Chocolate Truffles: Part 1

So it’s Valentine’s Day, a Hallmark holiday seemingly created for the sole purpose of making singles feel miserable about their lives (especially, say, if you were dumped the week of Valentine’s Day… you know, not like I am speaking from experience or anything…) and men feel obligated to buy their ladies flowers and chocolates. Well, you know what made me feel better about today? Chocolate truffles, that’s what. More specifically, dark chocolate Chambord truffles and semi-sweet chocolate cayenne truffles. Oh yes. And since I’m feeling so jovial right now, waiting for the sexy chocolate goodness to chill in the fridge so I can roll and dip these sweet babies in even more chocolate, I am going to share a little two-part photo log with you, detailing the process.

A few of the beginning steps were cut out for two reasons. One, they are simple enough; a picture to describe how to open the bag of chocolate chips with your kitchen shears and empty chocolate contents into a glass bowl, in my opinion, is hardly necessary. Two, it was after I started the recipe that I realized, hey, this would make a good photo blog, so some steps were already completed; I couldn’t easily un-melt the butter and chocolate for the sake of taking a damn picture.

I should note that I am following Alton Brown’s chocolate truffles recipe from the Food Network website. I chose this recipe because I wanted to make rolled-and-dipped truffles with a soft center and a hard chocolate shell (think of the ones you can get at Godiva; the chocolate exterior softly cracks when you bite into it and gives way to a luscious center) and not just rolled truffles (we had these at Hickory Farms when I worked there; they are more akin to fudge, I think.) The difference between the two is basically the final step: you dip the formed chocolate balls into melted chocolate, roll them in a coating (optional), and allow them to cool to form the shell, or you don’t dip them in chocolate and just roll them in a coating. The choice is yours, both are chocolate and tasty.

For what I am deeming as phase one of this recipe, the ingredients required include:

  • one 12oz bag of chocolate chips (or the equivalent if you are using chocolate cut from a bar or chunk, but chips are easier to deal with)
  • 3 tablespoons of butter
  • ½ cup of heavy cream
  • 1 tablespoon of light corn syrup
  • a flavoring of some kind (in my case, I am using cayenne pepper for this batch, added to taste)

The first step is to melt the chocolate. There are a few ways to do this, but the microwave option is the easiest; why screw around with a double boiler, or a glass-bowl-over-simmering-pot-of-water substitute, when you don’t have to? Using the microwave is a wonderful, easy way to melt chocolate – so get over it, food snobs. To melt chocolate in a microwave, you don’t want to put it on a million minutes and let it go. Put it on for thirty seconds at a time, stir, and repeat until the chocolate has melted nicely and there are few, if any, lumps.

As you can see, I melted the chocolate together with the butter until it was a smooth, uniform mixture. I used one 12oz bag of Hershey’s semi-sweet chocolate chips (in the other truffle recipe I made and flavored with Chambord, I used the Hershey’s Special Dark chips) and three tablespoons of unsalted butter, which had been cut into cubes.

Next step is to heat ½ cup of heavy cream and one tablespoon of light corn syrup over medium heat until gently simmering.

Pour the heavy cream and corn syrup mixture over the melted chocolate and let sit about a minute or two.

Stir cream and chocolate until incorporated into a smooth mixture that should, well, look like a bowl of melted chocolate again and not a bowl of chocolate with cream on top of it.

At this point in time, although it can be done earlier and added to the cream mixture on the stove top if you are using a flavoring other than alcohol, I added cayenne pepper to the chocolate mixture to taste. I was looking for the “feel it at the back of your throat” effect.

I threw some cinnamon in there, too, because cinnamon and chocolate… don’t get me started.

After the chocolate mixture has been flavored to taste, it is covered and stashed it in the fridge for about an hour (could take longer) so the mixture can set up and be easily shaped into balls of chocolatey goodness.

Now we wait. Phase two is coming by the end of the day. It involves more waiting, sure, when the truffles have to be chilled after dipping, but phase three is oh-so worth it.

If you enjoyed phase one, you might want to continue reading the next phase. Yes, more chocolate is involved, in case you didn’t already assume that!

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