Truffles are one of the easiest candies to make and probably one of the most expensive. A box of 28 plain chocolate truffles at La Maison du Chocolat will set you back $43 and at Godiva, $65 will buy you 36 truffles. Are you nuts? In this economy? If you are willing to spend a little time in the kitchen, wear disposable clothes and keep from scratching your nose while you roll these little babies in cocoa powder, then I can show you how to make them at home for a fraction of the cost.
Truffles are a simple ganache rolled in cocoa or whatever else you can think of, including nuts and powdered sugar. This morning I saw a presentation in the local channel from the Cordon Bleu in Atlanta and it reminded me of this easy recipe, particularly now that Valentine's Day is just around the corner.
Save your money for something else like a nice bottle of Veuve Cliquot . Good champagne is a must, no substitutes there. But DO use some good chocolate, preferably Valrhona. Now you can afford to.
Chocolate truffles are not just for Valentine's Day. I like to set them at each end of the table in small silver bowls and have my guests enjoy them with coffee or with an extra glass of champagne. For a casual ladies lunch, I like to serve them with espresso, instead of dessert. They keep in the refrigerator for at least a couple of weeks, if not more.
Just so you see there is no secret to great truffles, I have printed two recipes, my own and La Maison du Chocolat's. The main difference is Linxe rolls them a second time in the ganache to make them last longer. Mine fly out the window the minute they are set on the table so I've skipped that step and haven't noticed the difference, but it's up to you. just go make some!
For the ganache
8 ounces of semi-sweet or bittersweet chocolate (high quality, 62% cacao or higher), well chopped into small pieces
1/2 cup of heavy whipping cream
1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
Optional base flavorings:
Cinnamon and cardamon (1 cinnamon stick, 2 cardamom pods)
Amaretto (1-2 tablespoons)
Almond extract (1 teaspoon)
Grand Marnier (1-2 TB)
Orange extract (1 tsp)
Rum (1-2 TB)
Finely chopped walnuts
Finely chopped almonds
1 In a small, heavy saucepan bring the heavy whipping cream to a simmer (this may take a while, be sure to stir and scrape down the sides with a rubber spatula every few minutes).
If you are using one of the other recommended flavorings, stir it in with the cream (and ignore vanilla in the next step). If adding mint or other solids, after the cream simmers, remove from heat and let seep for an hour. Then strain away solids, and return the cream to a simmer and proceed with recipe.
2 Place the chocolate in a separate bowl. Pour the cream over the chocolate, add the vanilla, and allow to stand for a few minutes then stir until smooth. (This chocolate base is called ganache.)
3 Allow to cool, then place in the refrigerator for two hours. Remove and with a teaspoon roll out balls of the ganache. Roll in your hands quickly (as it will melt from the heat of your hands) and place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Place in the refrigerator overnight.
4 Roll in cocoa powder or chopped nuts and serve, or place back in the refrigerator until needed.
Makes 30-40 chocolate truffles.
Robert Linxe’s (La Maison du Chocolat) Chocolate Truffles
Gourmet, February 2001
Makes about 60 truffles (Linxe says not to double the recipe).
11 ounces Valrhona chocolate (56% cacao)
2/3 cup heavy cream
Valrhona cocoa powder for dusting
Finely chop 8 ounces of the chocolate and put in a bowl. Bring heavy cream to a boil in a small heavy saucepan. Make sure your pan is small, so you’ll lose the least amount of cream to evaporation, and heavy, which will keep the cream from scorching. Linxe boils his cream three times — he believes that makes the ganache last longer. If you do this, compensate for the extra evaporation by starting with a little more cream.
Pour the cream over the chocolate, mashing any big pieces with a wooden spoon.
Then stir with a whisk in concentric circles (don’t beat or you’ll incorporate air), starting in the center and working your way to the edge, until the ganache is smooth. Let stand at room temperature until thick enough to hold a shape, about 1 hour, then, using a pastry bag with a 3/8-inch opening or tip, pipe into mounds (about 3/4 inch high and 1 inch wide) on parchment-lined baking sheets. When piping, finish off each mound with a flick of the wrist to soften and angle the point tip. Freeze until firm, about 15 minutes.
Meanwhile, melt 3 more ounces of the same Valrhona and smear some on a gloved hand. Gently rub each chilled truffle to coat lightly with chocolate. (The secret to a delicate coating of chocolate is to roll each truffle in a smear of melted chocolate in your hand. Linxe always uses gloves.)
Toss the truffles in unsweetened Valrhona cocoa powder so they look like their namesakes, freshly dug from the earth. A fork is the best tool for tossing truffles in cacao. Shake truffles in a sieve to eliminate excess cacao.
Store truffles in the refrigerator.