By Elizabeth Wulfhorst
Christmas will be here in less than two weeks. And if you haven’t finished decorating, purchasing gifts and wrapping them, we have one word for you: alcohol.
We’re not suggesting you start drinking heavily. But adding a few tablespoons of alcohol to your baking and cooking during the holidays packs a real flavor punch.
In our Holiday sections this year we’re featuring relatively easy recipes for making delicious edible gifts. Previously we showed you how to make Chocolate Sea Salt Caramels, festive Cake Pops, and rich Holiday Shortbread, treats perfect for packaging and sharing.
This week we’re showing you how to make chocolate truffles, a simple confection which benefits greatly from the addition of alcohol. Although, don’t most things?
Chocolate truffles (not to be confused with savory culinary truffles, the fungus found mainly in France by trained, routing pigs) are made from ganache, a basic mixture of chocolate and cream. The ratio of those two ingredients determines whether you have a delicious glaze, a lovely sauce, an icing or a truffle. Here we’re going 2:1 chocolate to cream, which gives a mixture solid enough to scoop but soft enough to mold.
And to make these delectable bites you won’t even need to turn on the oven.
As with the previous treats, we’re adding a few extras to make these truffles holiday-worthy (ahem, alcohol). We’ve used bourbon and Chambord here, but feel free to use your favorite spirit. Rum is a classic choice or Grand Marnier would make a delicious chocolate-orange truffle.
Here are a few tips to make your truffles look and taste great:
Dark chocolate is an intense flavor. Make sure you don’t skimp on the alcohol or you won’t be able to taste it in the finished truffle.
The ganache will set quicker if it’s in a shallow layer. Choose your pans accordingly. If you start with a small, deep bowl you’ll have to wait longer for the mixture to harden to scoop-ability.
Unless your room is really warm the ganache should set up quite nicely on the counter in 2-3 hours. It should be just soft enough to scoop fairly easily but hard enough to hold its shape. If it seems too soft you can pop the pans in the refrigerator for 20 minutes.
This recipe uses espresso powder to make the coffee truffles, so you have one version for the nondrinkers, but feel free to substitute a coffee liqueur instead, such as Kahlúa or Tia Maria.
Candy cups, like tiny cupcake liners, are inexpensive and readily available at most craft stores and even some grocery stores. You don’t need them, but they keep the truffles from rolling around and losing some of their coating.
Start to finish: 1 hour, plus cooling
Servings: Approximately 60 truffles
2 pounds good quality dark chocolate, chopped, divided
12 ounces (1 ½ cups) heaving whipping cream, divided
3 Tablespoons bourbon
2 teaspoons vanilla, divided
¾ cup pecans, toasted and chopped, divided
3 tablespoons raspberry liqueur (like Chambord)
1.2-ounce bag freeze-dried raspberries
1 ½ tablespoons espresso powder
¼ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
Place 8 ounces of chocolate in each of three separate, heat-proof containers (bowls, pie plates, loaf pans or cake pans).
In a small saucepan over medium heat bring 4 ounces cream and 3 tablespoons bourbon just to a boil. Remove from heat and stir in 1 teaspoon of the vanilla.
Immediately pour the hot cream mixture over the chocolate in one of the bowls or pans. Do not stir. Allow to set for a few minutes while you clean and dry the saucepan.
When the chocolate looks melty, slowly begin stirring the cream and chocolate together with a silicone spatula. At first it will seem like the mixture is not coming together, but just keep stirring. Eventually everything will combine into dark, thick, shiny deliciousness. Once everything is combined, stir in ¼ cup of the toasted, chopped pecans. Set aside to cool.
Add 4 more ounces cream to the clean saucepan, along with the 3 tablespoons raspberry liqueur. Bring to a boil.
Repeat the procedure from above, pouring the hot cream over the chocolate in a second bowl and letting it sit while you clean out the saucepan again.
Once the chocolate looks melty, gently stir as before until the mixture comes together. When it’s completely combined, set aside to cool.
Repeat the whole thing one more time with the final 4 ounces of cream, this time adding the expresso powder, whisking to make sure all the powder is dissolved. When it comes to a boil, remove from the heat and add the remaining teaspoon vanilla. Pour over the remaining 8 ounces of chocolate.
Let rest a few minutes until the chocolate looks melty and then stir to combine. Set aside with the other pans to cool.
Go watch “Love Actually” and have a glass of wine. Or some of the bourbon you didn’t use in the truffles. Sing some carols. Get in the Christmas spirit!
Place the remaining pecans in a small bowl. Put the cocoa powder in a separate bowl. Blitz the freeze-dried raspberries in a food processor for a few seconds until powdery. Add the raspberry powder to a third small bowl.
Now it’s time to create the truffles. A small cookie scoop is your friend; it can help you easily scoop up the set ganache while forcing it into a rough approximation of the shape you’re shooting for. The balls of chocolate don’t have to be completely round (they are supposed to mimic the fungus found by pigs in France, after all) but they should get close to spherical.
Place the truffles on a cookie sheet as you scoop them, making sure to keep your flavors separate.
Once all the ganache is scooped, starting with the bourbon-flavored balls, roll each truffle between your palms (like you’re making meatballs) to smooth it out and warm it a little. This will help the nuts adhere to the outside. Warning: this is a messy business. Keep damp paper towels handy for wiping your hands.
Drop the bourbon truffles into the pecans and use your fingers to press in the nuts, completely covering the chocolate. As you finish coating each truffle, place it into a small paper candy cup. Repeat with the remaining bourbon truffles.
Do the same with the rest of the truffles, rolling the espresso ones in the cocoa powder and the raspberry truffles in the powdered, freeze-dried raspberries. These won’t need anything more than a gentle push around the bowl as the cocoa and raspberry powders will adhere quite easily.
Pack six truffles to a small box, two of each flavor, for gift-giving.
Store the truffles in the refrigerator, tightly covered, for up to two weeks, bringing to room temperature before serving.
This article was first published in the Feb. 28-March. 6, 2019 print edition of The Two River Times.
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