It all started with me wandering into my kitchen last evening. I went through my fridge and cabinets, trying to think of a new combination of flavours that I’d never tried in a truffle before. All sorts of ingredients caught my attention, but my eyes kept returning to the block of cream cheese in my fridge. As I wrote in Sunday’s post about dark chocolate cream cheese truffles, I absolutely love the flavour of cream cheese. So I decided to stick with cream cheese, and see if I couldn’t come up with a slightly better version of Sunday’s recipe.
Sunday’s truffles were cream cheese truffles through and through; not only did they have cream cheese centers, the truffles themselves were made with cream cheese. While I liked Sunday’s truffles, what I found was that the texture of the truffle changes when you use cream cheese instead of heavy/whipping cream (this is what is used in traditional truffles); the texture isn’t as velvety and creamy. Generally speaking, this is an acceptable compromise to me because I love the flavour of cream cheese. But Sunday’s experiment taught me that if you’re willing to go to the extra trouble of making cream cheese centers, you don’t need to make this compromise at all! In fact, I thought that the cream cheese in the chocolate didn’t add much in terms of flavour, it was upstaged by the intense flavour of the dark chocolate and by the cream cheese in the center. I could reduce the amount of chocolate I added, but I wanted to make dark chocolate truffles, not milk chocolate ones.
Therefore, for today’s project, I decided to use a traditional dark chocolate ganache (made with cream) to make the truffles, and then incorporate the cream cheese flavour I love so much by making cream cheese centers for them. But that wasn’t all, I added a twist or two to the recipe. You see, I wanted to play around a little with the flavours in my kitchen; it would have been boring to simply recreate, with a small modification, Sundays recipe.
First, I wanted a citrus flavour to the cream cheese, so I added some orange liqueur (Cointreau). Second, I thought it might be fun to coat the truffles with something I’ve never tried before, large brown sugar crystals. But since they’re sweet, I decided to make the chocolate a bit bitter. So I replaced some of the dark chocolate in the ganache recipe with unsweetened chocolate. Here’s what I ended up with:
And boy am I glad I played instead of sticking to what I know. The truffles were just right in terms of texture and flavour! They were creamy and squishy and the cream cheese centers were gooey, soft, and a little orang-ey. To top it all, the sugar-coating was literally the sugar-coating, it balanced the bitterness of the chocolate perfectly. Here is a shot of half a truffle after I’d bitten into it. I think it illustrates the squishiness and softness I am talking about:
The flavours danced together on my tongue with just enough complexity to be intriguing; they acted in perfect concert, I had to close my eyes and savour it. I haven’t felt this excited since I discovered chocolate brazil nut butter.
If you’ve been sold by my mad ravings or these pictures, go ahead and give it a go! The only tough part of the process is actually shaping the truffles with the cream cheese centers. This can be a little messy and it requires patience.
Update: Another important thing to note is that the sugar-coating absorbs moisture. So the outside of the truffle can get wet and sticky over a day or two. The solution that I have found for this problem is to roll the truffles in brown-sugar right before (or even a few hours before) serving them.
Ingredients for the Truffles:
2.5 ounces dark chocolate (at least 70% cocoa solids)
1 ounce unsweetened chocolate
1/2 cup heavy/whipping cream
A small dollop of butter
A pinch of salt
Brown sugar to coat the truffles
Ingredients for the Cream Cheese Centers:
50 g cream cheese (at room temperature)
A dollop of butter
2-4 tablespoons of icing sugar
2-3 teaspoons of Cointreau or Grand Marnier
Chop up the chocolate into small pieces (you could also process it in a food processor) and place it in a bowl. It’s important to chop up the chocolate into little bits so that it melts evenly when you pour the cream over it. It should look like this:
Let the mixture stand for a few minutes. Then very gently mix the chocolate and cream:
Add the butter and salt and mix until you have a smooth ganache:
Cover the bowl and let the ganache cool to room temperature, then place it in the fridge.
While the ganache hardens, let’s make the cream cheese filling. Take another bowl, put the cream cheese in it and whip it up with a mixer, until it’s smooth.
Taste the mixture. If you think it needs more sugar or Cointreau add some more. When it tastes right, cover the bowl and put it in the fridge.
Once the ganache has been in the fridge for about an hour, take it out and see if it’s firmed up. It should be firm but not hard. If it’s firm take it out along with the cream cheese filling. You will also need a bowl with a few tablespoons of brown sugar in it and a large plate covered with foil or butter paper. Now you’re ready to begin shaping the truffles.
Portion out the ganache onto the foil or butter paper, with each portion measuring about a tablespoon. When you’ve scooped out the lot take the first portion and shape it into a ball. Then, flatten it on your hand like a mini-tortilla or chapathi:
For the final step, start with one of the first few truffles you shaped. (When you work with the truffles they will get a little melted and squishy from your body heat. This is why i suggest picking up one of the first few truffles you worked on; by now it will have cooled down and firmed up again.) Gently roll it about in your hand to make the surface a little sticky. Roll the truffle in the bowl of brown sugar so that it is completely coated.
Repeat until all the truffles are coated. And there you’re all done! Enjoy your delicious truffles, I know I did 😉