There’s nothing wrong with those red heart boxes of candy from the drugstore, but they’re filled with just that—candy, which pales in comparison to the intoxicating power and intensity of real chocolate truffles.
If you have access to good-quality bittersweet chocolate, you can make your own truffles at home that will blow most anything from a store out of the water. A gift of nine or twelve in a small box makes a sweet gesture for your friends or sweetheart, but they’re also wonderful to covet for your own brief moment of bliss.
As for the chocolate: don’t use chocolate chips on these, even if they’re good ones. Chocolate chips are coated with a non-melting coating to help them keep their shape in cookies, and they won’t make your truffles as velvety and smooth as you want them to be.
Alice Medrich’s Truffles Au Cocolat
From Alice Medrich’s cookbook Bittersweet
Makes about 64 truffles
These very French truffles use butter and egg yolks instead of cream, yielding a silky texture. The high amount of butter in the ganache makes it difficult to roll it into balls with your hands (the ganache melts easily in warm hands), so I like to cut the truffles into squares and leave them that way.
1 pound bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, finely chopped
10 tablespoons (1-1/4 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
2 large egg yolks, at room temperature
½ cup boiling water or freshly brewed espresso
½ cup best-quality unsweetened cocoa powder (preferably not Dutch-process)
- Once you’ve chopped the chocolate finely, line the bottom and sides of an 8-inch square pan with parchment paper or foil, letting the ends of the paper extend out over the pan to create handles. Set aside.
- Place the butter in 1-quart saucepan and put over medium heat, swirling the pan from time to time so the butter melts evenly. You want to get it not just melted, but a little hot; just when you begin to hear little popping sounds, dump all of the chocolate in at once. Stir to coat the chocolate with the melted butter, remove the pan from heat, cover, and let rest for two or three minutes.
- Stir the butter-chocolate mixture again, placing the pan over low heat and stirring constantly if you still see small bits of chocolate that are not melted; do not let the chocolate burn. Set aside.
- Place the egg yolks in a small stainless steel bowl and stir in the boiling water or espresso. Place the bowl over the saucepan of simmering water and stir the egg mixture constantly, until the mixture reaches 160 degrees F on an instant-read thermometer. Immediately scrape into the melted chocolate and stir gently (do not whisk or beat) until completely blended and smooth. Pour the mixture through a fine-mesh sieve into the lined pan and spread evenly. Cover and chill until firm, at least 2 hours.
- Sift the cocoa into a medium bowl. Remove the truffle pan from the refrigerator and use the liner to transfer the truffle sheet to a cutting board. Allow to soften until you can cut the truffle sheet without it cracking, about 30 minutes. Invert the sheet and peel off the liner. Cut the truffles into 1-inch squares or smaller and toss them in the cocoa powder to coat.
- Store the truffles, tightly covered, in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks. Remove from refrigerator about 20 minutes before serving to allow them to soften slightly.
by Sara Bir