Friday, November 26, 2010

Holiday Bittersweet Chocolate Truffles

For many years I had a tradition of making chocolate truffles for my family and friends each Christmas. I’d painstakingly form each ganache round by hand, then roll the truffles in a variety of coatings such as roasted nuts, toasted coconut, ground praline or 

cocoa powder. Somewhere along the way I stopped this ritual, probably because the holidays became too hectic and something had to give. I still continued making Christmas cookies, but dropped the truffles off the program. This year, inspired by the 

recent NY Chocolate Show, I revived my holiday truffle-making tradition and kicked off the season with a batch of creamy fresh truffles. They are surprisingly simple to make—the ganache comes together in 15 minutes, and just requires a few hours of chilling to 

firm up. Just make sure to use a top quality dark chocolate, not a low-grade supermarket brand. Making the truffle coatings presents an opportunity to get creative (green tea truffles, anyone?). You can also vary the liqueur in the ganache—Grand Marnier, Kahlua, 

Frangelico, Canton, and Amaretto all work beautifully as flavoring. As for packing, I recommend using cello-bags tied with a ribbon. Packing them like this will keep the truffles fresh, and the bags can then be tucked into Chinese take-out containers or small gift boxes. No matter how you choose to present them, nothing says “I love you” like a gift of homemade chocolate truffles. (Except perhaps a winning lottery ticket.)

Bittersweet Chocolate Truffles

Makes about 38 truffles

9 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped
1 cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons light corn syrup
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened (it’s important that the butter be soft!)
1 to 2 tablespoons Cognac or dark rum

Dutch-processed cocoa powder
Shelled pistachio nuts
Slivered almonds
Flaked coconut
Grated dark or white chocolate

Make the ganache:
1. Place the chocolate in a medium bowl and set aside.
2. In a medium saucepan, combine the cream and corn syrup and bring to a gentle boil over medium heat. Pour the hot cream over the chocolate and let stand undisturbed for 1 minute to melt the chocolate. Using a spatula or whisk, gently stir the mixture until smooth.
3. Whisk in the soft butter one piece at a time until smooth. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate the ganache until set, about 4 hours.

Prepare the coatings:
4. You may want to coat all your truffles with the classic cocoa powder, or you can coat them with a variety of things, such as nuts, coconut or chocolate. Nuts should be roasted first, to bring out their flavor (5-8 minutes at 350°F) and then finely chopped. Coconut should also be toasted (5 minutes at 325°F or in a skillet over medium heat, stirring frequently). If you want to coat them with grated chocolate, put the chocolate in the freezer for 10 minutes before grating.
5. Place each coating on a plate or in a pie pan.
6. Using a melon baller or small scoop, scoop out even portions of ganache and place them on a plate. Wash your hands, then roll each portion into a ¾- to 1-inch round. Wash your hands again, then immediately roll each truffle in one of the coatings and set aside on a plate or tray. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour before serving. Store in the refrigerator in an airtight container for up to a week.