With Valentine’s Day looming on the horizon, what better subject to feature today than the most decadent of chocolate temptations—the truffle!
I’ll be honest, save for some trace antioxidants, there’s nothing nutritionally redeeming about these little balls of sin; they’re just indulgent and delicious. I toyed with the idea of creating “light” truffles, but it felt like blasphemy. I don’t know what kind of evil alchemy yields fat-free half and half…it’s like having a “pet” snake—it’s just not normal.
So, throw your diet out the window for a day and embark upon this sinful chocolate-drenched journey with me. These beauties are messy but easy, and they always make a big impression.
Basic Chocolate Truffle Base:
1 ¼ cups semi-sweet chocolate chips (Ghiardelli)
1 ¼ cups bittersweet chocolate chips (60% cacao)
1 cup of cream
*[Plus 3 TBSP and 1 tsp of liquid flavorings, more on that below]*
Special equipment: A melon-baller
We’re going to 1.) Melt the chocolate (easy) ; 2.) Add the flavorings (easier); 3.) Cool the chocolate (easiest) ; and 4.) Shape and coat the truffles (messiest). Here we go!
I can’t be bothered by a double-boiler, so here’s how I melt my chocolate. First, put all the chocolate in a large microwavable bowl…I prefer glass or ceramic but it probably doesn’t matter. Next add your cream.
Then, microwave for 30 seconds. I know this sounds crazy, but it works. Give your mixture a stir. It’s going to freak you out a little, because it looks like this:
Be patient. Stir a few more times, then banish it back to the microwave for 30 more seconds. It will still look weird, but closer to normal:
Stir it some more, then back in for one more dose of microwave radiation for 30 seconds. A vigorous stir should yield a velvety smooth bowl of chocolate heaven.
Now it’s time to add your flavorings. If you’re just making one flavor, add it to the big bowl and be done. But we all know I don’t take the simple route. So I divided the chocolate into three bowls.
Next, I added flavorings to the individual bowls of chocolate. Flavor is totally up to you. For a good standard chocolate-y truffle, add a TBSP of coffee, a TBSP of coffee liquor, and a teaspoon or two of vanilla. That alone makes a damn good truffle. Otherwise, feel free to play with flavors. Just be mindful not to exceed this basic liquid-to-chocolate ratio or your truffles will have the figure of Jabba the Hutt. Here are the concoctions I made:
Add 1 TBSP coffee + 2 tsp cream de cacao
Coat with ½ cup toasted coconut
These were my favorite…I would make them over and over again.
Add 1 TBSP orange liquor + 2 tsp vanilla + 1 tsp orange zest
Coat with mixture of ½ cup chopped walnuts, 1 TBSP brown sugar, ¼ tsp cinnamon
And interesting combination…a nice contrast.
Add 2 tsp balsamic vinegar (I know, we’ll get to that in a minute)
Coat with dark cocoa powder
Blech! I saw Giada do this on the Food Network and thought, “why not?” Then I tasted them. WOGC—Waste of Good Chocolate!
Really, those balsamic truffles weren’t totally disgusting…just a little too odd for me. This, coming from the guy who actually poured Hershey’s chocolate syrup on a chicken tender the other day (this is not a lie and yes, I loved it). The “tang” was too sharp…perhaps the recipe just needs to be played with. Anyhoo…back to the process!
After your chocolate has been flavored, toss it in the fridge to set for about an hour and a half. You don’t want it too firm. Now you’re ready for the messy part…scooping and coating!
Set Up Your Station
There’s really no way to totally avoid the mess of this situation. The best you can do is prep your area in advance, so you don’t end up leaving your kitchen looking like you murdered a chocolate Easter Bunny. Just roll up your sleeves, embrace your inner child, and get ready to get chocolate-y. Here’s what you need:
Melon-Baller and Cup of HOT water
The melon-baller is the best way I’ve found to scoop out truffles. Keeping it in the hot water insures that it stays relatively clean so your truffles release from the scoop.
The reasoning here should be fairly obvious.
Bowls of Toppings
Have these ready to go.
Using the mellon-baller, dip into the chilled chocolate and scoop toward you. When you’ve accumulated a round-ish ball, clank the baller on the side of your topping bowl so that the truffle falls into it. [STOP: Immediately put your mellon-baller back in the cup of hot water.] Now, just roll the truffle around until it picks up the coating (you may want to sprinkle some over the top). Lightly roll between your palms, then you’re done. Rinse and repeat.
Here’s a tip: Everybody always says to coat truffles with cocoa powder. Well I’m here to tell you, it’s a BIG DAMN MESS. I’ve done it many times and just gets everywhere. Take a look:
Plus, it’s hard to get nice, round, symmetrical truffles. Now I know that truffles are named truffles because they are supposed to resemble the truffles that grow underground—brown, lumpy, etc. I get that, and think it’s nice backstory. But let’s be honest, most people don’t know that, and if you bring a plate full of lumpy brown chocolate frumples to a party, it’ll be your culinary expertise they suspect before applauding your knowledge of culinary history. So stick with coarse coatings, like nuts or coconut. They make it much easier to shape your truffles. And don’t use powdered sugar, the chocolate soaks through after awhile and they just look sad and damp.
Mischief Note: Sometimes, even if you remember the hot-water trick, your truffle will get stuck in the mellon-baller. Do not despair. Just dig it out, give it a quick palm-roll, and dunk it in the coating. This is where nuts and coconut come in handy…they help you get back to a nice round shape. Just have plenty of paper towels around, cause this gets messy.
That’s basically it. Chill the truffles on a cookie sheet for an hour or so, then you’re done. Congratulations—you’re a candy maker!
These puppies freeze well, and keep for awhile in the fridge, so they’re great for making in advance. Feel free to play with flavors…almond extract and amaretto would be nice…or peppermint flavor and creme de menthe, or hazelnut and frangelico…the possibilities are endless!
Have a wonderful, mischievous Valentine’s Day and find a way indulge yourself. A little sin is OK…in moderation! ;)