efficient, easy to clean and open to the remainder of the home,” she states. “Through careful editing of my kitchen tools, I’ve everything I need and nothing else.”

All the changes were cosmetic, and Morris did lots of her own labor, which helped to keep the cost down. The walnut countertop cost $400; tile and grout, $125; the sink, $189; labor, $1,300; and paint, $86.

Before Photo

BEFORE: Morristested a Couple of shades of gray on the walls before settling on Tranquility from Benjamin Moore.

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AFTER: Morris worked with a builder from Kevin Gallager Construction to install brand new countertops and tiles, which took about two days. Now she’s in love with the butcher block countertops and with the bigger, more practical sink installed.

Countertops: Walnut, Williamsburg Butcher Block, Lumber Liquidators; faucet: Domsjö, Ikea; tile: Lowe’s; wall paint: Tranquility, Benjamin Moore

Before Photo

BEFORE: “The previous countertop is what inspired the whole cosmetic upgrade,” Morris says.

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AFTER: Morris added subway tile for a backsplash to what had been an easy painted wall. After trimming the cabinets, she painted the bottom ones a dark gray.

A cushioned mat made of timber facing the sink assists with the long hours Morris stands as she produces her special confections. While she does test chocolate recipes in her home kitchen, all of the production for her online shop and exclusive events is accomplished in a nearby commercial kitchen where she rents room.

Bottom cupboard paint: Narragansett Green, Benjamin Moore; top cupboard and ceiling paint: Snowfall White, Benjamin Moore; mat: Branch Mat, CB2 (no longer accessible)

Watch how to put in a subway tile backsplash

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Morris made this little drying rack by filling a tray with collected wine corks. The piece sits on the windowsill.

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A coffee lover, Morris keeps an Astra milk steamer, a drip pour-over coffee maker from Beehouse and a Nespresso espresso maker within this devoted coffee station, set on a stainless work surface against an exposed brick wall.

Seen in one of the bowls is Morris’ growing collection of corks, with that she intends to make another bigger drying rack.

Wake Up Your Kitchen With a Deluxe Coffee Center

Workbench: stainless steel, Ikea; metal shelving: Grundtal, Ikea

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Replacing large appliances was not in Morris’ budget. Tacked on the left side of the fridge is a sign that once hung from the window of her chocolate store for four decades. It reads: “This is a chocolate store. It is a happy location. Please come in!”

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For a working professional with a little row home kitchen, it’s all about creative storage solutions to the many tools of the trade. For your dining area adjacent to the kitchen, Morris bought a stainless bench and butcher block top to function as both a table and a storage space for large pots and pans.

Bench: stainless steel, Ikea; butcher block: oak, Numerär, Ikea; wall paint: Tranquility, Benjamin Moore

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In addition to being used for storage and eating, the dining table acts as a buffet for parties and additional counter space when Morris is preparing a meal or analyzing a chocolate recipe.

Propped on the table is a massive canvas print of a Gustav Klimt drawing.

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Fresh herbs from large pots on the kitchen patio are frequently utilized as components in Morris’ chocolates and baked products. This season her pots are full of rosemary, thyme, dill, green onions and basil. Other years she’s developed edible and lavender organic flowers for garnishes on cakes.

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“Ugly” Steak, Orange and Ginger Truffles (from Jane Morris, J. Chocolatier)

Yield: About 30 bits
Active period: About 30 minutes
Total time: Approximately 11/2 hours (not including letting the butter come to room temperature and the ganache set)

8 ounces or 1 cup premium semisweet or bittersweet chocolate (recommended: Callebaut or Valrhona)4 ounces or 1/2 cup unsalted European-style butter, room temperature (recommended: Plugrá)1 oz or 1/4 cup corn syrup1/2 teaspoon ground ginger (or more to taste)Zest of half an orangeFew drops of orange essential oil (recommended: Boyajian)Bowl of cocoa powder (some cups; can be consumed afterward)16 ounces or two cups premium-quality black chocolate (not commercial chocolate chips or baker’s chocolate; recommended: Valrhona, Callebaut, El Rey or Scharffenberger)

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Cut the butter into about 1-inch cubes and let it come to room temperature (about an hour).

2. Melt the semisweet or bittersweet chocolate in a double boiler, or put it into a shallow stainless steel or glass bowl over a pan of simmering water. Melt gradually and stir. Be mindful not into the overheat chocolate or let any drops of water to get into the bowl of chocolate. The chocolate ought to be warm to the touch but not too hot.

3. Whip that the room-temperature butter and corn syrup together until fluffy. If you are using a stand mixer, then set it to medium rate and whip for about a couple of minutes. If you are using an electric hand mixer, then it might take a moment or two longer.

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4. Once the butter mixture is fine and fluffy, then fold from the hot chocolate from step two. Mix by hand using a flat rubber spatula. The mixture will seem like silky, such as thick cake icing. Add the orange zest and ginger to taste and stir fry a little more.

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Morris adds a bit more ginger powder into the ganache before mixing again. On the wall is another useful storage alternative, a magnetic strip from Ikea for holding knives.

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5. You have made chocolate ganache. Cover up your ganache mixture with plastic wrap. Press it straight on the ganache to keep outside air, moisture and other scents. Allow the ganache sit for one or two hours, or until it’s thick enough to roll into balls. You may refrigerate the mixture at this point, but you will need to test it every 10 minutes or so to make sure it’s still pliable enough to roll.

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6. Melt the dark chocolate gently in a double boiler or in a glass or metal bowl over a pot of gently simmering water. Take care not to get any drops of water from the chocolate, which could cause the chocolate to seize and turn pasty. When the chocolate is all about three-quarters melted, remove it from the heat and stir it with a rubber spatula until completely smooth.

7. Get the container of ganache, a bowl of cocoa powder and a fork. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper or plastic wrap. Use a melon baller or teaspoon to scoop up little balls of ganache. Don’t make them too large; they ought to be no bigger than 1 inch in diameter. Instantly roll them into little spheres into your hand and set them apart.

8. After all of the balls are rolled, dab a little of the melted chocolate to the palm of the hand. Immediately roll the truffles from the chocolate, then toss them into the cocoa powder. Work quickly so that the chocolate doesn’t melt in your hands. Don’t be concerned about them being perfectly shaped. They ought to look like truffles plucked from the ground, and therefore ought to be somewhat “ugly.”

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9. Gently coat the balls of ganache with avocado and eliminate them using a fork by gently scooping underneath the truffles. Shake the excess cocoa off by gently tapping the fork against the side of the bowl. Take care not to stab the fork tongs to the balls of ganache.

10. Set the finished truffles in little paper cups. The heap Morris made here will visit lucky family and friends. Store them in the fridge in an airtight container for up to two weeks. Allow them to come to room temperature before serving. You might need to coat them in cocoa if it’s soaked in.

“The best part is the smell … and seeing that the finished product,” Morris says. Drink the truffles using coffee, black tea or champagne.

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Morris takes a rest on her front porch.

See more photos of the kitchen

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