Dark chocolate truffles, without a temper

December 9th, 2010  |  27 Comments

Long before I had any pastry under my belt (literally and figuratively), I was invited to a Christmas dinner. I brought along my offering, and announced that they were truffles! Truffles, oh great people of the party! Truffles! And yes, I had made them myself! The hostess perked up, understandably so, because how often do you receive a box of homemade truffles?

After we threw our napkins on the plates signaling dinner was over, she brought out the package, and slipped off the ribbon with the kind of delicacy reserved only for Tiffany’s boxes. All the while I heard oohing and aahing about what was to come. She pulled out a cocoa coated morsel, and slowly brought it to her lips, obviously savoring the moment. She bit in. There I was, watching her, fully expecting to see pure joy, but she grimaced for a nearly imperceptible second before regaining her composure. She forced a smile but something small extinguished in her. The box was returned to the coffee table, and that was that.

These were coconut truffles, you see, a small detail I probably should have mentioned to her from the get go. I rolled a coconut mix into balls and coated them in cocoa powder. They certainly looked like truffles, so I said truffles, not realizing that I was setting up a certain expectation. Apparently, these were mere impostors and the hostess was not a fan. Lucky for me it was Christmas, or I might have found myself hitching a ride back home.

So technically they were truffles because of their dark, imperfectly round appearance, named after the other fungus-y truffles that pigs sniff out of the ground. But what I learned that day is if you say truffles, people expect CHOCOLATE! Deep, rich, palate-coating, melt-in-your-mouth chocolate! Nothing else will do. The coconut would have been better received if they were part of a mix, but there HAS to be chocolate somewhere. Otherwise, you may as well stay home.

The first time I dined in a fancy restaurant, at the end of the meal, the waiter set a variety of tiny, jewel-like confections before me — little passion fruit jellies lightly coated with sugar granules, chocolate bon-bons garnished with a dusting of gold, teeny chocolate pralines, thumbnail-sized tea cakes with a swirl of buttercream and miniscule tartlettes topped with the smallest fruit nature could produce. They enchanted the hell out of me and as much as I wanted to sample every one, I reluctantly told the waiter that I didn’t order these.

Oh, tres embarrassment! They were included in the meal, and, I learned, were as common to the fine dining scene as grilled cheeses was to a diner.

No matter how stuffed with 12 courses people were, I could see their faces light up when the tiny silver tray of mini delights was presented to them. They’d re-adjust themselves in their chair and make room for just another bite or two. It’s no wonder then, that every petit four plate that ever came out of my restaurant kitchens had some sort of chocolates on them, whether they were truffles, molded or dipped variations.

Though at the restaurant we would coat these with tempered chocolate (for a little snap in the outer shell), these truffles still have all the elegance, and none of the difficulty, since I left out the tempering here. The filling is a classic dark chocolate, coated in chopped almonds, or Dutch processed cocoa powder. So feel free to serve these at the end of your holiday party or give them as gifts because no one, but no one, will be disappointed with that.

Dark Chocolate Truffles

makes about 50

Although these should be stored in the fridge, they are in a whole other class when brought closer to room temperature. It’s best to pull them out of the fridge about 30 minutes before serving.

1 cup (237 ml) heavy cream
2 tsp (25 g) granulated sugar (light corn syrup is even better because the truffles keep better. Use it if you have it.)
12 oz (336 g) dark chocolate, I used Callebaut
1 T (14 g) butter

cocoa powder, for coating
finely chopped almonds, for rolling (or any other nut)

1. No coconut here! Just pure, deeeelicious chocolate.

 

2. Chop that block o’ chocolate fine! I like to shave it into small pieces with a serrated knife. If your pieces are too big, they may not melt. Once chopped, put the chocolate in a dry bowl.

 

3. Pour the cream, sugar and butter into a pot and bring to a boil over high heat. As I keep harping, don’t get distracted staring out the window at the neighbors. This small amount heats up pretty fast. Man, do I hate cleaning that up if it boils over.

 

Once boiled, remove from the heat and pour it all at once over the chocolate. If some pieces of chocolate aren’t submerged, push them under with a spoon.

 

Let this sit on the counter for a minute. Take this opportunity to hum Christmas carols. The heat from the cream will penetrate the chocolate and melt it.

Now start whisking. To get the best texture, it’s important to create a good emulsion. The better the emulsion, the smoother the texture of the truffle will be. (This is true for any recipe where you whisk cream into chocolate.)

Start from the center and whisk fast in small, concentric circles. You can see how the center is getting shiny, and that’s a telltale sign that things are going well.

 

Keep whisking, making the circles wider, as more cream gets pulled in and incorporated.

 

In a minute, you will have a bowl of shiny “ganache.”

 

I like to scrape it into another clean bowl, and refrigerate it for a couple of hours, just so the ganache has a chance to harden. Go watch “It’s a Wonderful Life.”

(You can also make it the day before. The ganache will firm up considerably and be difficult to scoop into balls. Let the bowl rest at room temperature for 45 minutes first, and then the scooping will go smoothly.)

