Slightly uneven little spheres dusted in cocoa to simulate the soil on a freshly dug fungus — the black Tuber melanosporum — defines a chocolate truffle at its most basic. Inside is a firm yet velvety center, a confection called ganache. Truffles are never cheap, but before you take out the credit card, consider the homemade variety; they could not be easier to produce and do not require special equipment. With supervision, an 8-year-old can shape and dip truffles, perhaps as a Valentine’s gift.
In addition to the classic cocoa-coated version, chocolate truffles are often encased in a chocolate shell, sometimes embellished with nuts, icing and even gold leaf. Their flavor can also be varied according to whether you opt for dark, milk or white chocolate, add ingredients like raspberry puree, nuts and coffee, or spirits like port, brandy and even Champagne. Size matters, too. Chocolate truffles should be one-bite affairs, no more than 1 inch in diameter — 3/4-inch is ideal.
GRAPY CHOCOLATE TRUFFLES
- 6 ounces high-quality semisweet or bittersweet chocolate, 70% cacao
- 1/2 cup heavy cream
- 3 tablespoons ruby port or grape juice
- 1/2 cup unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder
Break chocolate into small pieces, place in a small, heavy saucepan and add cream. Place over low heat, stirring occasionally, until chocolate has melted. Remove from heat, stir in port or grape juice; transfer to a bowl. Cover and refrigerate until mixture is firm, about 2 hours.
Spread a sheet of waxed paper or parchment on a baking sheet. Have a bowl of ice water handy. Use a spoon or spoons, or melon-baller, to scoop mounds of chocolate mixture about 3/4-inch in diameter. Roll lightly between your palms to make nice spheres and place on the paper. Occasionally moisten the spoon and your hands with ice water to keep chocolate from sticking. Chill until firm, about 2 hours or overnight.
Spread cocoa powder on chilled plate. Remove truffles from refrigerator, roll each in cocoa and return them to the baking sheet. Refrigerate until firm. Truffles can be frozen up to one week. Makes about 40.
Nutritional information unavailable.