Sugar High Friday #25: Chocolate Truffles

November 24th, 2006

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Johanna of thepassionatecook came up with a decadently delightful theme for Sugar High Friday #25 : chocolate truffles. A nice follow-up to last month’s SHF, since it’s getting to be that time of year when having a tray of candies out for party guests or a tin of chocolates to give as a gift would be lovely. Last year around this time I had just procured my copy of Michael Recchiuti’s Chocolate Obsession, all the impetus I needed to spend the next month in a frenzy of tempered chocolate and infused ganaches. I haven’t decided if I’m brave enough to go that route again, but I did find Recchiuti’s techniques for making gorgeous, silky-smooth ganaches invaluable – anyone’s who tried some of his chocolates can attest to the quality of his creations.

While at its simplest ganache is simply a mixture of chocolate and cream, there is a world’s worth of difference between simply pouring hot cream over chocolate, and in a careful calibration and combination of the components. Recchiuti stresses three points in his methodology:

1)Temperature. Having the chocolate and cream both at the right temperature (115 degrees for the cream and for most dark chocolates) will encourage a proper and perfectly smooth emulsification of the two ingredients. Having the ingredients too hot or cold could result in your ganache breaking (the fat from the cocoa butter separating) or turning out grainy.

2) Invert sugar. Recchiuti’s book is the first one I’ve seen that suggests home confectioners use invert sugar. Invert sugar is simply a form of sugar where the sucrose has been separated into the simple sugars glucose and fructose. The sugar crystals in this liquid form are smaller than in regular sugar, which will make your ganache that much more smoother. Invert sugar also does not crystallize easily – so if you’ve ever boiled sugar and water to make caramel and add some lemon juice or cream of tartar to prevent crystals from forming, you’re actually inverting the sugar! Invert sugar is relatively inexpensive – I get mine at KitchenKrafts.

3)Mixing method. Recchiuti recommends that the home confectioner use a handheld immersion blender to emulsify the ganache – who would have thought that old stick blender I had regulated to the bottom of the closet would come in handy again? Recchiuti prefers this to a food processor, although I feel that might be getting a little specific. I think the main point is that having a little mechanical help will get you a smoother ganache than simply whisking by hand.

All of Recchiuti’s recipes I’ve tried have come out beautifully – from his signature burnt caramel truffle to the jasmine tea-infused truffle to the lavender vanilla truffle. I was tempted to try some of the ones I haven’t made yet, but instead I opted to use his techniques and come up with truffles of my own.

I was inspired by another chocolatier extraordinaire, Katrina Markoff of Vosges Haut-Chocolat, one of the trailblazers in the "exotic chocolate" category. Starting with a line of truffles infused with culinary exotica such as curry, paprika, and star anise, she has been unveiling ever more daring collections every year – this holiday’s is a particularly charming tribute to African-American music where every truffle corresponds to a musical era and contains appropriate ingredients. Jazz, for example, has Café du Monde chicory coffee blended with dark chocolate, while Rock and Roll has tobacco smoked milk chocolate with clove powder. If you’re ever pondering what new flavor you could put in your chocolate, I suggest her site for some inspiration!

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I wanted to make a truffle similar to Markoff’s Black Pearl, a dark chocolate flavored with wasabi and ginger. It came out surprisingly well on the first attempt – spicy, piquant, titillating. The black sesame seeds on top add delicate crunch. This is definitely a combination that I would have never thought of for a truffle, yet when I taste it everything works in an unexpected way.

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To pair with the wasabi-ginger, another taste inspired by Japan: a simple matcha truffle. If you’ve seen the Matcha Opera Cake, you already know I found green tea and chocolate an irresistible combination. Here is the idea condensed into a handful of delicate and subtle joy.

Because I was making relatively small batches of ganache, I chose to get lazy and not go through the process of tempering chocolate for dipping the truffles into. However, the beauty of truffles is that you can just roll them in a bit of cocoa powder and look equally dressed up and ready for presentation. If someone chooses to get me one of these for Christmas, though, I might change my mind about tempering on a moment’s notice…

Wasabi Ginger Truffles with Black Sesame

makes about 25 truffles

1/2 cup cream

1/3 cup (3 1/2 ounces by weight) invert sugar

3/4 teaspoon wasabi powder (you may adjust to taste)

1/2 teaspoon ground ginger (you may adjust to taste)

5 1/2 ounces dark chocolate, finely chopped

2 1/2 tablespoons butter, very soft (75 degrees)

black sesame seeds for decoration

Combine the cream and invert sugar in a saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium heat on the stove.

Remove from heat, add the wasabi and ginger, cover the top of saucepan with plastic wrap and let stand for about 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, place the chocolate in a bowl and set over a pot of simmering water. Do not let the bowl touch the surface of the water. Melt the chocolate until it reaches 115 degrees. The chocolate will most likely not be fully melted yet and you will have to stir it – watch carefully or your chocolate will overheat and you will have to wait for it to cool down!

Check to make sure the cream is also at 115 degrees. Strain if there appear to be lumps and you can’t break them up.

Pour the cream and chocolate into a tall, clear container. Use an immersion blender to blend the mixture until the ganache thickens and becomes pudding like. Add the butter and combine with the immersion blender. Alternatively, you can do all this in a food processor.

Pour the ganache into a container that will allow it to spread out to a thickness of about an inch (not a very large container). This will make it easier to scoop truffles.

Allow the ganache to cool to room temperature, then cover and refrigerate until firm, preferably overnight.

When you are ready to make truffles, use a small cookie dough scoop to scoop balls from the ganache. Place them on a tray so you can pop it in the refrigerator to chill if necessary.

