Truffles for everyone!

OK, so this next recipe isn't exactly in keeping with my dietary goals, but I made it for Valentine's Day so I get a free pass, right? It does, however, fall squarely into the Make It Myself category of things that are much cheaper to make than to buy.

Make what? Truffles, of course! I swear, it is so easy that the next time someone tries to sell you a $5.00 truffle you will toss back your head and laugh in their face. I know, it is dangerous having this knowledge at your fingertips, ready to go at the slightest hint of craving, but think of the money you'll save.

Truffles for Everyone
Adapted from a bunch of sources

1/2 pound (8 oz. by weight) of the best quality chocolate you can get your hands on*
1/2 cup (4 fl. oz) heavy cream
1/2 cup or so of cocoa powder, unsweetened*

Using a good-sized knife, carefully chop/break/shave the chocolate into small chunks and slivers, no bigger than a peanut. Place in medium sized non-plastic bowl (ceramic, glass, or stainless, please) and set aside.

Measure heavy cream into a slightly oversized microwave-safe container. (Slightly oversized in case of boil-overs.) Heat cream to boil in microwave.

Pour hot cream into bowl of chopped chocolate.

Cover bowl and let sit ten minutes.

After ten minutes, remove cover, and with a spoon, spatula, or small whisk, start in the center of the bowl and gently whisk the now melted chocolate and cream together in small circles until they start to combine, then gradually work outwards until all the cream and chocolate are completely transformed into smooth, silky, goodness.

Congrats! You have just made ganache.

Cover the bowl again and place in the fridge to cool until the ganache is the consistency of shortening or slightly softened butter -- solid enough for a glob to hold its shape. Depending on how deep your bowl is, it can take an hour or more to cool so be patient!

In the meantime, line a sheet pan with parchment paper or a silicone baking sheet or waxed paper or whatever. Try not to check the ganache too often. :)

Once the ganache is solid enough to scoop, use a regular teaspoon (the kind you eat with, not a measuring spoon) or a disher to scoop out modestly-sized globs (1 to 1.5 inch diameter) of ganache onto the lined sheet pan. They don't have to be round at this point, you're just portioning them.

Place the sheet pan in the fridge until the globs are completely set up. They need to be as solid as they're going to get before the next step.

While waiting, measure out a half cup or so of unsweetened cocoa powder (natural, dutch process, whatever) into a shallow bowl or paper plate. The ganache balls will be rolled in the cocoa powder to keep the truffles from sticking to our hands while we shovel them into our face.

When the ganache balls are solid, roll each one between your palms for a few seconds to round it up (it won't be perfect) then roll the ball around in the cocoa powder to coat it, tap off the excess, and return to the sheet pan.

When they're all done, return the pan to the fridge to let them firm up again after all that handling. After they set up again, transfer them to a covered container. You may want to keep them in the fridge because of the cream, but if you let them warm up to room temp before eating they will taste so much better.

And that's it!

* Now for the chocolate lecture: Use the best chocolate you can afford. Be sure it's the kind of chocolate that makes your eyes roll back in your head when you put it in your mouth. Otherwise the calories simply ain't worth it!

I am lucky enough to have access to Callebaut chocolate in the bulk bins at the fancy pants grocery store, and it's usually less than $8.00/lb. That's a LOT less than buying the Guittard bars in the baking aisle, and it tastes a lot better IMHO.

But if you love Hershey's, use Hershey's. Just note that milk chocolate will be fairly soft and squishy when set, so try cutting the cream back to 1/3 cup or substitute some semisweet chocolate for some of the milk chocolate.

The cocoa powder can be the natural Hershey's in the brown tin, a fancy dutch process, or whatever. Just don't use a cocoa mix -- Swiss Miss will not work!

Once you get the basics down, you can search the web for ways to fancy them up with flavorings and whatnot, but this basic recipe is my favorite.

Enjoy, but not too often, you hear?


Karen Frisa said...

I'm amazed at how many truffles you get from (what seems like it would be) such a small amount of ganache. As a chocolate lover who lives alone, I'd be tempted to put the ganache in a bowl in the fridge and eat it by the spoonful. Saves all that tedious portioning and rolling.

Liz Tee said...

I'm with you! I do the portioning thing to keep the guys out of my secret bowl. ;)