All A’Twitter for Truffles!
Few treats are as sinfully rich as chocolate truffles, nor as warmly welcomed during the holidays. Truffles are, in my mind, the most elegant of candies, yet perhaps the easiest of all to make. They require very little cooking and practically no candymaking experience to quickly master, nor are they weather-fickle. And unlike most other candies, young children can safely join in the making of truffles once the ganache is chilled and ready to roll…just be prepared to perform some serious kitchen cleaning in the aftermath. 😉
The foundation for traditional truffles is in a deep, rich ganache. They are usually dipped in tempered chocolate, or rolled in finely chopped or ground nuts, cocoa powder, or sweetened, shredded coconut that has been “pulsed” a few times in your food processor to slightly grind into smaller shreds. Truffles do not have the shelf life of most other candies and must be eaten within two weeks, but I’ve never known of any to remain uneaten long enough to even begin to dry out.
With the holiday season so quickly approaching, my kitchen is gearing up to produce many, many pounds of these delights. All will be presented in beribboned, labeled boxes and offered in many gift baskets that will be given to family, clients and dear friends.
I offer here my basic recipe used literally hundreds of times, along with simple variations and stand-alone recipes to offer additional flavors, too. All are absolutely delicious and fairly fool-proof. The basic ganache recipe may be doubled, quadrupled, etc. to meet quantity needs, then divided for making different flavor variations. I make truffles in such quantities that I devote two entire days to the task…
Basic Chocolate Truffle Ganache
(Yields approximately 2 dozen truffles)
1 pound (16 ounces) semisweet chocolate, chopped fine
1 cup heavy cream
1 tablespoon butter, at room temp
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
½ cup unsweetened cocoa, ground nuts, coconut (for coating) or
Place the chopped chocolate in a medium non-plastic bowl and set aside.
Warm the cream in a small saucepan over low heat, stirring a few times to distribute the heat. As soon as you begin to see tiny bubbles form around the edge of the pan (scalding), remove from heat and pour the cream over the chopped chocolate. Using a whisk, slowly stir until the chocolate melts and is completely smooth. Add the butter and stir until it is completely incorporated. Stir in the vanilla and blend well.
Keeping the ganache in its mixing bowl, cover with plastic wrap and place into the refrigerator to chill for at least an hour, or until it is quite firm. (I usually chill for two to three hours.)
Scoop out a heaping teaspoonful of the ganache and roll it into a ball between your palms, and place onto a parchment paper-lined cookie sheet. Continue until all ganache has been formed into balls. It is very helpful to lightly dust your scrupulously clean, dry hands with cornstarch to prevent sticking during formation.
If you are making a large batch and the mixture gets too soft to hold its shape or becomes especially sticky, place the ganache back into the fridge for 10-15 minutes to reharden and resume rolling.
When all truffle balls have been formed, place the cookie sheet into your refrigerator to reharden for at least an hour before proceeding.
At this point, your truffle balls are ready to be rolled in cocoa powder, nuts or coconut, or dipped into tempered chocolate. While the balls rechill, prepare your coatings and/or temper your chocolate.
To coat with cocoa powder, place each ball into a small bowl containing the cocoa powder and roll around with a spoon until it is completely covered. Roll the ball again lightly in your hands to make sure the cocoa sticks, then reroll in more cocoa powder. Repeat with the remaining truffle balls, placing them on parchment paper-lined cookie sheets to set.
Another outstanding coating for these chocolate truffles is to roll the balls into finely ground pecans.
Store the truffles in layers in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 2 weeks, but always allow the truffles to come to room temperature before serving.
Chocolate-Covered Truffles (The ultimate in decadence) Dip into tempered bittersweet chocolate instead of rolling them in cocoa. Once the chocolate shell has hardened (after resting 4-6 hours), these truffles may be stored without refrigeration (on waxed paper in an airtight container) for two weeks and make lovely gifts during the holidays.
Chocolate-Coconut Truffles. Add ½ cup of sweetened, shredded coconut to the ganache with the butter and stir to distribute well. Form into balls and roll in more coconut (that has been “pulsed” a few times in your food processor to reduce the size of the shreds). “Kick this up a notch” by then dipping the rolled coconut-covered balls into tempered milk chocolate. (Rest at room temperature 4-6 hours until completely hardened.)
Almond Truffles – Add 3 tablespoons of Amaretto with the butter to the ganache and roll in about a half of a cup of ground almonds using the same method as in rolling in cocoa powder described above. Alternatively, you can push a whole toasted almond into the center of the ball, reshape, then dip into tempered chocolate. (That one’s a big favorite around here!) And when the chocolate shell is hardened (after resting 4-6 hours), these truffles may be stored without refrigeration…again lovely holiday gifts!
Wine Truffles – Add 3 tablespoons of some good cabernet with the butter to the ganache, as above, then roll in cocoa.
