Well! ‘Tis the holiday season and those who know me well, know that it’s about the time I start making holiday treats for friends and family. I did not feel like making cookies this year – so done! And I did not feel like making my usual rum balls. Naah! Truffles! I thought. Let’s make some truffles.
Truffles sound really tough and complicated to most people but they are actually quite simple. The best part is that, when it comes to the question of what kind you would like to make – the possibilities are endless.
I always start with my very basic recipe using 12 oz of semi-sweet chocolate chips. (I prefer the Ghiradelli brand because it is so easy to find. I like them to be semi-sweet to make my life easier and not have to deal incorporating sugar into my recipes.)
To the chocolate chips, I add about ½ cup of boiling heavy cream, 1 tsp of vanilla extract and 1 tbsp of softened unsalted butter cut into small squares. My truffles tend to be on the soft side, because that’s how I like them. You can control the consistency by controlling how much cream you put in it.
Mix the combination well until all the chocolate and butter is melted, and what you have is a basic truffle recipe. If the mixture does not melt completely, finish the job on a double boiler.
After everything is melted and well blended, put the mixture into the refrigerator, until it solidifies enough to make truffle balls. Roll the balls in cocoa powder and Voila!
Today, I made 3 kinds of truffles using the above recipe: Orange, Hazelnut and Chile-Irish Cream. Following is how the variations were done.
For the orange truffles, I added 2 tbsps of Grand Mariner liquor and instead of vanilla extract I used orange blossom extract (I picked it up from Fresh Market in Westport)
For the Chile-Irish Cream, I added 2 tbsps of Baileys Irish cream and cayenne pepper (about 1/8 tsp or to taste). I like how the smoothness of Bailey’s Irish cream balances the kick of the cayenne pepper. Trust me, it will create quite a party in your mouth.
For the Hazelnut flavor, I added 2 tbsps of hazelnut liquor. As a special surprise, for the center of these truffles, I roasted whole, shelled, hazelnuts in the oven for 20 minutes at 300 degrees. Once done, I wrapped them in a clean kitchen towel and rubbed them well to get the skin off the nuts. Hazelnut liquor is a bit mild in flavor so to add yet another layer of hazel-nutty flavor, I decided to roll these truffles in a hazelnut flavored hot chocolate mix powder instead of cocoa powder. Ghiradelli makes a great tasting one. You must try it.
Note: For a slight variation in appearance and taste, you can melt semi-sweet chocolate chips, and dip your truffle balls (without the step of rolling them in cocoa powder) into the melted chocolate, then set it on parchment paper and in the fridge to set. This will create a smooth glossy finish on the truffles. If the balls are too soft, freeze them for an hour or two before dipping them in melted chocolate.
Hope you try these recipes and devise some of your own flavor combinations. I would love to hear how it went. Do be sure to post your preferences and experiences.