This post is also about truffles. I thought I should just make that clear right at the start. If you’re tired of all my truffle-y posts, skip this one; my next one won’t be about truffles, or even chocolate. It’ll probably be about this delicious, spicy Hyderabadi-style fish I made yesterday; or it might be about a nice little Persian restaurant that I visited last week. Either way, it probably won’t be about chocolate.
Although, it just occurred to me that if you’re bored by chocolatey posts, you’re not really my key demographic, are you? (Really, what are you doing here if chocolate doesn’t make you ever-so-slightly unhinged?)
Anyway, this is a post about a great gift-idea: assorted chocolate truffles. This is usually an ideal little present because truffles are delicious (to most people), make people happy (quite literally (read my previous post for more on this)) and they’re very personal (you can custom-make flavours to suit your friends’ tastes). They’re also pretty easy to make, once you’ve gotten the hang of it.
The first step involves choosing flavours. You could choose from so many different kinds! Here are a few:
1. Dark Chocolate truffles (go here for my recipe)
2. Cointreau Dark Chocolate truffles (go here for my recipe)
3. Dark Chocolate Cream Cheese Truffles with Cream Cheese Centers (go here for my recipe)
4. Dark Chocolate Truffles with Orange-Cream Cheese Centers (go here for my recipe)
5. Dark Chocolate Truffles with Strawberry Cream Cheese Centers (go here for my recipe)
6. Dark Chocolate Hazelnut Truffles (recipe in this post)
7. Mint Chocolate Truffles (recipe in this post)
8. Dark Chocolate Truffles with Brazil-nut butter centers (recipe forthcoming)
I could go on and on, but I’ve got my whole life to invent truffle recipes. For now, I am going to stop thinking about truffle flavours and get on with this post.
Here’s what I chose for my first truffle-gift-experiment: Cointreau chocolate, mint chocolate and hazelnut. I chose these flavours because they’re really easy to make, easier than truffles with flavoured centers.
What you will need:
200g dark chocolate (At least 70% cocoa solids)
1 cup heavy/whipping cream
Two pinches of salt
About a teaspoon of mint essence
2 teaspoons Frangelico (or some other hazelnut liqueur)
1 teaspoon Cointreau or Grand Marnier
A handful of hazelnuts
2 tablespoons of cocoa powder
50g chocolate to dip the mint truffles in
3 sheets of parchment paper or foil
Coloured paper cups to place the truffles in
Chop up the chocolate with a knife and place it in a bowl:
You could also use a food processor. Next, warm up the cream until it just begins to boil and pour it over the chocolate:
Try and make sure that all the chocolate is covered. Let the bowl stand for a few minutes. Add the salt, take a whisk and gently mix the cream and chocolate. Now your ganache is ready.
Bring out two more bowls. Spoon about one-third of the ganache into one of these bowls and another third of the ganache into the other bowl. Now you have three portions of ganache in three separate bowls.
Mix in the mint essence in the first bowl, Frangelico in the second bowl and Cointreau (or Grand Marnier) in the third bowl. I would start by adding a little of each flavour and then adding more to taste. It is especially important to use the mint essence sparingly. For one thing, different brands of mint essence have varying levels of strength. Also, mint as a flavour very easily overpowers chocolate.
Let the ganache(s) cool to room temperature and then, place the bowls in the fridge.
In about an hour, check if the ganache has firmed up. If it has, take all three bowls out of the fridge. Place three sheets of foil or parchment paper on three separate plates. Take three post-its and write the names of the flavours of the truffles down, one flavour for each post-it. Now, stick a post-it underneath each plate. Next, scoop out tablespoon-sized portions of the mint flavoured ganache on the correspondingly labelled plate. Use an ice-cream scoop if you have one.
Repeat this with the other two flavoured ganaches. Place the plates in the fridge.
After about 20 minutes, take the plates out and begin to roll each scoop of ganache into as perfect a sphere as possible. Make sure not to confuse the different flavoured truffles; place all mint truffles on the plate labelled ‘mint’ and the Cointreau ones on the plate labelled ‘Cointreau’ and so on.
Once you’ve rolled all the ganache into balls, place all three plates back in the fridge for about 20 minutes.
Now comes the last step, coating the truffles.
For the hazelnuts truffles, I decided that the most appropriate coating was toasted and crushed hazelnuts. This is a simple enough coating to make. Just pop a handful of hazelnuts in the oven (preheated to 375 farenheit (that’s 180 celsius)) for about 10 minutes, tossing the nuts once during this time. Let them cool and then place them in a tea-towel and rub them against each other until they lose their skins. Then place them in a mortar and pestle and coarsely grind them. I suggested a mortar and pestle rather than a grinder because this way you can make sure you break up all the nuts without reducing most of the nuts to a powder.
And now for the final touch, just roll each hazelnut truffle about in your hand for a bit to make the outside of the truffle sticky and then roll it in the crushed hazelnuts. Lightly press the nuts in to make sure they stick to the truffle.
For the Cointreau truffles, I decided on a simple coating: cocoa powder. Just take a few tablespoons of cocoa powder in a bowl, warm the outside of each Cointreau truffle by rolling it about in your hand, and then lightly roll it in the bowl of cocoa until it is completely covered.
Lastly, I decided to dip the mint truffles in dark chocolate. This looks and sounds more difficult than it is, and it’s actually a lot of fun 🙂 It is also undoubtedly messy.
Carefully melt 50g dark chocolate (using either a double boiler or a microwave on a very low heat setting). Let the chocolate cool a bit (we don’t want to wait for it to harden, but we don’t want it to be too warm either).
Once the chocolate has cooled somewhat, take a truffle and dip it into the chocolate. Roll it about in the chocolate until it’s completely coated and then fish it out.
Place the truffle back on the foil/butter paper. Repeat this process with all the truffles. Once you’ve dipped all the truffles, take a toothpick and trace a circle around the bottom of each truffle. This is so that we don’t have a lot of excess chocolate stuck awkwardly to the bottom of the truffle once the outside chocolate has hardened.
Place each truffle in a paper cup. Preferably, use paper cups of different colours that compliment the truffle flavours. For instance, I used green for mint, orange for Cointreau and light brown for hazelnut. Let the truffles sit somewhere cool to cool. They should be ready in 20-30 minutes.
Since the idea was to make assorted truffles as a gift, I wanted to pack them in a nice box. I hunted all over my neighborhood for a cute gift box, but couldn’t find anything appropriate. I finally stumbled upon an arts and crafts store, and they were nice enough to cut some beautiful coloured paper for me so that I could make little bags out fo it:
I placed the truffles in these bags once they were ready and sowed on little message cards on the front that not only gave my friend my regards, but also described the different flavours of truffles included in the bag on the back.
Needless to say, my friend won’t mind taking care of my plants again 😉