By Chef Lippe
I keep my chocolate in the refrigerator at this time of year for a nice cold treat when I come in from the garden. As I grew up this was a favorite treat made by the cooks for the winter holidays. I always got to help even if it was only licking the bowl when I was very young. So this would be a fun summer time project with the kids.
The word truffle comes from a French fungus. As strange as that may sound, the word truffle is now very much synonyms for luxury to your taste buds. A chocolate truffle is a ganache covered with tempered chocolate. A ganache is made of a mixture of cream and melted chocolate, and tempered means that the chocolate has been melted to a specific temperature, cooled to a specific temperature, and then once again melted. The ganache is then dipped into this melted chocolate. This method makes the truffle hard on the outside but soft and creamy on the inside.
10 ounces bittersweet chocolate, (chopped very, very fine)
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 tablespoon light corn syrup
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup liqueur of your choice (I like to use Kahlua, DisAronno, or Amaretto)
Suggested truffle coating Ingredients:
1/2 cup Dutch-Process Cocoa
Finely chopped nuts
8 ounces semi-sweet chocolate for dipping (Chocolate candy coating can be used instead).
In a microwave-safe bowl (glass bowl preferred because it retains heat and keeps the chocolate tempered for a longer time), place chocolate in the microwave for thirty seconds at a time on high power until the chocolate is melted. Be very careful not to overheat the chocolate. The chocolate may not look as if it has completely melted, because it retains its shape. The chocolate should be only slightly warmer than your bottom lip. You may still see lumps in it once you’ve stirred it, but don’t worry; the residual heat of the chocolate will melt it.
In a small saucepan over medium heat, heat the butter, corn syrup, and cream until it just begins to simmer; remove from heat. NOTE: Stir constantly while doing this to avoid scorching the mixture on the bottom of the pan. Pour the cream/corn syrup mixture over the tempered chocolate and let it stand for about 2 minutes. The heat from the mixture will finish the melting of the chocolate. You now have a chocolate ganache.
Stir the chocolate ganache mixture carefully, but thoroughly until it is smooth and creamy. Stir in the liqueur (of your choice) and make sure it is mixed throughout the chocolate. Spoon the mixture into an 8-inch by 8-inch glass baking dish and cover it with plastic wrap. Place in the refrigerator to cool until it is firm, approximately 1 to 2 hours.
When the chocolate ganache is cooled and firmed, scoop out small amounts with a spoon or melon baler, and place on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. Return this to the refrigerator to firm up again. You will see just how quickly the ganache begins to melt when it is removed from the refrigerator, especially if you are using your hands to form a more ball like structure with it.
While you are waiting for the ganache to get firm, get your Truffle Coating Ingredients ready:
Place the Dutch cocoa in a small bowl.
Finely chop the nuts in a food processor or similar (toasting the nuts before chopping can give them a deeper flavor). To toast pecans, almonds, or walnuts, place them in a dry skillet over medium heat and stir constantly to avoid burning until you can smell the aroma of the nut. Remove from the heat immediately and allow to cool before chopping.
Toast the coconut in a 350 degree F. oven for 10 minutes or until slightly brown. Remove from oven and allow the coconut to cool; then crush it in a plastic bag so that it is fine.
Chocolate candy coating can be melted in the microwave or on the stove with a double boiler. Follow the manufacturer’s recommendations for melting.
Finely chop 8 ounces of semi-sweet chocolate and place into a medium-size bowl. Although this can be done on the stove with a double boiler, the easiest way, and safest way of keeping the chocolate “temper”, is to use a heating source such as a hot plate on low to medium, or even a heating pad under the bowl. Stirring occasionally, heat the chocolate until it reaches 92 degrees F. on your cooking thermometer.
NOTE: Keep it at this temperature to maintain that crisp crunch when it is cooled around the truffle center. DO NOT heat your chocolate above 94 degrees F, the temperature at which you will lose the temper.
Remove the chocolate ganache from the refrigerator in small batches. Roll it in your palm to form a ball. Immediately place it in the coating of your choice and cover completely. Place the coated ball back on a lined cookie sheet and allow to set up in a cool dry place for at least 1 hour. To cover the balls with chocolate, use a small slotted spoon or a fork, and allow the chocolate to drip off after you have dipped it, then place on the cookie sheet with the others.
I like to make a variety of truffles, and it is just as easy as changing the coating, or even changing the liqueur you are using.
Here are the ones my kids helped with!