There are some people who are eagerly anticipating it, and some who are painfully aware of it – Sunday is Valentine’s Day. Aside from the ubiquitous red hearts, another enduring symbol of this day is chocolate. It’s very easy to go and buy some chocolate, of course, but I always think that handmade things convey a better feeling of sincerity.
Chocolate truffles are really nothing more than firm chocolate ganache. They are very easily flavoured by the home cook – you can add espresso powder, nuts, fruit liquers, and even more exotic things – for example, tea flavours like Earl Grey, chai, and matcha. They do require a bit of time, mainly for the chopping and firming processes, though the former can be greatly expidated if you buy smaller bits of chocolate (ie. small chips or chips) instead of couverture (block) chocolate. The downside is that chocolate chips are usually not as of as high a quality as couverture. The best type of chocolate to use is 70% chocolate (bittersweet), but in principle, it should work with milk and white chocolate too. I used 0.79€ zartbitter chocolate I found at Rewe, so it doesn’t have to be expensive.
Materials and Methods
- 200g chocolate
- 100g 30% cream
- cocoa powder to dust
- other flavourings: chopped nuts (almonds, pistaschios, hazelnuts, etc.), 1tsp espresso powder, tea**, fruit oils, liquer **note: if you use tea, you will have to warm the cream separately from the chocolate (infuse the cream with the tea, remove the tea by straining or throwing away the tea bag, then combine it with the chocolate and let it sit for about five minutes)
- Chop chocolate and place in a glass cup or bowl.
- Add cream to the chocolate and place the cup in a small pot of water (water level should be up to the level of chocolate in the cup).
- Turn on the heat to the lowest setting and wait for the chocolate to warm and melt. This is basically a guerrilla kitchen-style double boiler =)
- Stir until there are no lumps left. At this point, you can add flavouring if you’d like.
- Remove cup/bowl from water and place in the refrigerator. Let it firm up to the consistency of semi-soft ice cream.
- Scoop the chocolate with a tea spoon (or a melon baller, if you have one) and form into a roughly spherical shape using another spoon.
- Roll the chocolate ball in cocoa powder or nuts to coat and set aside on a plate or tray (you can line it with wax paper if you want).
It took a while for me to establish a proper ratio of chocolate to cream, but I found that a 2:1 ratio of chocolate to cream works pretty well. If you want softer truffles, you can use more cream, and vice versa. Another trick for firming up chocolates is that you can leave them in the freezer for a bit, then transfer them back to the fridge. Even after it reaches the ambient temperature of the fridge, the chocolate will still be firmer than if you’d just left it in the fridge overnight. You can store the finished truffles for about a month (perhaps in the fridge, depending on what the temperature of the room is), though they don’t tend to last so long…