A chocolate truffle is a small round candy made primarily of chocolate, with the addition of some heavy cream, butter, and, often, liqueur. Classically, truffles are shaped by hand and dusted with cocoa powder, giving them a resemblance to the much-sought-after and very expensive fungus truffle, after which they are named. The fungus variety is nice, but these chocolates are to-die-for delicious: rich, smooth, melting, delicious. I have had people pronounce my homemade truffles the best thing they have ever eaten. They are amazing.
I prefer to make these with bittersweet chocolate, which yields a not-so-sweet but very chocolate-y treat. But you can use semi-sweet chocolate, milk chocolate, or even white chocolate if you prefer. Just one thing to remember: the primary ingredient is chocolate, so it pays to invest in the best quality you can find: Callebaut, Valhrona, something of that calibre.
I prefer to coat truffles with the traditional cocoa (get Dutch process cocoa powder, it's less bitter), but you can use icing sugar, chopped nuts, shredded coconut, or anything else that takes your fancy. Or place them on waxed paper and drizzle them with ganache or couverture, which will harden into a shiny coating.
Finally, please be aware that although, unlike many other types of candy, truffles are very easy to make (no finicky tempering of chocolate, no candy thermometer, no special molds), the rolling of truffles is very messy. Unless you have ice cold hands, your palms will be coated in chocolate, and unless you are fanatically neat, there will be cocoa powder all over your counter and chocolate on your floor. All this can be distressing, but your anxiety will melt away like the truffle in your mouth once you taste the fruits of your labour.
What you need to make about 4 dozen truffles
- 1 lb (225 gr) high quality bittersweet chocolate
- 1 cup (240 ml) heavy cream (35% butterfat)
- 1/4 cup (60 ml) unsalted butter
- (optional) 2 tblsp (30 ml) liqueur (I like Grand Marnier, but any fruit flavour liqueur or even Cognac)
- about 1/2 cup cocoa powder for rolling
What to do
Melt the chocolate gently in a double boiler (or a bowl set over a pot of simmering water). Meanwhile, heat the cream and butter in a pot until steaming, then let cool slightly.
Mix the cream and butter together, then pour over the chocolate and fold together until uniformly combined. Stir in liqueur if using.
Pour the mixture into a large rectangular pan and place in the refrigerator until fairly firm. What you are aiming to do is scoop out a small ball of chocolate, drop it into the cocoa, and roll it around till covered. To scoop, I use a melon baller that is heated under hot running water between every scoop; yclept uses a small ice cream scoop with an ejector. Place your chosen coating in a Tupperware container and drop in several balls, cover, and shake to coat generously. Remove the coated balls of goodness with chopsticks and place in another Tupperware container, placing wax paper between each layer.
There is probably an optimal moment at which the chocolate is the perfect consistency to form uniform round balls, but I have not found it. If it's too soft, it won't form a ball at all; if it's too hard, it'll form a lump that bears a passing resemblance to a round ball. You may feel tempted to spend more time rolling the misshapen object between your palms to make it more round, but don't bother: it just melts all over your hands without achieving perfect sphericality. So give up the perfectionism and revel in the fact that everyone will know you made these by hand. If you end up sharing....
Truffles will keep in the fridge for a month in a tightly sealed container, or in the freezer for six months. Let come to room temperature before eating for maximum impact.