Making European-style pastries used to intimidate me. They look so dainty and delicate and I’m always worried that I’m too heavy handed to execute them. Well, I’m slowly overcoming the fear. I started with the simplest project — panna cotta. As I became more comfortable with the language and techniques, a tarte Tatin, chocolate souffle, apple strudel and budino. Earlier today, I made chocolate truffles.
What is a truffle? First, let’s not confuse a chocolate truffle with the highly-prized fungus called the truffle. In the confectionary world, a truffle is a small piece of sweet made by chilling ganache or something akin to a fudge, depending on which part of the world you’re in (see the three main types of chocolate truffles), shaping the chilled mixture and rolling them in cocoa powder, nuts or anything that fancies your imagination. You can even dip them in melted chocolate.
The ones I made, based on a recipe from Saveur, fall under the Swiss truffle variety. There are only three ingredients — dark chocolate, cream and butter. Somewhere between soft and chewy, the dark chocolate truffles are decadently rich and crazy delicious. Seriously.
Dark Chocolate Truffles
- Heat the cream in a sauce pan until simmering (do not boil because the cream may curdle). Turn off the heat. Add the chocolate, salt and butter. Stir until smooth.
- Pour the mixture into a shallow bowl and chill until firm — four hours, in my case. “Firm” means the mixture can be shaped.
- When the chocolate mixture is firm enough, start preparing whatever you want to coat your truffles with.
- Sift the confectioner’s sugar into a bowl.
- Sift the cocoa powder into another bowl.
- Put the chopped nuts into a third bowl.
- Using a teaspoon, scrape the chilled chocolate mixture to form one-inch balls.
- Coat some of the chocolate balls with the chopped nuts.
- Roll some in confectioner's sugar
- Roll the rest in cocoa powder.
- If the still unshaped chocolate mixture starts to soften, chill for about 30 minutes then start scraping and shaping again.
- Keep the truffles in the fridge in a covered container.
- Now, if you want to give your friends a bunch of homemade dark chocolate truffles for Christmas, I suggest you use colorful paper cups.
- Arrange the truffles in a single layer in shallow containers. Keep them chilled (an ice chest is advisable) during transport.