Dark Chocolate Truffles with Variations
If you're looking for a decadent everyday treat or something sweet for your loved ones on Valentines Day, you'll adore this quick Chocolate Truffle recipe — with several variations to choose from you'll want to bookmark this recipe and try them all.
Unlike other truffles you may have tried (Lindt, Vosges etc), traditional French truffles don't have a hard crack chocolate shell. They are delightfully soft and velvety smooth with a generous coating of high quality cocoa powder. Personally I prefer them to the chocolate dipped variety and feel the ganache center is rich enough without adding more chocolate. They are also less labor intensive this way and quicker to make since I've saved you the trouble of tempering the dipping chocolate, a task fraught with potential pitfalls.
I made this recipe for the first time in my tiny catering kitchen 20 years ago, and they quickly because a client favorite. Back then, visiting Surfas in LA was the equivalent of a weekly Target run but, instead of paper towels, I was buying Wonka sized 11 lb blocks of Callebaut Bittersweet Chocolate and chopping them up to make truffles for parties, weddings, and private jets (I know, so very LA). You can read more of that story here in this post.
If you too are a lover of food history you'll enjoy reading about the various legends surrounding the origins of the chocolate truffle. One legend says patissier Louis Dufour created them for Christmas Day in 1885. Another says Auguste Escoffier was responsible for their creation when his apprentice made a mistake and poured hot cream over chocolate. Either way, since the truffle's history varies depending who is telling it you can click here or here and decide which one is most charming for yourself.
Let's move onto the truffles themselves. I am going to provide you with the base recipe for a very traditional French chocolate truffle then give you several variations to add to your chocolatier repertoire. I suggest starting with the iconic simple truffle first then branching out from there. I personally love to double the batch, keeping half plain then adding flavor profiles to the second batch.
High quality chocolate is essential since it is the star of the show here, so splurge on the best quality you can find and afford. I like semi-sweet (not milk or dark) for my truffles.
In culinary school, Callebaut was my gateway to fine chocolate. We had an entire month to appreciate what different types of chocolate have to offer. We studied flavor, melting point, richness, and versatility. This chocolate is a great jumping-off point if you're only reference is Hershey's or Nestle. It's easy to find in large, shrink-wrapped chunks at supermarkets like Whole Foods and The Fresh Market, and it can also be ordered as disks in bulk online; the latter is simply a convenient, no-chop incarnation that's formulated the exact same way. Callebaut is also easy to temper (a skill you can master with Kenji's excellent tempering guide) should you decided to give future truffle batches a quick dunk.
Here's where things get fun. The base recipe below only has 4 ingredients: heavy cream, chocolate, vanilla extract, and cocoa. This means they are a wonderful blank slate for additional flavor profiles. The trick is to not add ingredients with a high water content or overdo it on additional liquid because your ganache won't set. And if it won't set, you'll have chocolate sauce not truffle ganache. Think equal parts liquid and chocolate, okay?
For the variations below substitute the vanilla for the liquid of your choice and cocoa powder for the garnish of your choice. Here are some ideas to try:
Jameson Irish Whisky Crushed Pistachio
Grand Marnier Crushed Almonds
Bailey's or Kaluah Chocolate dunked (see above) & sprinkle of sea salt
Espresso powder Chocolate sprinkles
Peppermint extract Crushed peppermints
Vanilla bean paste Coconut flakes
Base Chocolate Truffle recipe
DARK CHOCOLATE TRUFFLES
2/3 cup (160ml) heavy cream
12 oz (226g) semi-sweet quality chocolate (finely chopped).
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Unsweetened cocoa powder, for rolling the truffles in.
1. Bring the cream and vanilla to a simmer in a medium saucepan. Scald it slightly until you see bubbles forming at the rim of your saucepan. Remove from the heat, add the chopped chocolate, and stir until smooth.
2. Pour into a bowl and place in the fridge until the mixture is firm, about 2-3 hours.
3. Scoop out spoonfuls using a cookie dough scoop and your hands. Roll into 1-inch balls. Place on a baking sheet lined with baking parchment and return to the fridge to chill again.
4. Dust your hands with cocoa powder and place a truffle in the cocoa, rolling it until it's coated. Store finished truffles in an airtight container in the refrigerator, and bring them to room temperature before serving.
Next up: Forget the caviar, Make this Black Gold Olive Tapenade instead.