When you come back to it a couple of hours later, the surface will have dulled over and that’s ok. The texture should be firm but scoopable. As you can see, I use a Melon Baller.

 

The way I’ve been taught to go about making quick work of this is to swoosh the melon baller in a cup of hot water first. This warms up the metal. Shake off the excess water but don’t bother drying it off.

 

Then dig the mellon baller into the chocolate and twist, all in one motion. No hesitation. (Forgive the time lapse on this photo. How can I be on my first scoop here when the above photo has 4 scoops missing!? Oh, the madness!)

 

Then give the melon baller a good wack or two against the side of a parchment covered sheet pan and the chocolate should pop right out. You can get your bearings with a few practice balls. If they’re stubborn, give them a little nudge with a spoon. If some of them look all crazy, you can always roll them between the palms of your hands. But I like them imperfect.

Repeat the procedure for each and every ball. Swirl melon baller in hot water, scoop, and wack them out.

 

Soon enough the surface looks raped and pillaged and you may wonder how you will get another nice ball (heh) out of it.

 

Take a piece of plastic and press the whole surface down until it’s an even plane, and carry on with the swoosh, scoop, wack method. Keep going until there’s no more ganache.

 

Prepare two bowls, one filled with cocoa powder and one with finely chopped nuts for rolling. I used almonds.

 

Roll some of the balls in cocoa powder,

 

and some of the balls in nuts (sounds delightfully lewd.)

 

Spread some holiday joy.

Dark Chocolate Truffles

makes about 50

Although these should be stored in the fridge, they are in a whole other class when brought closer to room temperature. It’s best to pull them out of the fridge about 30 minutes before serving.

1 cup (237 ml) heavy cream
2 tsp (25 g) granulated sugar (light corn syrup is even better because the truffles keep better. Use it if you have it.)
12 oz (336 g) dark chocolate, I used Callebaut
1 T (14 g) butter

cocoa powder, for coating
finely chopped almonds, for rolling (or any other nut)

1. Chop that block o’ chocolate fine! I like to shave it into small pieces with a serrated knife. If your pieces are too big, they may not melt. Once chopped, put it the chocolate in a dry bowl.

2. Pour the cream, sugar and butter into a pot and bring to a boil over high heat. As I keep harping, don’t get distracted staring out the window at the neighbors. This small amount heats up pretty fast. Man, do I hate cleaning that up if it boils over.

3. Once boiled, remove pot from the heat and pour contents all at once over the chocolate. If some chocolate pieces aren’t submerged, push them under with a spoon.

4. Let it sit on the counter for a minute. The heat from the cream will penetrate the chocolate and melt it.

5. Now start whisking. To get the best texture, it’s important to create a good emulsion. The better the emulsion, the smoother the texture of the truffle will be. (This is true for any recipe where you whisk cream into chocolate.)

Start from the center and whisk fast in small, concentric circles. If the center starts getting shiny, it’s a good sign that the emulsion id going well. Keep whisking, making the circles wider, as more cream gets pulled in and incorporated. In a minute, you will have a bowl of shiny “ganache.”

6. I like to scrape it into another clean bowl, and refrigerate it for a couple of hours, just so the ganache has a chance to harden.

(You can also make it the day before. The ganache will firm up considerably and be difficult to scoop into balls. Let the bowl rest at room temperature for 45 minutes, and then the scooping will go smoothly.

7. When you come back to it a couple of hours later, the surface will have dulled over and that’s ok. The texture should be firm but scoopable. As you can see, I use a Melon Baller.

8. The way I’ve been taught to go about making quick work of this is to swoosh the melon baller in a cup of hot water first. This warms up the metal. Shake off the excess water but don’t bother drying it off. Then dig the mellon baller into the chocolate and twist, all in one motion. No hesitation.

9. Give the melon baller a good wack or two against the side of a parchment covered sheet pan and the chocolate should pop right out. You can get your bearings with a few practice balls. If they’re stubborn, give them a little nudge with a spoon. If some of them look all crazy, you can always roll them between the palms of your hands. But I like them imperfect.

Repeat the procedure for each and every ball. Swirl melon baller in hot water, scoop, and wack them out.

10. Soon enough the surface looks raped and pillaged and you may wonder how you will get another nice ball out of the ganache. Take a piece of plastic wrap and press the whole surface down until it’s an even plane, and carry on with the swoosh, scoop, wack method. Keep going until there’s no more ganache.

11. Prepare two bowls, one filled with cocoa powder and one with finely chopped nuts for rolling. Roll some of the balls in cocoa powder, and some of the balls in nuts.

Be warned, these are the beginnings of an addiction!






27 Responses to “Dark chocolate truffles, without a temper”

  1. Deanna says:

    I clicked on this post immediately after telling my husband that anything dipped in chocolate is a pain in the a**! (He wants me to make those homemade peppermint patties.) I love that these don’t require that. Truffles rolled in finely grated coconut are delicious too!

