Thursday, April 14, 2011

Truffles - Part 1

A few months ago, a friend asked me if I'd ever made truffles or if I knew how to temper chocolate. The answer to both of these questions was no. I've played with molding chocolate before (read the little fake chocolate morsels you get at the craft store), but I've never really worked with real chocolate.

To clarify, to be classified as real chocolate, the chocolate must contain cocoa butter. Those little candy morsels that come in 20 different colors, aren't real chocolate. Don't get me wrong, they still taste great, but if we're getting technical, they are not technically "chocolate." Instead the cocoa butter has been removed and replaced with other types of fats. This allows the chocolate to be much more workable, and still gives you that "snap" without having to temper it. Which is pretty sweet, especially considering that you can't taste much of a difference unless you're a chocolate snob.

Back to truffles. The thing is, I love baking, I love chocolate, I love making little treats for people, and I love knowing stuff. And since I didn't know how to properly temper chocolate, I knew I needed to take a class.

Truffles 101.

Last night we made 4 different types of truffles, learned to temper chocolate, and also discovered why these little buggers are so expensive.

First, the insides.

The inside of a truffle is made with some type of ganache. A ganache is simply a type of filling/icing/chocolate coating that is made with cream and chocolate. (read: includes cocoa butter). The density of the ganache depends on the ratio of cream to chocolate. A 1:1 ratio will give you more of a coating ganache, where as a 1:2 ratio will make the ganache more dense and thus moldable. The ganache can also be flavored by adding different things into the cream. ie - adding orange zest to the cream while it is boiling will give the ganache a hint of orange.

To make the ganache first bring your heavy cream to a boil. If you're adding a flavoring like orange zest, do it now. Watch your heavy cream. It will boil over if you are not careful. Meanwhile get your chocolate cut up into small pieces and place into a metal bowl. Once the heavy cream is hot and just at boiling, strain it through a small sieve (if you've added any type of zest or herbs) to remove all the particles. Then pour it over the room temperature chocolate pieces. Using a spatula, just push the chocolate down into the cream, so it is all covered.

Now, resist the urge to stir. Stop. Don't do it.

Let the cream sit over the chocolate for 2-3 minutes to allow the heat of the cream to melt the chocolate. If you start stirring you will release the heat and the chocolate will not melt.

After 3 minutes, put your spatula, or wooden spoon, into center of the chocolate and start working it together. Start from the center keeping the spatula down. Try to prevent getting air bubbles in the chocolate, it's just bad form. Slowly work the cream and chocolate together, moving out to the sides, until incorporated.

Line a 8x8 or 10x10 pan with saran wrap, then pour the ganache into the pan. Gently place another piece of saran wrap over the top and let it sit on the counter for 10-12 hours.

Yep, that's the hard part. Don't touch it!

This will allow the ganache to firm up and become workable. If it is still super soft, toss it in the fridge for a little while. But you should be good.

When you are ready, use a tablespoon to scoop out evenly proportioned amounts of chocolate. The tablespoon will keep all your truffles the same size.

Place each rolled ball onto parchment paper and read Part 2. If the truffles were getting soft when you were rolling them, you can toss them in the fridge for a bit while you start melting your chocolate. (if the chocolate is super soft, which it may be depending on your liquid to chocolate ratio, I'd recommend using rubber gloves to roll them). Remember to bring the truffles out of the fridge about 5 minutes before dipping, to bring them back to a slightly cool room temperature. If they are too cold, the chocolate coating will crack, as you'll see in part 2.

Note: To find some great ganache truffle recipes just use google. There are plenty out there.

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