15 October 2007

Chocolate Truffles

This is my first attempt at truffles. Now, I'd like to preface this by saying that I am a regular baker, and I make several kinds of candy around Christmastime, so I have a bit of experience making treats. I may not be the most experienced or gifted baker/candymaker, but I can hold my own. And this was the most frustrating recipe I've ever tried. I am hoping I just had a bad night, and it's not that my candymaking skills are lost.

I wanted to start with a good instructive recipe, and found one with tons of accolades on the Food Network web site. I set to work, and everything was going fine until it was time to create the truffles.

I chilled my filling for over 2 hours, and yet every time I would try to roll a ball, the mixture would melt all over the place and never form into balls (just slide around all lumpy in the thick melted mixture coating my hands). So I formed a method of partially rolling, then chilling another 20 minutes, then roll some more, then chill again, on and on. Took forever, and they were still quite lumpy! Then, the tempered dipping chocolate: it was SO THICK at 92 degrees, that trying to coat the (already melty) truffles was impossible. I tried one, it was a complete mess, and then I gave up. Just coated my truffles in raw sugar or cocoa, and was finished with the whole mess. I give up.

They still tasted terrific though. I used amaretto instead of brandy, and they turned out great: very rich, slightly bitter, dark dark dark chocolate taste with a hint of amaretto. I'm sure the problems with this recipe was user error, as all the reviews for this recipe on the Food Network site said things went perfectly for other users, so yeah. Give it a try, I'm sure it will work just fine. I would like to think I just had an 'off' night of candymaking.

Chocolate Truffles (courtesy of Alton Brown, Good Eats)

10 oz. bittersweet chocolate, chopped fine
3 Tbsp. unsalted butter
1/2 c. heavy cream
1 Tbsp. light corn syrup
1/4 c. brandy
8 oz. semisweet or bittersweet chocolate, chopped fine
1/2 c. Dutch process cocoa powder, finely chopped nuts, and/or toasted coconut, for coating truffles

Place the bittersweet chocolate and butter in a medium-size glass mixing bowl. Microwave for 30 seconds. Remove and stir, and repeat this process 1 more time. Set aside.

Heat the heavy cream and corn syrup in a small saucepan over medium heat until simmering. Remove from the heat and pour the mixture over the melted chocolate mixture; let stand for 2 minutes. Using a rubber spatula, stir gently, starting in the middle of bowl and working in concentric circles until all chocolate is melted and mixture is smooth and creamy. Gently stir in the brandy. Pour the mixture into an 8 by 8-inch glass baking dish and place in the refrigerator for 1 hour.

Using a melon baller, scoop chocolate onto a sheet pan lined with parchment paper and return to the refrigerator for 30 minutes.

Place the cocoa powder, nuts, and/or toasted coconut each in its own pie pan and set aside.
In the meantime, place the 8 ounces of chocolate into a medium mixing bowl which is sitting on top of a heating pad lined bowl, with the heating pad set to medium. Depending on the heating pad, you may need to adjust the heat up or down. Stirring the chocolate occasionally, test the temperature of the chocolate and continue heating until it reaches 90 to 92 degrees F; do not allow the chocolate to go above 94 degrees F. If you do, the coating will not have a nice snap to it when you bite into the chocolate. Once you have reached the optimal temperature, adjust the heat to maintain it.

Remove the truffles from the refrigerator and shape into balls by rolling between the palms of your hands. Use powder-free vinyl or latex gloves, if desired.

Dip an ice cream scoop into the chocolate and turn upside down to remove excess chocolate. Place truffles 1 at time into the scoop and roll around until coated. Then place the truffle into the dish with either the cocoa powder, nuts or coconut. Move the truffle around to coat; leave truffle in the coating for 10 to 15 seconds before removing. In the meantime, continue placing the chocolate-coated truffles in the cocoa or other secondary coating. After 10 to 15 seconds, remove the truffle to a parchment lined sheet pan. Repeat until all truffles are coated. Allow to set in a cool dry place for at least 1 hour; or store in an airtight container in the refrigerator.

Truffles are best when served at room temperature.

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