  2. PastryPal says:

    Deanna — I, for one, love coconut, and would love a truffle like that. You can also add mint extract to the cream, if you want that mint flavor. And to please the husband ;)

  3. Deeba@PAB says:

    Oh, tres embarrassment…LOL at your stories Irina. I’m still recovering from the one at the pastry class! I’m with ‘her’…i despise coconut & it’s happened to me too often! ACK!! But I do ♥ these…deep, sensuous and wicked! I’ll have 4 please… mmm!!

  4. PastryPal says:

    Hi Deeba — LOL is right, and not you too with the coconut! This just go to show you, never give coconut anything as a gift.

  5. Michelle says:

    Dark chocolate truffles are definitely the most decadent treat I can think of. These look amazing.

    Thanks for sharing your “truffle” story. Glad to know that you were a novice at this baking thing at one time. :)

  6. Dianne@VeggieGirl says:

    Wow – these look fantastic!!! I want one right now!

  7. The best truffle recipe ever. This is encouraging me to try it out right away.

  8. PastryPal says:

    Michelle — They are so decadent. I’ve been having some “decadence” every day lately.
    Dianne — Thanks! Sending a virtual one your way :)
    Priya — Hopefully, you will!

  9. Cyndy says:

    I adore coconut. These sound divine and are so doable. I have the Callebaut on hand. haven’t done much since my oven went out of commission. hope to have that remedied soon! beautiful photo’s as usual Irina!

  10. PastryPal says:

    Cyndy — I feel your oven-less pain and I hope you get back in it soon. Does that mean your stovetop is out too? These require no oven, hint, hint…

  11. Cyndy says:

    Oh No! I have a wall oven and a stovetop. And i’m going to make these this weekend. I have lots of Macadamia’s, almonds and some toasted coconut (for me) that will go perfectly with these. I don’t want my oven fixed………… I want a new one, dual with convection although i’m going to settle for getting this one fixed. but after the holidays? Hello Jenn Air ! LOL Merry Christmas to me!

  12. “Raped and pillaged” LOL. I love your story. It sounds just like something that would happen to me. And of course these rich morsels are a delight to the tongue and eyes.

  13. cat says:

    This looks fantastic, thank you for posting. If I may ask: if I were to add a liqueur or extract to flavor these, at which stage would I add it?

  14. Even though I love coconut, I’d be pretty disapoointed too! Truffles mean rich, dark sinful chocolate :) Though I’ll gladly eat whatever coconut truffles you make ;)

  15. PastryPal says:

    Cat — Hope you try them. You can add the extract or liqueur right after the cream comes to a boil. You don’t want to boil off the alcohol, so remove boiled mix from the heat, add your extract or liqueur to the pot and pour all of that over the chocolate. Then proceed with the whisking.

  16. cat says:

    Thank you for responding to my comment! I’m definitely going to try them :)

  17. Mrs Ergül says:

    I thought you had gone missing! So glad to see you back in action and I wonder if you will please include the instructions for the tempered version. Thanks in advance and happy holidays to you!

  18. PastryPal says:

    Mrs Ergül — Eh, that was just a temporary lapse :). Glad to see you back, too. I am planning to do a post on tempered chocolate, but since it’s more work and more complicated, I wanted it to be its own post.

  19. Zo says:

    Was stressing hardcore about Christmas presents until I remembered this post. You are a lifesaver – so thankful to see a truffle recipe without corn syrup in (which we don’t get in New Zealand) but which has a touch of added sweetness (pure ganache truffles are for hardcore dark chocolate lovers, but not everyone!). If I were to add a hint of liqueur how much do you think I could get away with (heheh)?

  20. PastryPal says:

    Zo — Thanks fo thinking of these as gifts! If you can’t find corn syrup, feel free to substitute sugar for corn syrup in any truffle recipe. For a liqueur addition, I’d say add 2-3 tablespoons should do it. Since the alcohol is an added liquid, I think the cream quantity should be reduced by that same amount. And keep them refrigerated until you’re ready to share. They will get soft at room temp!
    Which liqueur are you thinking of using?

  21. Zo says:

    Hehe, what liqueur am I NOT thinking of using?! I’ve got some chambord and tia maria that I have on hand, plus some orange and almond essence, so I will try those to begin with. Have been dying to get some cointreau or grand marnier though! Just have to think of appropriate “coatings” eventually, without too much extra effort.

  22. PastryPal says:

    Oh, man, those sound soooo good. Now I want to get drunk on truffles.

  23. anh says:

    Your truffles look absolutely amazing!

  24. Eileen says:

    Thank you so much for this tutorial! I can’t tell you how many truffle recipes I’ve seen, introduced with the caveat: “Truffles are the simplest recipe ever. Anyone can make them.” A few hours later, I’m cursing in the kitchen, as first the chocolate doesn’t melt, and then it gets too hard, and then won’t form into balls, and then melts on my hands, etc. Your descriptions and pictures truly did make the process easy. I made them today & they’re delicious.

  25. New-to-baking says:

    Do you think I can do half dark and half milk chocolate to make these truffles slightly sweet (so that my children can enjoy them too?) or should I just add more sugar?

  26. PastryPal says:

    New-to-Baking, you can feel free to substitute half milk chocolate. It would work really well.

  27. [...] adapted from Irina’s awesome and fully illustrated recipe [...]

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