It's the end of the year around here, which means teacher gifts. Lots and lots of teacher gifts. The wee one are in two different schools. And there are all the specials teachers (music, art, gym, Spanish), in addition to the teachers and aides and office staff and oh yeah, bus drivers. Needless to say, that adds up quickly when contributing to the class gifts and finding cute little gifties or gift cards for everyone. I just don't have that kind of money to spend, but I want them all to know how much we appreciate them.
That's where getting "fancy" (but oh so easy) comes in handy. Introducing my "summer truffles" - which means I don't have to sit over my stove heating chocolate for it even. I love all the different types of flavors that you can make. For this batch, I did hazelnut (with umm hazelnut liqueur), but next time I'll do espresso or maybe my truffle salt or possibly cinnamon for a Mexican twist. How can you not like it?
Plus, few ingredients and easy techniques means I have some very grateful school staff over the next few days. I hope anyway - I just realized I didn't do a taste test. Hm.
14 oz good quality dark chocolate, divided
1/3 c heavy whipping cream
4 T butter, divided
1 T liquid flavoring like vanilla or hazelnut or coffee
OR 1 t dry flavoring like sea or truffle salt or cinnamon
Place 9 oz of the chopped chocolate in to bowl, along with 3 T of the butter and the cream.
If it's Chicago and super hot and sunny and icky outside - or another locale with a similar climate, simply place your bowl outside in the sun for ten to fifteen minutes. If it isn't so hot and sunny, melt it gently in a double boiler (explained below).
Once it's melted for a bit, stir it. If it looks like this, it isn't ready yet. Place it outside a little longer (or leave it on the double boiler - where you'll want to be stirring it every minute or so anyway).
When your chocolate looks like this (picture below), it's ready. You don't want it to get too hot or it will lose the good tempering it had from the factory (the pretty glossy finish that you want for your truffles), and you definitely want it to be completely smooth like this.
At this point, you want to add your flavoring. Hazelnut liqueur. Yum. Stir until it's completely absorbed in the ganache.
At this point, place your chocolate in the fridge (if it's hot out) to harden up a little bit. You don't want it completely solid, but you want it stiff enough that it will hold its shape as you begin to turn it into actual truffles! Note the finger prints that can be pushed in but that hold their shape.
Using a melon baller or spoons or other method of your choice, create little balls of chocolate. These can be placed very close together on a sil pat or parchment paper, as they aren't going to change shape like cookies will. Notice that they're a little rough around the edges. That's fine; we'll fix it later. Once you're finished, put the cookie sheet in the fridge again to ensure the truffles are nice and hard.
While the truffles are chilling again, you want to make the coating for the outside of the truffles. Alternatively, you could roll these in cocoa powder or (gag) powdered sugar instead of dipping them in chocolate again. Personally, I like the look of the dipped truffles like this, and they taste great. Place the remaining 5 oz of chocolate and 1 T of butter into your double boiler.
Double boiler? Yeah... a metal bowl on top of a pot. That works just fine. Place an inch or two of water in the bottom, and turn on the heat, no higher than medium. This will gently melt the chocolate without burning it. Stir every minute or two until this chocolate looks like the beautiful smooth and glossy chocolate you had above.
Once the chocolate is melted, remove it from the heat (I always have a towel on hand to wipe the bottom of the bowl to get all the condensation to ensure no steam curls around the bowl and gets into my chocolate which will give it a really nasty and grainy texture). While it's coming to room temperature, we're going to revisit those truffles in the fridge. The one on the left looks a whole lot better, doesn't it?
All you're going to do is pick up the rough truffle and roll it in your hands a few seconds to get the ridges off. Since it's summer and my hands are hot, within a truffle or two, they'll simply be melting all over my hands, which is not what I want. I need to keep my hands cool to avoid that melting, so I have a system. I get out two ice packs and put them on the counter with a towel next to them. I put my hands on the ice packs and get them nice and cool, then pat them dry on the towel. Nifty, huh?
Last up, we're going to use that bit of melted chocolate to coat our truffles. Drop in truffles one at a time. Using a fork, roll the truffle in chocolate until it's coated. Pick it up gently with a fork, then shake it gently to get rid of as much excess chocolate as you can. Place it back on the sil pat if you don't want more dirty dishes - or on a cookie rack so the chocolate can drip down and leave a perfect truffle.
Yum! I can't wait to hear how everyone likes these. Keep them in the fridge in a covered container for a week or so. Enjoy this and more with Tempt My Tummy Tuesday and Blessed With Grace!
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