I stumbled upon this recipe while I was looking for something to make as a small thank-you for someone in my office. There are so many cookies floating around this time of year that I wanted something a bit more special, but with my Burdick’s Chocolate budget running low, I decided I’d attempt some delicious chocolate morsels of my own.
Smitten Kitchen made this seem like a messy task (including rubber gloves!), so I set aside a whole Sunday afternoon to tackle my chocolate project. I had never made truffles before, and considering I often make three times the mess that a recipe calls for, I figured I should set aside enough time for a large-scale cleanup.
Begin by finely chopping the chocolate. The recipe calls for Valhrona 56% chocolate, but after touring the 3 priciest local grocery stores and coming out empty handed (and breathing a little sigh of relief), I settled on Scharffen Berger which seemed to work out just fine. I even added a couple ounces of Godiva, because I wanted to make sure I had enough.
Boil slightly more than ⅔ of a cup of heavy cream in a heavy-bottomed small saucepan. (Use a little extra to compensate for evaporation during boiling) Linxe boils it three times (believing that it makes the ganache last longer), so I followed suit, making sure to let the ganache cool a bit between boils. Pay close attention to the pot, the cream will appear to be steady in one instant and boiling over the next.
Pour the hot cream over the larger bowl of chocolate and stir it slowly in concentric circles with a wisk. Be careful not to beat air into it and create bubbles. Once the cream has been incorporated into the chocolate, let it stand at room temperature until it is thick enough to hold a shape. It took mine a little less than an hour and a half to firm up.
While this was setting up I learned how to use my new pastry kit from Williams Sonoma, which did not come with a ⅜ tip, so I started with the largest of the star shaped tips and made a few rows on a parchment lined baking sheet. I was worried the truffles would come out ridged (have you ever seen ridged truffles? I hadn’t) so I removed the tip and just used the pastry bag with an empty coupler, which was much faster and made more regular shaped truffles. In the end, I couldn’t tell a difference between those that I used the star tip on, but for the sake of time saved using only the coupler, I’ll do it that way again.
Place the truffles in the freezer for 15 minutes to harden. While they’re in there, melt the smaller bowl of chocolate (I turned my pyrex dish into a double boiler) and set up a truffle-coating assembly line with five slots. In the first slot will go the truffles, in the second: the bowl of melted chocolate with a small spatula, the third: unsweetened high-quality cocoa powder (again Linxe recommends Valhrona), the fourth: a metal sieve over a bowl, and in the fifth: another parchment lined tray for your finished truffles.
Once the truffles have firmed up in the freezer, put on some rubber gloves and smear a bit of melted chocolate onto your palm. Lightly coat the truffle with melted chocolate and then drop it into the cocoa powder to give it its freshly-dug-from-the-earth appearance. Deb recommends dropping the truffle immediately into the metal sieve, but I found that it left marks on the truffle, so I piled them onto the parchment and then tossed them in the sieve once the delicate chocolate coating had a chance to cool (and I needed to recycle my cocoa powder).
Robert Linxe’s Chocolate Truffles
Adapted from Smitten Kitchen / Gourmet 2001
Makes about 60 truffles (Linxe says not to double the recipe).
11 ounces Valrhona chocolate (56% cacao)
2/3 cup heavy cream
Valrhona cocoa powder for dusting
Finely chop 8 ounces of the chocolate and put in a bowl. Bring heavy cream to a boil in a small heavy saucepan. Make sure your pan is small, so you’ll lose the least amount of cream to evaporation, and heavy, which will keep the cream from scorching. Linxe boils his cream three times — he believes that makes the ganache last longer. If you do this, compensate for the extra evaporation by starting with a little more cream.
Pour the cream over the chocolate, mashing any big pieces with a wooden spoon.
Then stir with a whisk in concentric circles (don’t beat or you’ll incorporate air), starting in the center and working your way to the edge, until the ganache is smooth.
Let stand at room temperature until thick enough to hold a shape, about 1 hour, then, using a pastry bag with a 3/8-inch opening or tip, pipe into mounds (about 3/4 inch high and 1 inch wide) on parchment-lined baking sheets. When piping, finish off each mound with a flick of the wrist to soften and angle the point tip. Freeze until firm, about 15 minutes.
Meanwhile, melt 3 more ounces of the same Valrhona and smear some on a gloved hand. Gently rub each chilled truffle to coat lightly with chocolate. (The secret to a delicate coating of chocolate is to roll each truffle in a smear of melted chocolate in your hand. Linxe always uses gloves.)
Toss the truffles in unsweetened Valrhona cocoa powder so they look like their namesakes, freshly dug from the earth. A fork is the best tool for tossing truffles in cacao. Shake truffles in a sieve to eliminate excess cacao.
Store truffles in the refrigerator.