Chocolate truffles. Sigh. I know people who pay big bucks for them. Sigh. I am not of that mindset -- I make my own, and the end 100% justifies the means. Chocolate truffles are the easiest confection you will ever make resulting in the most gratitude and accolades. You got kids? Conduct an experiment. Give them a choice between a chocolate cupcake, a brownie, or, a truffle as an after-school snack. Truffle moms are the best moms -- call it "truffle love"!
Save your "don't give your kid a sweet snack after school" rant for another blog. I grew up getting a cookie and a glass of milk after school and I turned out better than a lot of kids walking around the neighborhood with an apple. Also, when I was raising my boys, they got home about 2:45PM. We didn't eat dinner until Joe got home, which always hovered around 6:00PM. In my own "Theory of Everything", I gave them their sweet snack and sent them outside to run-off their "sugar high" in the afternoon. Bedtime was when they got the cheese, cracker and apple slices.
You only get out of something what you put into it. Let's chat:
For the most part, I totally agree with that blanket statement, and, when it comes to chocolate in general, the higher-quality the chocolate the better -- it does affect the end result, somewhat. That said, if you're on a budget, there's no need to seek out expensive 65% cacao bars and imported cocoa powder in order to enjoy one of life's simple pleasures. Your truffles will still come out really, really good with a bag of lesser-expensive morsels, and, it's a way to share some homemade love with those you care about. This is the real world, and in it, unless you're a graduate of La Maison du Chocolat in Paris, most people don't give a damn -- all they want is a truffle. If ya got it, use it, even suggest it, but don't pretentiously insist on it -- it's unbecoming.
Truffles are little two-bite balls of smooth concentrated chocolate ganache (gahn-AHSH) goodness. To learn more about the differences in quality amongst chocolates and more in general about ~ Chocolate Ganache: What is is & How to Make It! ~, just click on the Related Article link below. Thanks to my ~ Oh Baby it's Never to Cold for Boston Cream Pie ~ post of last week, I've got two-thirds of a container of ganache on-hand. It doesn't have to be a holiday to make truffles! Feel the love!!!
FYI: The bigger the percentage of cacao, the less sweet the chocolate.
A lot of novice cooks don't know that when you get in the 65-75% range, you need to start considering adding a bit of sifted confectioners' sugar to the ganache. I don't like to "guess" my way through ganache, so, I don't put myself through the drama. Even when I'm making ganache using my favorite higher-end chocolate (Lindt), I stick to the one simply labeled: "bittersweet". Chocolate generically labeled "bittersweet" hovers around 50-55% cacao (a little more, a little less), and, you never have to experiment!
Trust me, nothing is worse than a chocolate truffle made cloyingly sweet with the addition of too much sugar, or worse, condensed milk. Stick with bittersweet. It tastes superb just the way it is, making it the all-purpose and wise choice. Speaking of taste. A lot of novice cooks also don't know that the only way to choose chocolate is to taste several brands side-by-side. Chocolate is as personal as buying a car. No one can do it for you -- you've got to test drive it yourself!
The classic way to make ganache, the easy way to make ganache & flavoring ganache.
Classically, ganache is an emulsion of finely-chopped chocolate and cream that gets whisked together in a double-boiler on the stovetop. It's easy. That said, I threw 'easy' under the bus for 'even easier' a couple of years ago: I heat the cream in the microwave and pour it into the bowl of chopped chocolate, cover it, wait a couple of minutes for the cream to melt the chocolate, then stir it together. It's foolproof and there's almost no cleanup involved -- if you're refrigerating the ganache, just keep it in the same bowl!
Whenever I'm making ganache I almost always flavor it with 2 teaspoons of vanilla extract, but, unlike some of the experts, I do not add it at the end, when I'm getting ready to whisk the cream and melted chocolate together. I stir it into the cream before I heat it in the microwave. I have no scientific evidence to prove this, but I think the evenly-flavored cream insures evenly-flavored ganache. There's more: ganache loves other flavors too. In addition to 1 teaspoon of vanilla, some of my other favorites are 1 teaspoon of almond, coconut, orange, rum, hazelnut or walnut!
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
16 ounces finely-chopped bittersweet chocolate, your favorite brand (or 16-ounces ounces bittersweet chocolate morsels, preferably mini-morsels), placed in a large bowl
~Steps 1 thru 4. Add the hot cream to the chocolate, give it a stir and cover it for 2 minutes. Uncover and whisk vigorously until ganache is smooth and shiny. Use as directed, or, cool to room temperature, about 1 hour, then cover and refrigerate until desired consistency is reached. For making truffles, you want the chocolate to be stiff, but scoopable, about 2-2 1/2 hours.
~ Step 5. Using a 1 1/4" ice-cream scoop as a measure, place flat-sided portions into the palm of your hand, quickly roll each one into a ball and place it on a baking pan that has been lined with parchment paper. Repeat this messy process, working as quickly as possible, until all truffles are rolled into balls. Wash your hands.
Note: If you are using a 1 1/4" ice-cream scoop as a measure, you will have 3 dozen truffles. There's only 2 dozen pictured because I used 1/3 of my ganache to frost my Boston Cream Pie!
Refrigerate, 2-3 hours or overnight...
For a neat & tidy presentation, transfer to candy papers.
Serve chilled (for firm truffles) or room temp (for softer truffles)!
Special Equipment List: cutting board; chef's knife; 2-cup measuring container; large bowl w/lid, or large bowl and plastic wrap; whisk or large spoon; baking pan; parchment paper
~ Confection Perfection: Teresa's Buckeye Candies ~ a try. You can find the recipe in Category 7 or 20!
Is there anyone that doesn't love the combination of chocolate and peanut butter? I didn't think so!
"We are all in this food world together." ~ Melanie Preschutti
(Recipe, Commentary and Photos courtesy of Melanie's Kitchen/Copyright 2015)