Bittersweet Chocolate & Chevre Truffles

serves 4-6

6 oz. bittersweet chocolate, chopped
6 oz. fresh unsalted chevre (try it with Appleton Creamery orange chevre!)
2 tbls. confectioner’s sugar
1/2 tsp. vanilla
1/8 tsp. lemon extract
cocoa powder
ancho chile powder
cinnamon

In a stainless bowl set over a pan of barely simmering water, melt the chocolate, stirring til smooth. Remove the bowl from the pan and let the chocolate cool slightly. In a bowl, whisk together chevre, sugar, vanilla and lemon extract until light and fluffy. Whisk in the chocolate until the mixture is combined well. Chill the mixture covered with wax paper for 1 hour, or until it is firm.

Roll heaping teaspoons of the mixture into balls. Divide into 3 bowls. Roll one bowl of truffles in cocoa powder, one in pure ancho chile powder and one in cinnamon. Chill the truffles on a baking sheet lined with waxed paper for 30 minutes, or until they are firm. The truffles keep in an airtight container, chilled for 3 days.

Makes about 24 truffles.

Lemon-Muscatel Sauce for Truffles

24 oz muscatel or orange muscat wine
3 tbls sugar
1 cup lemon juice

Reduce to 1 cup in a non-reactive pot. Thicken with a touch of arrowroot or cornstarch if desired. Add 1 tsp fresh lemon zest strips.

Garnish

peeled & seeded orange sections
roasted filberts
marjoram leaves

Coat a 9-inch plate with the lemon sauce.
Set one each of the three truffles on each plate. Alternate with orange sections. Coat one roasted filbert in the lemon sauce and place in the center of the plate. Sprinkle a few marjoram or lemon thyme leaves onto the sauce.

Goat Cheese Cake with Poached Sour Cherries

For the cake:

2 pints (4 C) sour cherries, pitted
2 T flour
9 oz. goat cheese
1/2 C plus 1 T superfine sugar
1/4 C cornstarch
pinch of salt
1/2 vanilla bean or 1/2 t vanilla extract
5 large egg yolks
5 large egg whites
for the poached sour cherries:
1/2 C sugar
1 C sweet riesling
1 3-inch cinnamon stick
3 star anise
1 pint (2 C) sour cherries, pitted

1. To prepare cake: heat oven to 350 degrees, with racks positioned halfway and two-thirds down. Place a kettle of water over high heat to bring to a boil. Spray oil in 24 4-oz metal cups, 2 12-cup mufin pans or a 9-inch springform pan,and set aside. In a mixing bowl, toss cherries with flour. Divide cherries among cups or scatter in springform pan. Set aside.

2. Using an electric mixer, beat together goat cheese, 1/2 C sugar, cornstarch and salt. Add pulp of vanilla bean or vanilla extract. Add egg yolks one at a time, mixing well after each addition.

3. In a separate bowl, whisk egg whites to soft peaks.Add remaining T sugar, and continue to whisk until stiff but not dry. Mix about 1/2 C egg whites into cheese mixture to lighten it, then gently fold in remaining whites. Spoon batter into cups or pan, filling cups about 3/4 full.

4. Place cups or springform pan, its bottom made watertight with foil, in a baking pan. (Muffin pans will need two baking pans.) Carefully pour boiling water to halfway up sides of cups or springform pan. Cover water-filled baking pans tightly with aluminum foil. Place in oven. If using two pans, place one on middle rack and the other on rack below, switching and reversing pans halfway during cooking to ensure even baking. Bake until cake is puffed and firm to touch, about 20 minutes for individual cakes, about 30 minutes for a single cake. Remove pans from water bath, and allow to cool, then refrigerate until chilled, about 1 hour.

5. While cake cools, prepare poached sour cherries: In a medium saucepan, combine sugar and 1/2 C water. Place over medium heat until sugar is dissolved. Add riesling, cinnamon, star anise and cherries. bring to a boil, then use a slotted spoon to transfer cherries to a bowl. Allow to cool. Continue to boil liquid until it is reduced by half. Remove syrup from heat, and allow to cool.

6. To serve, drizzle cherry syrup on each plate, and place cake on top. Top cake with poached cherries, and serve.

Yield: 24 small cakes or 1 9-inch cake.