Monday, August 17, 2015

Stay Cool And Make Truffles

Chocolate truffles are easy to make and don't heat up the kitchen!

Don't get me wrong, I love and always will love baking — it's just that heating up the oven isn't quite as appealing in an 85-degree kitchen without air conditioning.

Good thing there is still a way to stay cool while whipping up some killer sweet treats. Homemade truffles are a great summer dessert alternative because you can use a microwave to heat the heavy cream for the ganache and you can get creative with the use of different flavorings and coatings.

For my recent batch of truffles, I added espresso powder to a dark chocolate ganache and rolled them in three different coatings — toasted walnuts, toasted coconut and dark cocoa powder.

Another option is to coat the truffles in melted chocolate and sprinkle the tops with nuts, candied fruit, colorful sugars, crushed espresso beans or fine sea salt...just about anything works.

The only hard rule is that if you want to add a flavoring the ganache, be certain to use alcohol-based extracts, not water-based, or your chocolate will seize. Flavorful alcohols like Kahlua, Amaretto, Grand Marnier and Kirsch work really well.

Here's the recipe:

Chocolate Truffles 
1 pound of chocolate, chopped or in chip form (My favorite is dark chocolate but milk or a combination of dark and milk also works.)
1 cup of heavy cream
alcohol based flavoring or 1 tablespoon espresso powder, optional

Place the chocolate in a mixing bowl.

Heat the cream in the microwave in 30-second intervals until it is simmering, stirring between intervals. Watch the cream closely so that it doesn't boil over. In my microwave the cream was simmering in just 90 seconds.

Pour the simmering cream over the chocolate and whisk until smooth. This is the time if you choose, to add flavorings to the ganache, just make sure the flavoring is alcohol-based. Water and chocolate do not mix! Set the mixture aside to cool until it's firm and scoopable. This takes about 1 hour. You can put the mixture in the fridge to speed the process.

When it's ready, scoop portions of the ganache onto a parchment-lined baking sheet. I used a 1-inch ball scoop for the task. Place the scoops of ganache in the refrigerator on a parchement lined sheetpan to chill for 20 to 30 minutes to firm them up enough so that you can use your hands to roll them into balls.
The scoops of ganache before chilling.
After the chilling, the scoops of ganache were easy to roll into balls.
After rolling the truffles into balls, roll them in the coating of your choice or dip them into melted chocolate.  I chose to roll them dark cocoa powder, chopped toasted walnuts and shredded coconut.

Rolling a truffle in chopped walnuts. You have to work quickly and get the truffle back into the fridge as soon as possible. Once chilled, place the truffles in candy papers and keep them stored in the refrigerator  until you are ready to serve.

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