Many of the bonbons beckoning in chic candy boutiques are best turned out by professionals. But homemade chocolate truffles can match or surpass those from candy shops and are quite doable even by newbie cooks.
The ganache to make the truffles requires a chocolate with at least 60 percent but no more than 65 percent cacao; otherwise they won’t have either the right consistency or sweetness. If you like, you can choose several different brands -- say, one with 60 percent cacao and one with 70 percent cacao -- and blend them to yield the cacao percentage needed.
The recipe also calls for fresh or dried lavender, which is a lovely, haunting complement to both the chocolate and berry flavors. However, if you don’t grow lavender in your garden, don’t find it in your supermarket’s spice section (McCormick does offer it in the gourmet line) or can’t obtain it from a local health food store or online purveyor, it is okay to just omit it from the recipe.
Although it’s traditional to hand-dip the truffles in chocolate, then dust them with unsweetened cocoa powder (so they resemble earth-born truffles), I like to skip the dipping and simply roll the balls in finely chopped chocolate. That method, presented here, is much easier, and nearly as good.
If you prefer the classic cocoa coating, prepare the recipe just to the point it calls for coating the ganache balls in chopped chocolate, then see the related recipe for Cocoa-Dusted Truffles. (You won’t need the cup of chopped chocolate if preparing the cocoa-dusted version.)
Yield: Makes 1-inch truffles
- For the ganache
- 1 1/4 cups fresh or frozen (defrosted) blackberries
- 1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon sugar
- 1 tablespoon dried culinary lavender (may substitute three 5-inch fresh lavender sprigs; see headnote; optional)
- 11 1/2 ounces 60 to 65 percent cacao chocolate, coarsely chopped or broken up
- 2/3 cup heavy (whipping) cream
- 1 teaspoon raspberry extract
- Warm water (optional)
- For the coating
- 1 cup bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, a cacao percentage you like, finely chopped in a food processor
For the ganache: Combine the blackberries and sugar in a nonreactive medium saucepan. Let them stand, stirring occasionally, until the berries begin to release their juice. Place over low heat, stirring and mashing the berries with the spoon. When all of their juices are released and the berries are mushy, increase the heat to medium or medium-high so the mixture boils briskly. Stir in the lavender and cook for about 5 minutes, stirring, until the liquid boils down and thickens somewhat in the pan but does not burn. Remove it from the heat.
Strain the berry mixture through a fine-mesh strainer into a medium microwave-safe bowl; press down on the solids to force through as much liquid as possible. Add the chopped chocolate to the bowl, but don’t stir it into the berries. Without stirring, warm the chocolate by microwaving the bowl for 1 minute on 100 percent power.
Rinse and wipe out the saucepan previously used. Bring the cream just to a boil over medium-high heat. Pour a scant half of the cream over the chocolate mixture (no need to measure) and stir until well blended and smooth. Slowly add the remaining cream, stirring vigorously until the mixture is thoroughly blended and smooth. Stir in the raspberry extract. If the mixture looks oily and is stiff, stir in 1 to 2 teaspoons of warm water or enough to yield a slightly soft consistency. Don’t worry if the mixture seems too fluid; it will gradually stiffen as it stands at room temperature.
Use nonstick cooking oil spray to grease an 8-inch square pan, then line it with baking parchment or wax paper, allowing it to overhang on two sides. Grease the paper with nonstick cooking oil spray. Turn out the mixture into the pan, shaking the pan to even the layer. Cover it and let it stand at room temperature for at least 6 hours and up to 12 hours. Then, refrigerate it until chilled and firm, up to 36 hours if desired.
Lift the ganache slab out onto a cutting board. Cut the slab in quarters and peel off the paper. Working with one quarter at a time, cut the portion into 10 equal portions.
To coat the truffles with chopped chocolate: Put the grated chocolate in a shallow bowl. One at a time, roll the truffle portions between your hands to form a ball, then immediately roll and press each into the chopped chocolate until evenly coated all over. Place in individual paper candy cups or
small decorative presentation boxes.
Refrigerate the truffles for up to a week. Let them warm up slightly before serving.
From cookbook author Nancy Baggett.
Tested by Nancy Baggett.
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