This was probably my most ambitious holiday treat experiment this year. I love chocolate truffles. Who doesn’t, right? While I like the kind that are dusted in cocoa powder, I really prefer those that are dipped in a shell of chocolate. I figured if I was going to try to make truffles at all, I better go all out and try coating them in a chocolate shell. Even though it’s the holiday season and I barely have enough time to brush my teeth every day, I can spend a few hours playing with chocolate, right?
Use Real Butter is one of my favorite food blogs to browse, and it’s great inspiration for everyday cooking. I am also especially inspired by her talent with desserts, so I decided to follow her guidelines for these truffles. She recommends tempering the chocolate that is used for the outer shell. Tempering is necessary in order to get a nice, shiny finish on the shell rather than a dull, streaky finish. I had never worked with tempered chocolate before, so it was definitely an challenge. It was definitely tedious, and while all of my truffles were beautifully shiny immediately after making them, I think I ruined all of my hard work by leaving them ut for too long. Now they’re all marbled and streaky and no longer shiny. Let one thing be clear, though: they taste AMAZING!
It was fun to take on a new challenge, and even though they didn’t come out looking exactly as I would have wanted them to, they won’t be around for long enough for me to care about it! Now, what to do with 60 truffles? I mean, 58 truffles. I have a few ideas…
Source: Inspired by Use Real Butter
1 pound good quality dark chocolate (2 pounds if dipping in outer shell – I used Callebaut for the ganache, and Ghirardelli for the outer shell)
1 cup heavy cream
2-4 tbsps Grand Marnier (optional, to taste)
Fine chop the chocolate and place in a medium bowl. Heat the cream until it begins to boil. Remove from heat and pour the cream over the chocolate. Let sit for a minute (make sure all chocolate is covered by the cream). Stir the chocolate and cream together until velvety and smooth. Stir in Grand Marnier. Let the ganache cool until solid. (Be sure to let it cool at room temperature instead of just sticking it in the refrigerator. Otherwise, the ganache will cool unevenly and be too hard to work with. This took several hours for me.) Scoop out teaspoon-size balls of ganache and roll into balls.
At this point, you can roll them in cocoa powder, powdered sugar, nuts, crushed candy, etc. if desired.
To coat them in a shell of chocolate:
Chop up another pound of good quality dark chocolate. Set a few pieces aside and melt the rest in a double-boiler over a simmering water bath. Keep an instant-read thermometer submerged in the melted chocolate and remove the bowl from the water bath immediately after the temperature reaches 118° F. Be careful not to let ANY water touch your chocolate or it will ruin the tempering process. Stir the chocolate gently with a spatula off of the heat until the temperature reaches 95°. Once the temperature has reduced to 95°, add the few pieces of chocolate that you reserved earlier to the bowl. This is called the seed method, and it’s important for controlling the crystal structure in the chocolate. I read more about this method here. Continue stirring the mixture constantly until the temperature reaches anywhere between 89° and 91°.
When the chocolate is in that range, you can begin to dip the ganache balls in it. It’s best for the ganache balls to be at room temperature when you dip them so that the outer shell doesn’t crack. You’ll need to work quickly and keep the thermometer in the chocolate to monitor its temperature. If the chocolate cools down below 89°, place it over the simmering water bath again to raise the temperature. Repeat until all of your truffles are coated. Allow to cool/dry, and store in an airtight container in a cool place.