Recipe from Anna Olson, Food Network.
So did I tell you about the time my guard dog failed to guard and my chocolates were stolen by a horrible thief?
Nope, well here it is.
Fridge space is very very hard to come by at my house. When Christmas rolls around you are taking your life in your hands to open the fridge and freezer door. Make sure your feet are way back or they could get squished by some falling container. So we have to resort to putting things in coolers in the garage. If we're lucky enough it's cool enough to put things out on our deck where we have a glass table. After Christmas dinner this table can be entirely filled with platters of food. If it snows we've been known to put milk jugs, juice cartons and beer bottles into the snow to cool.
Our typical winter temperature are usually around 5 Celsius and rain, but we can get a cold spell for a week or two a year where we get -10 Celsius and snow. We hope for around Christmas time we don't get a Pineapple Express that brings us 10-15 Celsius temps because then our natural refrigerator is not possible and we have to fight with coolers in the garage.
So anyway, the first time I made these we were having one of those cold spells. I made the chocolates and put the cookie sheets out on the outside table and covered them with towels to keep any bugs off them. While our house backs onto the forest, we've never had any animals up on our deck, as it's a second story deck and they'd have to climb a flight of stairs. Simply put, we'd never had a problem leaving food outside.
We went to bed that night and woke up the following morning to see that the towels had blown off the cookie sheets. When we went outside we saw that the truffles were no longer lined up in neat rows on the sheets, but instead were all scattered like they'd been blown around. Upon closer inspection we realized that chocolates were missing.
We'd had many days of heavy frost in a row and it looked like a light dusting of snow had laid on the deck and when we walked over to the stairs we could see little foot prints tracking up and down the stairs.
Yup, a racoon walked up the stairs, stole my truffles, walked back down and then turned around and did it all again. Or at least that's what their tracks say.
Now we keep everything on the chest freezers in the garage when the weather turns cool enough to keep things cool.
Second time I decided to reduce the cream, realizing that the chocolate was the only thing hardening, so I needed to have more of that than 1:1. If you used bittersweet chocolate like the recipe originally called for, I'm sure the 1:1 ratio would work because bittersweet chocolate is harder.
Third time I did these, I did some reading I changed up the method again to be what I've listed here.
The first time I made these the racoon happened.
The second time I made these I had dipping chocolate that I've always used but the quality of it had really decreased and the inside of the truffles tastes so good and of a high quality and the outside was just not good.
Now I use good chocolate outside and it makes all the difference.
Technically truffles don't need to be dipped, but I find that these become way too soft if you don't and just become a pool of mush. I've rolled them in cocoa instead, but cocoa is so bitter on it's own and it really doesn't work. I'd recommend mixing the cocoa with powdered sugar if you're rolling instead of dipping. But I like to dip because you can decorate them differently with different toppings / designs so you can identify what each flavour is.
How I flavour mine / mark them:
Orange extract with grated orange zest sprinkled on top right after dipping
Frangelico Liqueur with coconut sprinkled on top right after dipping
Vanilla extract with a dab of white chocolate on top of milk dipped chocolates
I really want to try a raspberry flavoured one next.
But flavouring isn't essential and you could just leave them as is. The flavour isn't overpowering though, so it doesn't take away from the chocolate flavour. The vanilla is pretty mild and I found that I really couldn't differentiate between the vanilla flavoured and the unflavoured ones.
Try this link for some hints on flavouring truffles.
The easiest method I've come up with through a lot of trial and error to dip chocolate is to place each chocolate individually into a bowl of melted chocolate and scoop from underneath with a carving fork (one with two long prongs). The chocolate perches on top and the space between the two prongs allows excess chocolate to drain away with a bit of a tap on the edge of the bowl. I then transfer to fork to the cookie sheet and using a toothpick (or the long metal toothpicks we have for sealing up a turkey / checking cakes to see if they're cooked) scoop from underneath the truffle and ease it off the fork. This gets the most undisturbed sides and tops of the truffles, so no holes or scuffs on the sides like have happened with other methods for me.
I really see why chocolate shops charge $1 per truffle. These take an incredible amount of time to make and using good ingredients is pricy. Ingredients along cost me probably $0.30 a truffle if not more and that was with watching for chocolate to go on sale. So it's cheaper than buying truffles at a specialty shop, but the time might make it not such a good deal. Then again, I'd never go out and buy 5 1/2 dozen specialty truffles to give away because of price, so I feel like it's a good return for these to give as gifts. I also made little boxes to put these in with Xmas wrapping paper, and then little mini Xmas muffin cup liners to place each individual chocolate in.
Makes 5 1/2 Dozen Truffles
1 3/4 C. Heavy Cream
16 oz. Semi-Sweet Chocolate (I use 2 boxes, Baker's Semi-Sweet Chocolate)
1 Tbsp. Liqueur or Extract (Optional)
Good quality chocolate for dipping.
~Chop chocolate finely and place into large bowl
~Bring cream to a simmer, while being careful not to burn.
~Pour over shaved chocolate.
~With a spatula, mix together. It takes a bit, but continue to mix. Chocolate will begin to melt and eventually cream and chocolate will combine together into a smooth ganache.
~If flavouring, divide equally into separate bowls. A whole batch of this needs 1 tbsp of flavouring. So 3 bowls would each need 1 tsp of flavouring
~Cover with plastic wrap and chill
~Once chilled, bring one bowl at a time out of fridge and using two spoons, scoop out a small dollop of ganache and form into a rough ball shape and place on a wax paper lined cookie sheet. Work quickly so it doesn't warm up.
~If you have a second person, they can roll the rough balls into formed balls with a quick roll of their hands, making sure to limit the time in your hands. If working alone, place tray back into the fridge and chill before rolling into formed balls.
~Repeat with remaining bowls of ganache
~Place finished truffle balls on cookie sheets into freezer and freeze through.
~Melt dipping chocolate and bring out truffles in small batches to dip.
~Dip and place onto fresh waxed paper lined cookie sheets. Cool in fridge to set.
Truffles should be stored in refrigerator and can be eaten chilled or brought to room temperature before serving.
They do freeze and taste good frozen, but you don't get the creamy / gooey effect when biting into them, and they have a habit of sweating upon thawing which sometimes occurs and sometimes doesn't and it really has seemed to depend on the type of chocolate / humidity levels at the time. So test before relaying on them to look perfect out of the freezer.