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Making Chocolate Truffles
Truffles are one of my favorite ways to indulge in chocolate. If you don't have time to run to your favorite gourmet sweet shop, you can make your own specialized truffles at home.
A basic truffle recipe consists of cooled balls of ganache and tempered chocolate. Ganache is a mixture of melted chocolate and cream that creates a smooth and rich filling. The hard outer coating is made from tempered chocolate. Tempered chocolate* is nothing more than chocolate that has been melted to a specific temperature (temp. varies depending on type of chocolate), cooled slightly and then melted again. This process ensures that the chocolate is stabilized and won’t separate. Perfectly tempered chocolate is shiny and has a crisp snap when broken.
Once you are comfortable with a basic truffle recipe you can allow your imagination to stretch in endless directions. Adding liqeuer to your ganache is the simplest way to start adding flavor. You can also add nuts and other topping into the ganache mix.
Other variations can be accomplished by adding extras to the tempered chocolate shell. Rolling the truffles in cocoa powder, chopped nuts, powdered sugar or coconut is a great way to "dress-up" your truffles. The possibilities are endless so have fun and try new things.
Here is a recipe for some great chocolate truffles.
Luscious Chocolate Truffles
2 cups (12 ounces) semisweet chocolate chips (you may want to spring for the higher-end chips)
2 Tbsp butter
¼ cup heavy cream
2 tbsp liqueur (almond, cherry, coffee, hazelnut, Irish cream, orange, raspberry, etc.), if desired
1 Tbsp shortening
Finely chopped nuts
1. Line a cookie sheet with aluminum foil.
2. Melt 1 cup of the chocolate chips in heavy 2-quart saucepan over very low heat, stirring constantly; remove from heat. Stir in butter then add the whipping cream and liqueur. Refrigerate 10 to 15 minutes, stirring frequently, just until thick enough to hold a shape.
3. Drop mixture by teaspoonfuls onto cookie sheet. Shape into balls. (If mixture is too sticky, refrigerate until firm enough to shape.) Freeze 30 minutes.
4. Heat shortening and remaining 1 cup chocolate chips over low heat, stirring constantly, until chocolate is melted and mixture is smooth; remove from heat. Dip truffles, one at a time, into chocolate. Return to aluminum foil-covered cookie sheet. Immediately sprinkle some of the truffles with finely chopped nuts or other toppings. Refrigerate about 10 minutes or until coating is set.
5. Mix 1/4 cup powdered sugar and 1/2 teaspoon milk; drizzle over truffles. Refrigerate until just set. Serve at room temperature in an airtight container.
*Tempering chocolate can be a tricky process and requires constant attention. Don’t feel bad if you don’t get it right the first time… you’re not alone!