Nobody knows the truffles we’ve seen…: Deluxe Chocolate Truffles

OK, folks, let’s try a simple Miller’s analogy:
Christmas is to peppermint as Easter is to
A. Ham
B. Hardboiled eggs
C. Peeps
D. Chocolate

If you guessed Peeps, you were close. Peeps, those fluorescent yellow and pink (and now, lavender and blue and green) marshmallow chicks and bunnies have been a hallmark of the Easter season for over 50 years. So, Christmas is to candy canes as Easter is to Peeps. But Christmas is to peppermint as Easter is to… chocolate. Of course.

After Valentine’s Day, Easter is the holiday most associated with chocolate (Halloween and its trick-or-treat candy bars notwithstanding). Chocolate bunnies (hollow or over-the-top solid), foil-wrapped chocolate eggs, Cadbury Cream Eggs, chocolate-covered marshmallow eggs… they’ve already appeared in profusion in our local CVS store, with Easter just 2 1/2 weeks away. While Peeps have their proponents, chocolate is the basis for MY favorite Easter basket.

Still, who wants to buy all the candy at CVS? I mean, how special is that? Yeah, it’s cheaper than going to a chocolate shop, but there has to be some middle ground between $3 apiece chocolate truffles and 3/$1 cream-filled chocolate mini-chicks. And that middle ground is homemade truffles.

What, me? Make filled candies? Yes, you can easily make truffles. They can be as simple as three ingredients—chocolate, cream, and cocoa. Or they can include many more ingredients (chopped nuts, hazelnut flavor, Kahlua, candied cherries, toffee bars…), but still follow a simple process. Trust me; you can do this.

Want to make your own Deluxe Chocolate Truffles? Follow these steps to make 3 dozen truffles, enough for several Easter baskets.

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First, let’s make the truffle centers. Heat the heavy cream and chocolate till the cream is very hot; you’ll see tiny bubbles beginning to form.

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Stir with a spatula. At first you’ll think, no way is this mess going together.

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But then, magically, the chocolate starts to absorb the cream.

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And before you know it, shazam! Beautifully smooth chocolate ganache, a.k.a. that which truffle centers are made of.

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Pour the ganache into a parchment- or waxed paper-lined 9” x 13” pan. Don’t spread it out; just let it sit there. Put the pan in the fridge for 60 to 90 minutes, till the chocolate is cold and “scoopable.”

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Meanwhile, sprinkle another parchment- or waxed paper-lined pan with cocoa powder. I love our own secret blend of Dutch and black cocoas, Double Dutch Dark Cocoa; its flavor is wonderfully smooth. Use unsweetened baking cocoa if you want; but be aware the flavor of the truffles will be more biting, as unsweetened baking cocoa is higher in acid than Dutch-process. Also, notice what I used to sprinkle the cocoa: a tea strainer, my favorite all-purpose cocoa-, flour-, and confectioners’ sugar-sprinkling tool. Make this layer of cocoa very thin; you’re using it simply so the truffle centers don’t stick to the parchment. At this point, the cocoa shouldn’t coat the ganache centers at all.

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Scoop the cooled ganache into rough balls. A teaspoon cookie scoop works perfectly here. Or use a melon baller, or a couple of spoons, all of which will be much stickier to work with. But do-able.

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As you scoop the balls of ganache, drop them onto the cocoa-sprinkled paper in the pan.

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Use it all up. Don’t leave any ganache in the pan (unless you plan on scraping the last little bits right into your mouth!)

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So now you have a panful of chocolate ganache balls. These are your truffle centers. Refrigerate for 30 to 60 minutes, so they’re easier to handle. When they’re chilled and stiff, first brush off any excess cocoa, then roll them between your palms to make nice, smooth balls. Yes, your palms will quickly become chocolate-covered. Wash your hands when they get too sticky to handle the ganache balls easily. As you roll, any of the cocoa from the parchment that’s stuck to the centers will become incorporated.

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If you want the truffles’ final coat to be a simple layer of cocoa (not melted chocolate), put cocoa in a shallow pan, drop in the truffle centers…

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…and gently shake to cover the centers with cocoa.

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Now, if instead of coating your truffles with cocoa you want to coat them with melted chocolate and garnish them, here’s what to do. Melt 2 cups of chopped chocolate (or chocolate chips) in a microwave-safe bowl till the chips start to droop from the heat. If you can’t tell if they’re ready, give ’em a stir; if they quickly and easily melt, keep stirring till the mixture is smooth. If they don’t melt completely, reheat briefly.

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When the melted chocolate is smooth, stir in an additional 2/3 cup unmelted chocolate.

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Stir till smooth again. Melting the chocolate in stages like this keeps it from becoming too hot and potentially scorching. This is also a technique for tempering chocolate, e.g., heating it gently to a certain point so that it remains shiny as it cools. That’s not exactly what you’re doing here, since tempering chocolate takes a candy thermometer, a fine hand, some knowledge of technique, and more time than I was willing to spend, considering I planned on covering these truffles with various garnishes, anyway.

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Next, you’re going to dip the truffle centers in the melted chocolate. Remember, this is only if you haven’t chosen to just simply coat them with cocoa. I tried fashioning a chocolate dipping tool out of a plastic fork, but it didn’t actually work very well. I ended up just using my fingers. A messy (but ultimately delicious) process.

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Dip each truffle center in the melted chocolate, letting the excess run off. The chocolate won’t be really runny; don’t expect it to drip off on its own. You’ll actually have to shake off the excess. Reheat VERY briefly if it thickens too much as you work.