Roll the truffles in dark cocoa powder and decorate with the sesame seeds.

Store the truffles in the refrigerator, and remove about half and hour before serving.

Matcha Truffles

makes about 25 truffles

1/3 cup cream

1/4 cup (2 3/4 ounces by weight) invert sugar

1 1/2 tablespoons matcha (you may adjust to taste)

6 ounces dark chocolate, finely chopped

2 tablespoons butter, very soft (75 degrees)

Combine the cream and invert sugar in a saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium heat on the stove.

Remove from heat, add the matcha, stirring to dissolve. Cover the top of saucepan with plastic wrap and let stand for about 10 minutes. Check it occasionally and stir to dissolve and remaining bits.

Meanwhile, place the chocolate in a bowl and set over a pot of simmering water. Do not let the bowl touch the surface of the water. Melt the chocolate until it reaches 115 degrees. The chocolate will most likely not be fully melted yet and you will have to stir it – watch carefully or your chocolate will overheat and you will have to wait for it to cool down!

Check to make sure the cream is also at 115 degrees and strain out any undissolved matcha.

Pour the cream and chocolate into a tall, clear container. Use an immersion blender to blend the mixture until the ganache thickens and becomes pudding like. Add the butter and combine with the immersion blender. Alternatively, you can do all this in a food processor.

Pour the ganache into a container that will allow it to spread out to a thickness of about an inch (not a very large container). This will make it easier to scoop truffles.

Allow the ganache to cool to room temperature, then cover and refrigerate until firm, preferably overnight.

When you are ready to make truffles, use a small cookie dough scoop to scoop balls from the ganache. Place them on a tray so you can pop it in the refrigerator to chill if necessary.

Roll the truffles in dark cocoa powder and decorate with a bit of matcha on top.

Store the truffles in the refrigerator, and remove about half and hour before serving.

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19 Comments so far ↓

  • Kat #1

    gosh, everyone is making truffles, might have to make some myself. :) hope santa gets you the tempering machine for christmas. your truffles look and sound wonderful!

  • Helene #2

    Beautiful! and really interesting flavors. I am very tempted! I see that we both have the same invert sugar purveyor. I find KK really easy to shop with, especially for small quantities.

  • johanna #3

    what intriguing flavour combinations! i am absolutely hooked and will definitely try these… thanks for contributing!

  • Ellie #4

    Awesome way to combine Asian flavours into this dessert, the photographs are simply superb!

  • Linda #5

    Awesome! Amazing! Your truffles really good great. :) I have not tried making them before but have heard from a friend and read about how precision is very important esp in the area of making choc. Well done..

    Your words of desription are so well crafted that I am craving for chocolates. I love green tea and anything with it..definitely with Chocolates as well! :)

  • Ivonne #7

    Anita,

    As always your post is first of all beautiful to look at, but secondly so full of useful information. I’ve only made truffles once or twice and found it very difficult and time-consuming. If I try them again, I will keep your advice in mind.

    Beautiful truffles!

  • Jeanne #8

    What gorgeous photos – and how fabulous the truffles sound! Thanks for the ganache lesson – it seems to me that with truffle-making, attention to detail at each relatively simple step of the process is the secret of success. Although it looks simple on paper, there are ways and ways of doing things. You seem to have got it down to a fine art!

  • Dianka #9

    Wow, what creative combinations, these look delicious!

  • gattina #10

    Anita,
    an excellent post! I definitely come back here every time I make truffles!
    The ingredients you chose, the styling and the photo setting are all so chic, love them all!

  • Meeta #11

    Wasabi Ginger Truffles? Golly I wish I was somewhere near you to try this incredible combination. WOW! It all sounds so good.

  • Rebekka #12

    WOW. What a beautiful blog. Thanks for being so detailed,and for putting dessert first.

    :)Rebekka

  • Anita #13

    Kat,
    Thank you! I won’t hold my breath for the tempering machine – maybe in a couple of years!

    Helene,
    Glad to find a fellow fan of KK! They seem to carry everything!

    Johanna,
    Thanks for hosting! You got a fabulous response!

    Ellie,
    Thank you! It was fun to try some different flavor combinations!

    Linda,
    Thank you! It’s can be intimidating when you start doing chcocolates – but the results are worth the effort!

    Peabody,
    Thank you! I loved your truffle entry!

    Ivonne,
    Thank you! They can be a hassle, but then you get into it and realize how fun it is to make all different flavors!

    Jeanne,
    There’s definitely a lot of patience and precision involved with chocolate – fortunately, the mistakes can always be eaten!:)

    Dianka,
    Thank you! I had fun trying something different!

    Gattina,
    Thank you! It’s a compliment coming from someone with such a beautiful site herself!

    Meeta,
    Thank you! Exotic chocolate seem to be very “in” right now – wouldn’t be surprised to find some at local gourmet stores!

    Rebekka,
    I’m glad you enjoy the blog. Thanks so much for visiting!

  • Mae #14

    Lucky guests…

    The wasabi-ginger sounds tempting. Your truffles are gorgeous.

  • Tovie #15

    Awesome! I love the Black Pearl chocolate. Can’t wait to try your truffle recipe. Thanks :)

  • Kina #16

    Beautiful!

  • blender #17

    Looks divine!

  • Jiyoung #18

    wow,gorgeous///

  • Roselyn #19

    Hello! I’d love to try your truffle recipes. However, I do not have any invert sugar on hand. What can I use as replacement? Also this is the first time I saw a chocolate truffle recipe with added sugar. Doesn’t this sweeten the ganache? Thanks!

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