February 14th, 2008
Chocolate Truffles Recipe
Chocolate. Ah yes! One of life’s last remaining affordable luxuries (soon to be extinct). The best thing about chocolate (besides subsiding PMS) is that it comes in countless forms, allowing us to enjoy it no matter where we are or the time of day. Cakes of all sizes, cookies, drinks from the very hot to the nearly frozen, melting fondue, frothy mousse, a crunchy bar or smooth ice cream; all of it chocolate.
Produced from beans of the cacao tree, chocolate originated in South America but now grows in Africa, the West Indies, as well as tropical parts of the United States and Far East. It is the phenylethylamine (PEA) found in chocolate that is said to improve one's mood. Released when you "fall in love" (whatever that means), PEA is commonly referred to as the “love drug.” PEA works through dopamine and is a potent mood enhancer and anti-depressant. As the saying goes: chocolate is cheaper than therapy and you don't need an appointment.
Chocolate should not be melted over direct heat, except when melted with other ingredients; and even then, you should be cautious to keep the heat very low. Personally, I think it is best melted in my mouth :)
Double Boiler Method: Chop the chocolate into small, equal-sized pieces and place in the top pan of a
Microwave Method: To melt chocolate in a microwave, chop the chocolate in to small pieces and place in a microwave-proof bowl. Timing will vary according to the type and quantity of chocolate and your microwave. As a guide, melt for 20~30 seconds at a time stirring between heatings.
Chocolate sets best at 65F (18 degrees Celsius for all of you wonderful metric folks and those in Western Europe), although it will set more slowly in a slightly warmer room. If possible, set chocolate for decorations in a cool room. (Note that setting chocolate in the refrigerator may cause it to develop a white bloom).
10 ounces bittersweet chocolate morsels (a bar of chocolate is fine too - you'll just have to roll up your sleeves and use some elbow grease to chop into consistent fine pieces)
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 tablespoon light corn syrup
4 tablespoons of brandy
8 ounces semi-sweet chocolate morsels (or, if you prefer, bittersweet)
1 pinch cayenne pepper
2 tablespoons cocoa powder
2 tablespoons confectioner’s sugar
1. Combine 10 ounces chocolate and butter; melt using preferred method from above.
2. In a small saucepan, heat heavy cream (warmed) and corn syrup over medium-high heat until it simmers. Add this mixture to melted chocolate from step 1 but do not mix together. Instead, leave the mixture to sit for 2 minutes. The idea here is to let the residual heat do the work. Fold mixture together until fully incorporated and the mixture becomes smooth. Stir in brandy, remembering to always be gentle with the chocolate. Place chocolate and brandy mixture into an 8x8 baking dish, preferably glass, and refrigerate for 1 hour.
3. Form chocolate into small, evenly-sized balls by rolling between your two hands (a small spoon, portion scoop, or melon baller will also work). Pick up some food-grade gloves; you'll be glad you did! Form into balls and place balls on a baking sheet lined with wax or parchment paper. Chill in the refrigerator for 30 more minutes, or until firm. If the chocolate is too soft to form in hands, you can always use a spoon or one of the other tools mentioned above to move chocolate directly to the baking sheet. You can then form into balls after the second setting in the refrigerator. Remember what I said about setting chocolate in the refrigerator? Not a concern for this recipe, since we will be coating the truffles after the final setting stage.
4. Melt the remaining 8 ounces of chocolate with cayenne pepper, again, using preferred method from above. Ideally you want to keep the chocolate between 90~92F and adjust heat to maintain temperature. If you allow it to reach more than 94F, you will lose the 'snap' effect that the outer layer of a truffle is known for.
5. Cover a large, deep spoon or ice cream scoop with the melted chocolate, being sure to remove excess. Coat truffles one at a time by placing them in the spoon and rolling until coated. Lace truffles 1 at time into the scoop and roll around until coated. Transfer truffle to a dish with either cocoa powder or confectioner's sugar, once again rolling until coated. It is a good idea to let the truffle settle at least 15 seconds before moving to lined baking sheet. Repeat until all truffles are coated. Let sit in a cool (dry) place for at least one hour before eating. These truffles will keep for up to 2 weeks in a cool place. If you choose to store them in the refrigerator, allow them to come to room temperature before eating.
I was hoping to share this with all of you last week to give you time to prepare for the big day (V Day), but having too much fun in the snow got me pretty sick; hence the absence of posts. In any event, you can prepare this at home any time and present it to your beloved. It doesn't have to be Valentines Day to give and enjoy chocolate. Prepare the Chocolate Truffles very carefully, and enjoy the smile on your lover's face. She will admire the pains you took to prepare it. Shhh, she doesn't need to know that it's simple process. Serve this to your Valentine and enjoy the difference in her attitude on Valentine's day, or serve it to her when the moon is full and you won't be hounded by PMS wolves.
Happy Valentines Day!