After reading aloud my last post, realizing my harsh negative tone and criticisms, I thought this to be a perfect opportunity to clear a few things up and highlight some of the positive parts of my trip to Mt. St. Helens. I wouldn't want you thinking that the trip was all bad, or even worse, that I was cantankerous, moody, or difficult. I knew that I should have waited a few more days to write the post, or just until my feet had healed, and the thought of tuna pitas was out of my head. The trip was extremely strenuous, that I liked. The scenery was outstanding, barren dessert, giant lava rocks that you could pick up and throw over your head without even breaking a sweat. Rocks that crinkled like broken glass. Gullies, ditches, and tiny new growth trees. As we made out way around the mountain, a continuous flow of smoke spilled out of the top, a bit terrifying to say the least. Every time a helicopter flew by, I was convinced that the volcano was ready to blow - crazy exciting. The last day of our trek, we entered the blast zone. The area in which the volcano erupted and blew its molten lava across the forest, wiping out everything in its path. Newly formed life has started to grow, and it is breathtaking. Wondrous how mother nature can heal and regenerate, glorious and powerful. I got to spend with some truly fine people, and the best part was the challenge. I did it, and that makes me proud.
I felt the same sense of accomplishment when I made these truffles. On my giant I-need-to-make list, I've finally knocked this one off. Do you ever get in the mood for chocolate, the mood that takes over your feelings and thoughts? Barely being able to concentrate on tasks, until you have nipped it in the bud. Well, this is my story. Absolutely crazy for chocolate, last week I found myself unable to satisfy my cravings. I tried cake and cupcakes, bars and squares. Nothing seemed to do the trick. It was a long and calorie dense week, until I made these luxurious truffles. Finally, my craving under control, and I now have my life back. And for you, I have a recipe for something that will make a best friend out of any enemy. So if it's revenge you seek, don't get even, get chocolate. Is it just me, or do truffles seem extremely expensive? I wanted to see what all the fuss was about, and if I could create something just as tasty without hurting the bank. For this recipe you will need some good quality chocolate, cream, and butter. Also, any toppings you desire, nuts, cocoa powder, coconut. I didn't want things to get out of control on my first attempt, so I stayed basic. Straight up chocolate. I was very surprised when I bit into the soft center, and they tasted like a somewhat classier version of Lindor Truffles. The extra classiness comes from the darker chocolate. They are rich and creamy. The flavor is intense and wonderful. I found a great tutorial (the link is provided below), that gave me some valuable suggestions and tips. It was a fairly easy process and a lot of fun. I highly recommend trying this at home, maybe for some tasty Christmas gifts or Thanksgiving dessert. I have definitely impressed a few people with this recipe, regardless of the fact that my truffes looked less like round perfect balls and more like blobs.
CHOCOLATE TRUFFLE RECIPE
makes 15 truffles
notes: this recipe makes 15 truffles. You can double it if you want to create a larger batch. I prefer plain chocolate coated truffles, but you can experiment with other toppings. Some people enjoy them dusted with cocoa powder, topped with nuts or coconut. You can also substitute the Grand Marnier for another liqueur, fruit syrup, or orange peel.
2 oz bittersweet chocolate 60%
4 oz semi-sweet chocolate
1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
4 tbsp butter, room temperature
2 tbsp Grand Marnier
1 cup bittersweet 60% chips
With a very sharp knife, chop the 2 oz bittersweet and 4 oz semi-sweet finely. Set to the side.
Place the butter into a small bowl, and with a spatula, press the butter until it is smooth and soft. Set to the side.
In a small saucepan, pour the 1/2 cup cream. On low-medium heat, heat the cream until tiny bubbles start to form. Swirl the pot occasionally, to disperse the thin layer that has formed on top of the cream.
Place the chopped chocolate into a small stainless steel bowl. Stainless steel is a good heat conductor, therefore works well, but if you don't have one, glass or ceramic will work fine. In order to create a smooth creamy ganache, you need the fat droplets from the chocolate and cream to become emulsified (evenly dispersed in liquid). To achieve this effect, pour the hot cream into the center of the chocolate. With a wooden spoon, start stirring rapidly in the center of the bowl. Tiny circles. Once the chocolate in the center starts to become dark and melted, start making your circles bigger, incorporating more of the chocolate. Once all of the chocolate has melted, set to the side a bring to room temperature. Be careful at this stage, temperature extremes can ruin the emulsion.
Once the chocolate is at room temperature, mash the butter into the chocolate with a wooden spoon, until it is evenly combined. The ganache should now look like thick frosting. Stir in the Grand Marnier, drop by drop, until it is evenly dispersed.
Using a piping bag or freezer bag, cut the tip off 1/2 inch. Place the ganache into the bag, and pipe tiny spheres (it's ok if they look more like blobs) onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. You should be able to pipe between 12 - 15 truffles. Place into the fridge to chill for 10 minutes, or until the truffles can be rolled in your hands and form a shape.
Remove the truffles from the fridge and roll into small balls with your hands. This is where things get messy. If the chocolate melts to quickly in your hands, chill them for longer, or chill your hands in an ice bath, and then make sure you have dried them completely. It may also help to wear plastic gloves. Place the truffles back in the fridge for one hour. If you are not ready to decorate, the chocolate ganache centers can be stored in the fridge covered for one week.
At this point you can decorate your truffles as you like. In a double boiler or poor-mans double boiler (pot with water and a bowl on top). Place the chocolate chips into a small bowl (one the will fit on top of the pot with the bottom slightly immersed in water). Turn the burner to medium, and slowly bring up the temperature of the water. You do not want it to boil. You basically want the bowl to become warm. If it gets too warm, the chocolate will heat to high and then become a solid. Alternate between having the bowl on the pot with water, and the counter. Stir continuously with a wooden spoon. Once the chocolate has become a thin liquid, it is ready.
Remove the ganache balls from the fridge. Dip them into the chocolate, one by one, and then remove with a toothpick. Tap any excess chocolate off. Place onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. At this point, you can sprinkle them with chopped nuts, coconut, or cocoa powder. The chocolate coating will dry quickly, so work fast.
Store the truffles in an airtight container in the fridge.