8 ounces (227 grams) semisweet or bittersweet chocolate, cut into small pieces
1/2 cup (120 ml) heavy whipping cream(double cream) (35-40% butterfat)
2 tablespoons (28 grams) unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
2 tablespoons alcohol (Cognac, brandy, Grand Marnier, kirsch, rum, bourbon, or Kahlua to name a few) (optional)
Different Coatings for Truffles:
Dutch-Processed Cocoa Powder
Confectioners Sugar (Icing or Powdered)
Toasted and Chopped Nuts (pecans, walnuts, almonds, hazelnuts)
Chocolate Truffles: Place the chopped chocolate in a medium sized heatproof bowl. Set aside. Heat the cream and butter in a small saucepan over medium heat. Bring just to a boil. Immediately pour the boiling cream over the chocolate and allow to stand for a minute or two. Stir with a rubber spatula until smooth. (If the chocolate doesn't melt completely, place in the microwave for about 20 seconds, or over a saucepan of simmering water, just until melted.) If desired, add the liqueur. Cover and place in the refrigerator until the truffle mixture is firm (this will take several hours or overnight).
Place your coatings for the truffles on a plate. Remove the truffle mixture from the refrigerator. With your hands, a small ice cream scoop, a melon baller, or a small spoon form the chocolate into round or mis-shaped bite-sized balls. Immediately roll the truffle in the coating and place on a parchment lined baking sheet or tray. Cover and place in the refrigerator until firm. Truffles can be refrigerated for a couple of weeks or else frozen for a couple of months. Bring to room temperature before serving.
Makes 30 small truffles.
To Toast Nuts: Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (177 degrees C) and bake nuts (pecans, walnuts or almonds) about 8 - 10 minutes or until brown and fragrant. For hazelnuts toast about 15 minutes or until the skins start to blister. Remove from oven and roll in a clean dish towel. Let the nuts 'steam' for about 5 minutes and then remove the skins. Once the nuts have cooled, chop coarsely.
Chocolate Truffles are a rich and elegant, bite-sized petit four made with a creamy mixture of chocolate, cream, and butter to which various flavorings are added (liqueurs, extracts, nuts, coffee, purees, spices, candied or dried fruits). This mixture is really a Ganache that is rolled into mis-shaped rounds to look like the real truffle fungus that grows around the roots of trees in France and Italy. Once the truffles are formed they are then rolled in cocoa powder to simulate the 'dirt' that the real truffles grow in. While cocoa powder is the traditional coating, truffles can also be coated in confectioners (powdered or icing) sugar, toasted and chopped nuts, tempered chocolate, shredded coconut, or even shaved chocolate.
Now, the taste and quality of the truffle is primarily dependent on the quality of chocolate you start with. Remember not all chocolates are the same. Chocolate begins with the beans from the tropical tree Theobroma which translates to "Food of the Gods". There are three types of cacao beans (Forastero, Criollo, and Trinitario) and the type and/or blend of beans, their quality, and where they are grown all contribute to the quality and taste of the chocolate. Other factors affecting taste and quality are how the beans are roasted, how the beans are ground into a mass called chocolate liquor, how much extra cocoa butter is added to the chocolate liquor, quality and amount of other ingredients added, and how long the chocolate liquor is conched (processed). A chocolate with a velvety smooth texture will produce a truffle that is velvety smooth. However, the most important point to consider when choosing either a bittersweet or semi-sweet chocolate for making your truffles is whether you like the chocolate when eaten out of hand.
Once you have decided on your chocolate, you then need to decide on your choice of alcohol to flavor your truffles and also the coating. The choice is yours but there are a few things to consider. For example, if you want a hazelnut flavored truffle it is a good idea to add Frangelico to the chocolate and cream mixture and then coat them in chopped hazelnuts. Or if you would like your truffles to have a coffee flavor stir about one tablespoon of espresso powder into the hot cream and then add Kahua or Tia Maria to the truffle mixture. For fruit flavored truffles use 2 tablespoons of fruit puree or jam (raspberry or blackberry) in place of the alcohol. Orange flavored truffles can be made by adding about 1 tablespoon of orange zest to the hot cream. Let the cream steep for about 10 - 15 minutes and then strain out the zest. Then add Grand Marnier to the truffle mixture. As you can see there are endless variations to the basic truffle so experiment and come up with your own recipes. Truffles store very well. They can be refrigerated for a couple of weeks or frozen for several months. Truffles are best when served at room temperature.