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Saturday, Oct 25, 2014
South Shore News

Kessel: Homemade truffles make for special Valentine’s Day


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If you plan to make your love anything for Valentine’s Day, I say go for where it counts – the sweet tooth. Actually a piece of anything chocolate puts a smile on my face, but I never fell as hard as I did when I bit into my first luscious truffle. I was in heaven as the brittle shell split open with a satisfying crack, revealing its melted, smooth ganache filling. Concentrated into one bite, a wave of deep bittersweet chocolate washed over me.

Like an intense but fleeting romance, the memory of that bite-sized chocolate confection has lingered. Over the years I’ve made my own periodically but it had been a while since the last batch.

Preparing for this column, I managed to crank out a tray in no time during a recent truffle-making morning.

I’d forgotten how easy they are to make. With a little help I think even my 3-year old granddaughter Lila could probably roll out these luxurious and delicious little balls of chocolate.

Truffles are made in two steps: first you make the ganache centers, and then you can dip those centers into melted, tempered chocolate.

But if the thought of tempering chocolate keeps you up at night, I’ve found the simplest way to finish truffles is to roll them in a dry coating such as cocoa powder, finely chopped toasted nuts, powdered sugar, shaved chocolate or coconut, or crushed cookie crumbs. You could even incorporate exotic spices.

Truffles are named after the earthy, dirt-covered fungus they resemble. To make a terrific chocolate one, you have to start with terrific chocolate.

How can you tell the difference? My favorite way is simply to taste it, but if that’s not possible check the label for the percentage of cocoa solids. More cocoa solids usually translates into more intense chocolate flavor and less sweetness. I use chocolate with at least 60 percent.

If you’ve ever cooked with chocolate, then you know the golden rule. Chocolate doesn’t like water. A few drops of water that accidently splash into the bowl of melted chocolate can cause the chocolate to seize – or clump up – and become unworkable. To avoid this, start with a super-dry work surface, use dry utensils and have a towel handy.

The ones I devised are spiked with orange liqueur. I have, however, been known to spike them with some bourbon, cognac or even finely chopped fresh red chili from time to time.

Sometimes I wait to roll my truffles in the coating until right before serving, but if you decide to do yours right after rolling, they may need to be re-rolled in additional powder just before serving.

Homemade chocolate truffles cost a fraction of the price of store-bought. If I haven’t already convinced you to make an edible Valentine gift this year, maybe this recipe today will seal the deal.

Lynn Kessel is a freelance food columnist. For more of her recipes, visit southshore.tbo.com and enter the search words Lynn Kessel.

Orange Liqueur Chocolate Truffles

8 ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped

2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened

1 cup heavy cream

2 tablespoons Grand Marnier or your favorite orange liqueur

Cocoa powder for dusting

Place the bittersweet chocolate and butter in a heatproof bowl. Bring the cream to a boil and pour over the chocolate and butter. Tap the bowl on the work surface to settle the chocolate into the cream, then let the mixture sit for 1 minute.

Using a rubber spatula, stir slowly in a circular motion starting from the center of the bowl and working out to the sides. Be careful not to add too much air to the ganache. Stir until the chocolate has completely melted, about 2 minutes.

Add the Grand Marnier and stir to combine. Allow the ganache to cool until it’s firm, about 2 hours in the refrigerator.

Working with a quarter of the chocolate at a time (keep the remaining mixture in the refrigerator), roll rounded teaspoons of the mixture into balls and place them on a parchment-lined tray. Refrigerate the truffles until firm and roll them in sifted cocoa before serving.

Lynn Kessel is a freelance food columnist. For more of her recipes, visit southshore.tbo.com and enter the search words Lynn Kessel.

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