Open Source Truffles

I think everyone loves chocolate truffles! They are exotic and luscious yet deceptively easy to make with a couple of ingredients.

12 oz chocolate
4 oz cream

optional 2 Tablespoons of a flavoring (extract, liqueur, etc.)

Look! I just so happen to have all those items on hand, so, let’s get truffling!

Let ’s take a moment to talk about chocolate, shall we? Because chocolate is the main ingredient in the truffle, I want a good quality bittersweet chocolate. Nothing too bitter and nothing too sweet. I know I can’t go wrong if I use one of my favorites. My rule of thumb is to use only chocolate I would savor right from the wrapper.

Armed with my trusty perfectly honed chef’s knife, I finely chop 12 ounces chocolate. If faced with a large block of chocolate, I would grate it with a medium cheese grater. But, who wouldn’t?

A fine, consistent texture will help the chocolate melt quickly and evenly, so, before I place the chocolate in a shallow glass baking dish, I carefully inspect the chopped chocolate to make sure that it meets my standards.

Oh! No! A stay chunk of chocolate! And I have cleaned up my knife and put it away. I guess I’ll have to eat it.

Contrasting to the dark chocolaty goodness is my creamy friend here. She is a great role model because she is not shy about announcing that she’s 4 ounces of heavy cream and proud of it.

I measure two tablespoons of my chosen flavoring. This is where I can let my creative side shine! The flavor combinations are endless, but, I know I can’t go wrong with single flavors such as cognac, framboise, mint, or amaretto. Today, I’ve have chosen an elegant orange flavored liquor. Sure, you can use an extract if you like. You can even omit adding any flavoring. High-quality chocolate can hold it’s own without embellishment, you now. The liqueur gets added later, but it’s ready to go at a moments notice.

I remain calm under pressure while heating the cream to a boil. Her soothing personality and unique style make it easy to be vigilant without getting distracted. The moment she boils, I calmly remove the cream from the heat.

In an effort to avoid any unpleasant scalding injuries, I have acquired the services of a certified professional cream pourer to pour the dangerously boiling cream evenly over all of the chopped chocolate. For me, it’s a good value for my money.

Precise timing is vital! Not enough time and the chocolate won’t melt, too much and it starts to solidify again. I set my digital timer for 2 minutes.

For those two minutes, I calm my mind and remain present with the melting chocolate. No time to write a haiku or tidy the kitchen. No time to be distracted. Mindfulness is all important as my focus remains on the magic that is occurring.

When two minutes are up, I use long, smooth strokes to the melted chocolate and cream until they abandon their separate identities and become one.

The moment the chocolate and cream mélange is smooth, I sprinkle my orange liqueur over it and continue gently stirring using slow, graceful sweeps of the spatula-thingie.

The co-mingling of the chocolate and orange aromas is stunning! I stir until it is smooth and creamy. We culinary types officially dub this heavenly mixture a ganache.

A tight layer of plastic wrap over the dish keeps the silky ganache moist as it relaxes in the fridge for about 3 hours. (as a bonus the wrap prevents the absorption of any un-truffle-like aromas that might be lurking about.)

Important Note: If you are making truffle hearts, you’ll want to head over to those instructions now.  If not, continue on with these instructions my dear chocolate lover.

After 3 hours, the ganache is firm and fudgy. It’s ready to removed from the fridge and measured out into 1 teaspoon portions. I have chosen a lively milonga as my musical accompaniment to liven things up a bit.

A delicate dusting of confectioners sugar (that’s icing sugar to you Brits) on the palms of my hand keeps the ganache from sticking to my terrycloth as I quickly roll each portion into a ball. Voila! A truffle is born!

Now, I can dip my truffle in additional confections sugar, unsweetened cocoa, chopped nuts or leave it “au natural.” A dip into nice tempered chocolate to form a hard coating is also an option, but, as Alton Brown would say, “that’s another show.”

For a festive and elegant presentation, I like to wrap my plain truffles in an attractive gold foil.

A little candy cup makes perfect and safe nesting places for any newborn truffle.

Of course, there is always one truffle that is impatient and begs to be eaten. I can never say no! Mmmm. Delish!

These little cuties will keep for 2 weeks in the fridge tucked into an airtight container. So that they look and feel their best, I position my truffly friends in an attractive arrangement on a serving tray about an hour before they will be served. Go ahead; take one. Take two; they’re small!

For an extra special presentation, I like to make Open Source Truffle Hearts.