I'm finally getting into a rhythm with this new chocolate-on-a-daily-basis resolution. There were a few stumbles in the first couple of days, like the morning when I had trouble buttoning my pants (ahem) and the one day last week when I realized I wasn't really craving chocolate, but all in all, I still believe in the feasibility of this experiment. After all, doing an extra workout or two per week never hurt anyone, right? And besides, I have found the perfect solution to those moments in which I might not have chocolate on the brain. Truly, do 30 minutes of yoga and then eat a truffle. The state of calm that can be achieved in this manner is peerless.
There used to be a place downtown where The Carnivore and I would pop in occasionally to purchase a couple of truffles. We loved the little locally-owned candy store, where the truffles were made on site and the selection was of mind-boggling variety, so we were aghast when they closed down five years (or so) ago. See, I'm a little picky about my confections. While Godiva makes perfectly luscious little treats, I just don't get the same thrill from mass-market goods as I do from something handmade. And it was with no small amount of dismay that I discovered the new candy store in town buys their truffles from California and merely displays them, unboxed and on wax paper, behind glass as if they were made that morning.
Obviously, I knew that this, my Year of Daily Chocolate was going to involve learning some new recipes and I was looking forward to that aspect. And where I generally adore baking new brownie recipes and and making rich chocolate tarts, most of the time I would prefer something more simple. Some little bite-sized bit of heaven to go with my afternoon coffee. A taste and texture more interesting than a square from a bar of dark chocolate, but which doesn't include a long and arduous list of ingredients.
You know, like a truffle.
So I climbed up on the stepladder in the kitchen and started pulling down some cookbooks. Only once before had I attempted a truffle recipe and it was one from a leading and rather pedestrian women's magazine that, while easy enough to make, wasn't really anything to write home about. There was no hard outer coating and the truffle itself, while rich and creamy, was rolled in nuts and just seemed a little too fussy for my taste.
I have a tidy little stack of chocolate cookbooks and so I tagged a handful of truffle recipes in the indices. Each sounded incredible and well worth the work (and the cost of the ingredients) required, but it was in David Lebovitz' The Great Book of Chocolate that I stumbled across a recipe for Deep Dark Chocolate Truffles which used only a handful of ingredients, had both the creamy interior and the hard outer shell that I consider non-negotiable, and was billed as simple enough for any trained monkey (my words, not his).
I should mention that I really like David Lebovitz. He had a post on his blog a year or so ago in which he included detailed instructions for peeling a banana and I can't help but trust him implicitly now. Irreverance is a virtue in my book.
I adapted his recipe slightly, making the truffles a little larger than he suggested (mainly because I'm a six-fingered slob when it comes to using a melon baller), skipping the cocoa powder coating (because I hate/loathe/abominate getting dust all over my lips - powdered doughnuts are obviously a deal-breaker for that reason), and substituting coffee liqueur for cognac.
There is time involved here. Not hands-on time, mind you, but there is dead time between steps for firming and chilling and all that nonsense, so no small amount of patience is required. This used to be just the kind of thing that drove me batty, but now that I have grown accustomed to interruptions (thanks be to The Boy Wonder and Little Miss Piggy), the waiting periods meshed nicely with all the other things I had going on last weekend when I was making these.
But enough about the little details, right? All that really matters is the final result and oh my stars, these were incomparable. The texture inside was spot-on, the hard outer shell was thin and cracked just perfectly when the truffle was bit into, the flavor was intense and complex and just barely sweet and I am deeply in love.
These are so superb, in fact, that I'm afraid to try any of the other recipes that I flagged. I just don't see how they could live up to this one.
DEEP DARK CHOCOLATE TRUFFLES (adapted from The Great Book of Chocolate, makes 20 or so truffles)
- 3/4 cup heavy cream
- 14 to 16 ounces bittersweet chocolate (divided), chopped
- 2 tsps coffee liqueur
- Bring the cream just to a boil in a small saucepan. Remove from heat and stir in 10 ounces of the chocolate, stirring until melted. Stir in the liqueur and let the mixture stand for at least two hours, or until firm enough that it will hold it's shape when rolled into balls.
- Dip a melon baller into very warm water and scoop the chocolate mixture into 3/4 to 1-inch balls and set them on a plate. Once you have scooped all of the mixture, use your hands to roll the balls until perfectly round (or thereabouts). Rinsing your hands in warm water will help keep the chocolate from sticking to your palms and making a ginormous mess.
- Place the chocolate balls in the refrigerator and chill completely.
- Melt four ounces of the remaining chocolate in a heatproof bowl set over a pan of simmering water (or in the microwave, stirring every 30 seconds).
- Butter a couple of plates or a cookie sheet and set aside.
- Using a small spoon, place the chocolate balls, one at a time, into the melted chocolate and roll them around to coat them completely. Place the coated truffles onto the buttered plate as they are completed. If the melted chocolate runs low, melt the remaining 2 ounces of chocolate and continue dipping and coating.
- Serve chilled or at room temperature.