Food and dining editor
(Ashleigh Joplin/The Washington Post)

The first time I made truffles from chocolate ganache, it was a revelation: How could just two ingredients, chocolate and cream, set up to form such a perfect texture? It almost felt like a cheat; this shouldn’t be so easy. Scoop, roll, coat, done.

It wasn’t until I cooked with two of my favorite vegan chefs, Rich Landau and Kate Jacoby, a few years ago that my truffles evolved further. Jacoby showed me how to make a pot de creme using little more than dark chocolate, beet juice, coconut milk and cornstarch. I loved it warm — and then noticed that when I refrigerated it, guess what happened? Yep, just like ganache.

I figured a simple coconut milk-chocolate combo would do the same thing, so I tried it, and sure enough, magic. Since then, I’ve seen plenty of other recipes that play with the same ingredients — and often add several others — but I’ve never found a good enough reason to branch out beyond that effective one-two punch.

I have experimented with lots of coatings, though: Plain cocoa, unsweetened coconut, pecans or other nuts, chipotle or other ground chiles for the brave-hearted. I love them all, but the best coating of all came to me when I was rooting around the pantry for inspiration. I found a bag of freeze-dried strawberries and blitzed them to a powder in a mini food processor, and the truffles I rolled in them turned out to be my favorite. (Freeze-dried raspberries would be a natural, too.)

The best thing about these is that if you use dairy-free chocolate, they’re vegan, and just as tasty as traditional ones, which broadens their appeal to include just about anybody who loves chocolate.

The second-best thing? The fact that, unlike ones made with heavy cream, they’re built on shelf-stable ingredients I happen to always have around. That means I can melt, scoop, roll and coat them on little more than a whim.

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(Ashleigh Joplin/The Washington Post)

Vegan Chocolate Truffles

24 to 30 pieces

With just high-quality dark chocolate and coconut milk, you’ve got deeply flavored truffles that you can roll in your choice of coatings. Below are suggestions for making a box or plate that includes five varieties, but feel free to mix and match, or choose other favorite possibilities.

You’ll need paper candy cups. A #100 size disher is helpful for making consistently same-size truffles.

MAKE AHEAD: The ganache needs to be refrigerated for 1 to 2 hours before you form and coat the truffles. The finished truffles can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 5 days.

From Food and Dining Editor Joe Yonan.

Ingredients

1 cup full-fat coconut milk, stirred well

10 1/2 ounces dairy-free dark chocolate (preferably 75 percent or higher cacao), finely chopped

1/2 cup freeze-dried strawberries (about 1/2 ounce)

1/4 cup unsweetened, dessicated (dried) coconut

2 tablespoons chopped pecans or nut of your choice

1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder

1 tablespoon chipotle powder

Steps

Heat the coconut milk in a small pan over low heat until it’s just starting to bubble.

Place the chocolate in a medium heatproof bowl. Immediately pour the warm coconut milk over it, whisking to form a smooth ganache. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate until set, 1 to 2 hours.

Grind the dried strawberries to a fine powder in a mini food processor or clean spice grinder, then transfer the powder to a small bowl. Place the coconut, pecans, cocoa powder and chipotle powder in separate small bowls.

Once the truffle mixture has set, uncover it. Grease your hands with cooking oil spray and use a tablespoon-size scoop or #100 disher to scoop out a ball, then roll it lightly between your palms. Place on a tray, and repeat to create balls using the remaining truffle mixture. (Your palms will become covered in chocolate as you work, and the balls will soften on the outside, but that’s okay.)

Use a fork to help lift and toss the truffles. Roll some of them in strawberry powder, some in coconut, some in pecans, some in cocoa powder, some in chipotle powder (for those who don’t mind something fiery) or in a mix of chipotle and cocoa (for a kick that’s a little milder) until well coated. You may need to use your fingers to press in the coconut and the pecans. Set each one into a paper candy cup as you finish.

When all the truffles are made, pack them into an airtight container (being careful not to stack them) and refrigerate until ready to serve -- or give.

Nutrition | Per piece (based on 30): 80 calories, 0 g protein, 6 g carbohydrates, 6 g fat, 4 g saturated fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 0 mg sodium, 2 g dietary fiber, 3 g sugar

Recipe tested by Joe Yonan; email questions to food@washpost.com

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