Irresistible truffles are the perfect way to any chocolate lovers heart. Truffles that melt on your tongue and leave lingering tastes of raspberry liquor, or the sweet heat of ancho chili will win you possible lifetime-devotion. Who can resist the velveteen grace of a perfect cocoa bite? Certainly not I.
Thus truffles are top of the list for homemade holiday gifts. Aside from the plain version, which stands head and shoulders above most other chocolate treats, Chambord/Raspberry Liquor, ancho chili, and almond versions are also in the works. I've yet to get my hands on some lavender but it's on the list as well. For more adventurous eaters (like moi), balsamic, curry, and coconut-lime are certainly something to consider as well. Or make your own creation!
Though a bit messy, truffles are a snap to make. They also store well - perfect for working ahead. Now I realize there are a million variations recipe-wise, and my method may not be the one you prefer, but I like ease and simplicity so, for me, this recipe is perfect.
Yields about 100-150 truffles (depending on the size you prefer) I use:
2 pounds excellent quality bittersweet or semisweet chocolate
2 cups of cream
1 vanilla bean
2 cups cocoa powder - I prefer a very high quality extra brute variety
Shave chocolate or finely chop.
Begin melting chocolate in a double boiler (or a metal/ceramic bowl set over boiling water (not touching).
Scrape vanilla bean. Bring bean, seeds, and cream to a boil in another saucepan.
Once the cream is good and hot remove the vanilla bean and add to the chocolate. Mix until incorporated. This can look a little strange at the beginning but just keep stirring, it will eventually blend into a beautifully silken chocolate.
Pour chocolate mixture into a 9 x 13 dish and put in the fridge for at least 20 minutes, until stiffened. You can leave it overnight if need-be, just warm a bit at room temperature before you begin working with the chocolate.
To form truffles you can scrape the chocolate out with a melon baller, or, my preferred method is to cut directly into the chocolate ganache - cutting rows about a half an inch apart the length and width of the pan/dish. Each of these squares of chocolate I warm in my hands to form a ball and then promptly roll in a dish of cocoa powder to coat. I prefer this method because it yields more consistently sized truffles.
Some methods will have you melt more chocolate the coat the truffle in, then roll in cocoa powder but I prefer to simply use the heat of my hand to melt the truffle a little before tossing in the cocoa - also find this results in a perfect layer of cocoa, not too much, not too little.
To add flavor, such as a liquor or chili - add to the chocolate mix before chilling. For the liquor a small bottle (like airline sized) yields a subtle flavor, two bottles for a stronger flavor, or between 2 and 4 ounces. For chili this depends on your preferred level of heat. Two teaspoons is more than fine to me, and if you like you can add some chili to the cocoa when coating as well. For nuts chop these finely and roll the truffles in them to coat instead of cocoa. The possibilities are pretty much endless...as will be the appreciation from your friends and family when they open a box of homemade truffles at the holidays.
Truffles keep well in the fridge for a week or so and freeze beautifully. I recommend, when thawing, to move the storage container directly to the fridge to thaw first, then to room temperature before eating (helps avoid any condensation issues that might arise - which might result in needing another toss in some cocoa).
What sweet treats do you have on your holiday to-do list?
Happy homemade holiday confectionery making!