Bourbon Truffles – Add 3 tablespoons of good Kentucky Bourbon (I like to use Knob Creek) with the butter to the ganache and dip into tempered bittersweet chocolate. For added flair (and help in identifying later), I drizzle melted white chocolate over these truffles once their chocolate shell has hardened. Absolutely delicious! No refrigeration required for storage.
Champagne Truffles – Add 3 tablespoons of champagne with the butter to the ganache, then roll in cocoa powder.
Orange Truffles – Add 3 tablespoons of Grand Marnier and 1 teaspoon of orange zest to the ganache with the butter. I prefer these dipped in tempered bittersweet chocolate and they are especially beautiful when also drizzled with orange-tinted melted white chocolate once the chocolate shell has hardened.
Honey Truffles – Dissolve 2 tablespoons of honey into the warming cream before adding to the finely chopped chocolate, then roll in cocoa powder to finish. Wow, are these ever delicious and so very creamy!
Raspberry Truffles – Add about 3 tablespoons of Chambord with the butter in the ganache. This one is on the top 5 list of Truffles for me! Also better dipped into tempered bittersweet chocolate. I “kick these up a notch” by drizzling red-tinted melted white chocolate over the chocolate-dipped truffles after the shell has hardened.
Mint Truffles – Add 5 drops of peppermint oil to the ganache in place of the vanilla, then dip into tempered bittersweet chocolate.
White Chocolate Truffles
(Yields about 50 truffles that literally melt in your mouth!)
2/3 cup heavy cream
1 ½ pounds of white chocolate, chopped fine
1 tablespoon vanilla (or 1 teaspoon orange or rum extract)
Tempered bittersweet chocolate for dipping
Place the finely chopped white chocolate into a medium (non-plastic) bowl and set aside.
In a small saucepan, heat the cream over low heat, stirring occasionally, until tiny bubbles appear around the edge. Pour the hot cream over the chopped white chocolate and stir with a whisk until the white chocolate is completely melted and smooth. Add the vanilla (or orange or rum extract) and blend in well.
Place the bowl into the refrigerator to chill for two hours. Roll heaping teaspoons of the white ganache between the palms of your hands and form into balls. Place the formed balls onto a parchment paper-lined cookie sheet and chill for an hour to reharden. Then dip into tempered bittersweet chocolate. When the shells have hardened, drizzle melted white chocolate over the tops of each truffle (I use a cross-hatch pattern to differentiate among other truffles) and allow to harden before storing on sheets of waxed paper in an airtight container.
Peanut Butter Truffles (my version of “Reese’s Cups”)
(Yields approximately 50 truffles)
1 cup heavy cream
1 ½ pounds of milk chocolate, chopped fine
1/3 cup creamy peanut butter
Tempered semisweet chocolate for dipping
Place the chopped milk chocolate into a medium (non-plastic) bowl and set aside.
In a medium saucepan, heat the cream over low heat, stirring occasionally, until tiny bubbles appear around the edge of the cream. Remove from heat and add the peanut butter, whisking gently until the peanut butter is fully incorporated and blended smooth. Pour the hot cream mixture over the chopped milk chocolate and stir with a whisk until the chocolate is completely melted and smooth.
Place the bowl into the refrigerator and chill for two hours until firm. Roll heaping teaspoons of the chocolate-peanut butter ganache between the palms of your hands and form into balls. Place the formed balls onto a parchment paper-lined cookie sheet and chill for an hour to reharden. Then dip into tempered semisweet chocolate. IMPORTANT NOTE: If giving as gifts, PLEASE be extra careful to label these truffles as containing peanuts for any who may be allergic to same. Also, do not allow any cross-contamination of this mixture into any other truffle recipes by sharing utensils, etc. to prevent those allergic to peanuts from being exposed. A LOT of youngsters (and some adults) these days are highly allergic to peanuts and related products!!!!
Last, but not least by any means, is a recipe provided to me by Chef Dean Fearing (formerly of the Mansion on Turtle Creek in Dallas). I’ve made these many, many times and they are truly the cat’s meoooowwww!!!
Chocolate Espresso Truffles
(Yields approximately 2 dozen truffles)
1 cup unsalted butter
¾ cup sugar
¾ cup strong espresso coffee
8 ounces semisweet chocolate
3 whole eggs
3 egg yolks
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Adjust rack to center of oven.
Melt butter, sugar, coffee, and chocolate in top half of double boiler set in simmering water. Pour the mixture into your mixing bowl. Add the egg yolks and whole eggs and beat slowly until well blended. Pour into an eight-inch nonstick cake pan. Place the pan into a bain marie (a larger baking dish that holds the cake pan easily and with boiling water poured into the larger pan to a depth of no greater than half the height of the cake pan) and bake for 60 minutes.
Remove the cake pan from its bain marie and place into the refrigerator to cool. When completely cooled (about 2 hours), scoop up heaping teaspoons of the mixture and roll in the palms of your hands into balls. Place the formed balls onto a parchment paper-lined cookie sheet and chill again until firm (about an hour). Dip each truffle into the tempered chocolate of your choice (I prefer bittersweet) or roll each truffle in cocoa.