Chocolate Truffles, does it get any better? Solid chocolate smoothed with cream, sometimes flavored, sometimes left in their purest form. No matter how you make them, if you love chocolate, you will luxuriate in them. One of my dreams is to wake up completely surrounded by truffles – so many that I have to eat my way out of bed! Can you imagine? What a sight that would be, LOL!
When you look at truffles at the candy store, they seem intimidating. Absolutely perfect, covered in flawless chocolate, each with its own design. You think, “I could never make these,” but you are wrong. They are surprisingly easy to make. They may not be as perfect, but they will be just as delicious!
The ones in the store have been made with chocolate molds and you can certainly use that technique, but it is more advanced and complicated than I want to get on a regular basis. What most Americans don’t realized is that the ping pong ball-sized truffles that we see are a gross exaggeration of what truffles in Europe started out as. Small, intense, and beautifully imperfect, they are little drops of chocolate ganache that are left as is or rolled in cocoa powder. When made this way they resemble the rare and precious black truffle mushroom, thus the name.
They can be flavored in any number of ways. Using liqueurs or alcohol is common and some of the favorites are Rum, Kahlua, Cognac, Creme de Menthe, Amaretto, Champagne, Framboise, Chambord, and Grand Marnier. You can also use oils or extracts such as peppermint, coconut, pistachio, vanilla, almond, raspberry, cinnamon, or orange. A fun thing to do is vary what you roll them in to create a beautiful display. Some of my favorites are chopped nuts (pistachios add a fun green color for the holidays), coconut, powdered sugar, turbinado sugar, or crushed peppermints. What do you think your favorite flavor combination is going to be? Try them all and find out!
If you have stored your chocolate for a while and it has a grayish coating on it, don’t worry. That is just some of the butterfat that has risen to the surface. It may not be as attractive, but it tastes the same and you can use it interchangeably with other chocolates.
Nothing makes forming truffles easier than a spring-loaded ice cream scoop. I use mine all the time for cookies and candies. I never knew how much I was missing until I used one and now I can’t imagine my kitchen without them. I have three, in graduated sizes, from 1 tbsp up to 1/4 cup. I can load a baking sheet with cookies in seconds and the portions are all even. With Christmas right around the corner, these make a really fun stocking stuffer for the cooks in your family!!
So, let’s get in the kitchen and learn to make what is sure to become your most requested gift!!
Luxurious Chocolate Truffles
Jane Evans Bonacci © 2009
Yield: about 75 truffles (1 tsp size) or 25 truffles (1 tbsp size)
1 lb high-quality semisweet chocolate (about 66%) such as Scharffen Berger, Valrhona, or Guittard, chopped
1/2 cup heavy cream
8 tbsp (1 stick) unsalted butter, cut into cubes
1 tsp pure vanilla
2 tbsp brandy or other liqueur
A few drops of flavored oil such as orange, cinnamon, raspberry, etc. (see above for more ideas)
Finely chopped nuts such as pistachios, pecans, or almonds
Candies such as chocolate jimmies, ground toffee or peanut brittle, crushed peppermints, etc.
1 lb semisweet chocolate for dipping
Place chocolate in a heatproof bowl. Cover a baking sheet with parchment paper.
Heat cream in a small saucepan until it is just under a boil. This is called scalding. There will be bubbles around the edges, but they won’t be large. Remove from heat and pour over chocolate. Let it sit for a few minutes to let the chocolate melt.
Using a heatproof spatula, stir the cream and chocolate together until smooth. Stir in the butter and any flavorings you like. Work gently until everything is thoroughly combined and smooth. Do not use a whisk because you do not want to add any air to the mixture. Taste and add more flavoring if needed. You can also divide the chocolate/butter mixture and flavor each portion with a different flavoring. If you do this, make sure you label the bowls so you know what you added to each!
Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate until chocolate is firm but still pliable, about 45 minutes. Using an ice cream scoop, melon baller or two regular teaspoons, scoop small portions onto prepared baking sheet. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until thoroughly chilled, about 30 minutes.
Meanwhile, place any toppings you will be using into separate bowls or pie pans. Arrange next to your work surface.
Working quickly, roll chocolate portions into balls, using the palms of your hands. If you like, to make clean up easier, you can wear latex gloves. Make sure they are powder-free! Cover and return to the refrigerator to chill again until firm. The recipe can be made to this point up to 2 days ahead.
You can roll the truffles in any of the optional ingredients if you like or leave them plain. If you have used different flavorings, I suggest you roll them in different toppings so you can tell them apart. Set them onto a clean piece of parchment and chill until firm, at least 1 hour.
If you prefer, you can also melt additional chocolate and dip the truffles. If you do this, you will want to keep your chocolate at an even temperature. If you don’t have one of the fancy tempering machines, you can keep the bowl of melted chocolate warm by placing a heating pad into a large bowl and nestle the bowl of chocolate on top of it. Set the heating pad to medium. You want to keep the chocolate at 90°F to 92°F for the optimum setting. If it goes above 94°F it won’t have the wonderful snap when you bite into it.
You can use your fingers, a couple of forks or specialized dipping tools to dip the chocolates. Place the truffles in the melted chocolate, roll around to coat thoroughly, pick up, tap lightly to shake off some of the chocolate, and drag the bottom across the edge of the bowl to remove excess. Set on a wire rack or parchment to harden.
Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator up to 2 weeks or freeze up to 3 months. Bring to room temperature before serving. Children love to help make these and are very proud to present their creations for dessert after dinner!
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