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Immediately place the truffles on parchment or waxed paper, and sprinkle with the garnishes of your choice. I used chopped pistachios, nonpareils, sugar decorations, and cocoa nibs (not shown). Let them harden at room temperature, or in the fridge. This will take anywhere from 30 minutes to several hours.
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And there you have it: lovely homemade truffles. I’ve broken open the one on the right to show you the beautifully creamy ganache center.

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P.S. I decided to make an indulgent version of cherry cordials, those soft-centered, cherry-filled chocolates you can buy at the store. I took a dozen candied cherries (candied, not maraschino), and rolled each in one of the truffle centers till it was completely enclosed with chocolate. Then I finished by coating the truffles.

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And here’s the very tasty result. If you’re a fan of those sometimes lackluster boxed cherry cordials, you’ll love these!

PJ Hamel
About

PJ Hamel was born in Wisconsin, grew up in New England, and graduated from Brown University. She was a journalist in Massachusetts and Maine before joining the King Arthur Flour Company in 1990, where she's been ever since. Author or co-author of three King Arthur ...

comments

  1. Linda Van Kirk

    I made these truffles today and gave them out to my clients as treats. They loved them and they were fun to make. And yes, they were messy! :-)

    Making the centers via the microwave worked just fine. But melting the chocolate for the coating using the microwave did not – even though I was very careful in not overheating the chocolate it still “froze up” … twice.

    So I made the remaining coatings using my tried and true method with the double broiler and adding just a bit of butter and cream.

    BTW – I love your Baker’s Banter and the use of pictures!

    Thank you for allowing me to comment.

    Reply
  2. PJ Hamel , post author

    Linda, I think you’re right going to the double boiler – microwaves differ a lot in how hot/how fast they cook. I always say, use what works for YOU in YOUR kitchen. Also, adding the butter and cream helps ensure that it won’t seize; good idea. Thanks for sharing – and for taking the time to comment.

    Reply
  3. Catherine Evans

    Easter came early this year, but with truffles there is no season! Great instructions that we should save for any time the spirit moves us.

    Two suggestions regarding the centers. Use a plastic flexible spatula to get up as much of the filling as possible. Then put the parchment or waxed paper into the freezer for a bit until the chocolate breaks away. Crumbs for the cook!

    And if your chocolate “seizes,” reheat just a bit and stir vigorously, reheat and stir again. With patience and repeated stirring the chocolate usually will reconstitute.

    Thanks for the reminder that truffles are fun and easy!

    Reply
  4. Gwen

    I made these for my family and boyfriend today, and everyone LOVED them!! I made the centers and then covered them in melted chocolate, and then set out little bowls of sprinkles, coconut, and since I don’t know what’s inside butterfingers, I bought a few, scraped off the chocolate, mashed up the insides, and that was the favorite! Thanks so much for this, it was so fun to make.

    Reply
  5. Katherine Isham

    D:

    WOW THESE WERE HARD.

    The main trouble was the ganache centers (I made them raspberry) were not… cooperative at the dunking stage. Problem was, the chocolate was so, well, hot that the ganache’s spherical integrity was *immediately* compromised when it contacted the melted chocolate. Eventually, I just took spoonfulls of chocolate and dumped them on top of the ganache balls. it worked, although they are the spherical balls of presentation loveliness they are in the baker banter’s blog. :-( any tips for next time?

    Katherine, try chilling the balls of ganache before dipping in the melted chocolate. That should do the trick. Hope they were delivious, if not quite as lovely as you’d hoped… PJH

    Reply
  6. Katherine

    (Did my last comment saying I did in fact chill the ganache go through…? not sure. Would it destroy the ganache to put it in the freezer?) And yes, they were in fact delicious. :3 (thank goodness!)

    Hmmm… no you didn’t mention chilling. But putting in the freezer would be fine – give that a try for sure, Katherine. PJH

    Reply
  7. jackiebozeman14599

    So I tried them this weekend and ended up with delicious chocolate sauce. It never hardened. I left it in the fridge for over 6 hours, and it still poured out of my round cake pan. How, I had a choice of whipping cream and heave whipping cream. Being cheap, I chose the whipping cream–could that have been my problem. Also, I stopped the heating as the bubbles were just starting to show on the boiling. Should it have been a hard boil, or just a soft boil? Any suggestions?

    Yes, For a truffle ganache to set up, there is a balance between the amount of chocolate and the fat percentage in the cream. Whipping Cream is too low in fat for this amount of chocolate. The cream needs to come to a boil. There needs to be action in the pot, not just bubbles. As soon as the cream boils it comes off the heat. Frank @ KAF.

    Reply
  8. churtenb

    This morning before leaving for work I mixed a batch of ganache
    to be ready to roll this evening. This is the second time I have tried this, first time worked like a charm. This time, however after mixing the bittersweet chocolate and heavy cream and letting it sit there was separation occurring and a watery layer forming on top. I had to leave so stuck it in the fridge. Any idea why this happened, and what I will find when I return to it later?
    It sounds like your cream may have been too hot when you poured it over the chocolate, making the chocolate separate. It will probably look the same when you get home. The fastest way to fix it will be to melt the ganache down and stir in a little warm cream. Or give us a call on the Baker’s Hotline and we’ll be able to walk you through it! ~Mel

    Reply
  9. churtenb

    After mixing the gananche, upon letting it sit it started separating and developing a watery layer on top. I had to leave for work so stuck it in the fridge. I used heavy whipping cream and Callebeault (sp?) bittersweet chocolate.
    It’s only the second time I have tried this, the first time worked like a charm, only difference was different brand of chocolate.
    Why did it do this, and will it be usable?
    Please give us a call on the Baker’s Hotline and we’ll be happy to help! ~Mel

    Reply

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