01 June 2014

Easy Chocolate Truffles

Yesterday, we learned how to make truffles.

Don't get me wrong - Chef Spouse already knows how to make truffles.

He makes amazingly delicious truffles from a super-secret recipe that was given to him in STRICT confidence and with several conditions on the serving thereof for purposes of, and I quote: "sexual blackmail."

They rock.

They're also a bitch to make - time consuming, many ingredients, and quite finicky about precise temperatures and handling.

We were dining with our friend Chef Terry recently. He brought truffles for dessert, and he and Chef Spouse got chatting about making them. Turns out, Chef Terry knows an easier way. So we gathered yesterday for him to show us.

Chef Terry's truffles use precisely three ingredients:

220 g. of heavy cream
283 g. of 60% cacao Ghiradelli chocolate chips (plus more to enrobe your truffles)
About 1 Tbsp. of your flavoring agent (which in our case was amaretto)

Heat the heavy cream on the stove in a heavy bottomed sauce pan until it just starts to bubble, like so:

Remove it from the heat, pour your 283 g. of chocolate chips into a glass bowl, then pour over just enough of the warm cream to cover, thusly:

Let it sit for about 30 seconds to start the melting process, then whisk gently in one direction only and drizzle in the rest of the cream SLOWLY. All this "gently" and "slowly" business is to keep you from splattering melted chocolate and cream all over yourself and your kitchen. Unless, you know, that's your thing.

Then add your flavoring agent and whisk in. It should look like this when you're done:

"Hey!" you might say. "That looks just like ganache!" That's because it is. And at this point, if you happen to have a cake standing by and have changed you mind about making truffles, you can pour your ganache over your cake and be on your merry way.

Let's assume, though, that you want to continue your truffle adventure (or you have no un-iced cake handy). The next step is to cover your ganache tightly with plastic wrap and let it rest. Get the plastic wrap right down on the chocolate - you're trying to create an air-tight seal. Now comes the hard part: let the ganache rest at room temperature for at least 6 hours, preferably more like 24. The longer you wait, the easier the mixture will be to handle.

To form your truffles, you have two options: if you let the ganache rest more like 6 hours, you'll pipe them. If you let the ganache rest more like 24 hours, you'll scoop them.

Either way, you then want to let them set up for a few hours before enrobing them. You can shorten that by popping them in the fridge, but even then, they need at least an hour.

To enrobe, pour more of your 60% cacao chips into a glass bowl and microwave them for about 30 seconds. Stir gently, then hit them again for another 20 seconds or so. Stir gently, and test the temperature with an actual candy thermometer. You're aiming for about 101 degrees. You're tempering your chocolate (which Serious Eats explains really well, if you're curious). Short version: it's all about crystals. Once the chocolate is at the right temperature to do the right things to the crystalline structure of the cocoa butter in the chocolate, you'll be able to cover your truffles with a coating that will turn shiny and make them relatively shelf-stable.

The way you do it is pretty simple, but also kind of messy. You need chocolate on your hands, and then you drop the truffle center into the bowl, and gently toss it between your chocolate-covered hands to fully coat it. Wear gloves.

Then simply deposit them on your parchment-paper lined cookie sheet until the chocolate sets up and enjoy!

Oh - and all that "extra" chocolate that you drip onto the parchment paper in the process of doing this? Basis for your next batch of truffle centers.

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