Sunday, September 2, 2012

Recipe Box: French Chocolate Truffles

Oh yeah, I said truffles.   These are fantastic little sensory parties in the mouth, starting with the first shock of dark chocolate, followed by the smooth texture of cream, and finally a breath of heady cognac.

The original recipe calls for 1 cup whipping cream, but it was intended to be enclosed in tempered chocolate as a center.  I made straight truffles with a coating of cocoa, but they were a little too soft and messy to handle.  I would recommend, if leaving them un-dipped, that you reduce the cream by 3 tablespoons to give a firmer and easier to handle piece of chocolate.  Of course, if you have to leave out the booze, for whatever reason, then you've already reduced the liquid portion of the chocolate and should be just fine with a full cup of cream.

These should be stored in the fridge or freezer.  They're very edible straight from the freezer (like little bites of super-chocolatey gelato) but they lose some nuances of flavor from the cream and liqueur.  You could store the bulk in the freezer and take out a few a day to rest in the fridge to really get the many levels of flavor.

Also, don't use cheap booze.  If you can't afford Grand Marnier or an equal quality brandy or cognac, leave it out.  Don't cook with anything you wouldn't drink straight, because the flavor will affect it significantly. With some hunting, you may be able to get Grand Marnier in a 3 oz "airline" bottle, which will give you enough for this recipe.

Makes about 3 dozen.  


9 and 1/2 ounces semisweet chocolate
1/4 cup cocoa powder
1/4 cup confectioner's sugar (powdered sugar)
1 cup whipping cream (minus 3 tablespoons if powdering truffles instead of dipping)
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter (unsalted)
3 Tablespoons white granulated sugar
3 Tablespoons Grand Marnier
1 pound ice cubes

You will also need:

Double boiler (or a pot and a metal bowl that fits inside without tipping, must be at least large enough to hold 3-4 cups of liquid)
heavy-bottomed sauce pan
large bowl or pan (one that holds the pan or bowl used to melt the chocolate with a few inches to spare around the sides)
Cookie sheets
Parchment or wax paper

You may also want (but can do without):

Silicone heat-proof spatula
Pastry bag with large tip

  1. Measure out Grand Marnier into a small cup and set it within reach (but not where you'll tip it over).
  2. Fill the bottom of the large bowl with ice and add several inches of water.  
  3. Cover cookie sheets with wax or parchment paper and make room for them in the refrigerator.
  4. Break chocolate into chunks, either as pre-scored by manufacturer or approx 1/2" to 1" pieces. 
  5. Fill the bottom of the double boiler or sauce pan so that the top rests at least 2" into the water, or the bowl floats

Place chocolate pieces in top half of the double-boiler 

Bring water beneath to a boil then reduce to low heat so that it barely simmers.  Stir the chocolate occasionally until it is melted smooth.

In the meantime, bring cream, sugar and butter to a boil over medium heat, stirring slowly but constantly.  Use a flat edge wooden spoon or silicone spatula to scrape bottom and keep it from scorching. 

Once the cream is boiling and the chocolate is melted and smooth, whisk the cream into it until combined.

Add the Grand Marnier and stir it in.

Place the bowl with the mixture into the pan of ice water and whisk lightly until the mixture thickens.  Do not use an electric beater, and don't beat hard as if you're trying to make meringue.  You should get a medium, steady rhythm going because you could be whisking for a while.  Go until the mixture holds its shape, as if whipped cream.  Replace the ice in the bowl beneath if it melts.

When the mixture is fairly stiff and cool, use either the pastry bag or a teaspoon to drop bite-size dollops onto the wax paper.  They don't have to be spaced out very far as they will not expand. 

Cool in the refrigerator until they are set up (could take an hour or two, but you could leave them overnight at this stage).

When they are set, mix the cocoa powder and powdered sugar in a quart size ziplock bag.

Drop a few truffles at a time into the bag and shake gently to coat with the cocoa and sugar.  Remove to a separate bowl or tupperware.

When the truffles are all coated, store in fridge or freezer, sealed. 

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