Chocolate truffles are bite-sized balls of ganache, usually rolled in cocoa or nuts, or coated in a thin layer of hard chocolate.
Though most think of truffles as a luxury item sold in boutique chocolaterie, they can actually be made at home without fuss or artistry. All you need is good dark chocolate, heavy cream, and some garnishes of your choosing.
First, make the medium ganache described in this post. Let it cool to room temperature, then refrigerate until firm.
Use a measuring scoop to portion the ganache into bite-sized pieces.
Roll the pieces between your palms into uniform balls. I use nitrile gloves for this. Besides forming the round shape of the final truffle, this process also melts the outermost layer of ganache so that your garnishes will adhere.
While the outer chocolate is still partially melted, roll the truffle around in the garnish of your choice.
Notes on Garnishes
Nuts. Always toast the nuts first. A small amount of salt is usually welcome. The most important part of nut garnishes is crushing the nuts to the correct size. Too fine and the nuts become flour. Too coarse and they will look awkward clinging to the side of the truffle. I use a food processor, then sift out the nut flour, and then use a perforated pan to remove large pieces. The nut flour can be reserved for other baking projects, the larger pieces of nut returned to the processor.
Chocolate. Rubbing a bar of chocolate with a peeler will create tiny, elegant curls of chocolate that make great truffle garnishes.
Dried Fruit. You can create some interesting garnishes from dried or candied fruit. The challenge is in busting the fruit into small enough pieces. I use a food processor and add a good pinch of granulated sugar which prevents clumping. The same can be done with candied ginger.
Interior Garnishes. Hide a whole, roasted nut or a piece of dried fruit inside the truffle. In the photo below, the truffles in the centre contain a dried cherry that was soaked in kirsch.
Applying the Garnishes. I just toss the rolled chocolate balls into a bowl of the garnish, then gently shake the bowl to jostle the ganache. I don’t roll the ball in my palms any further, as this would press the garnishes into the chocolate; I prefer the garnish to “stand up” on the chocolate. When removing the truffle, don’t use chocolatey hands that will smudge the garnish. Below are some sloppy truffles. The one on the right has the garnishes pressed too far into the chocolate. The one on the left was handled with chocolatey hands. Not a great picture, but hopefully you get my meaning.
They don’t have the same visual appeal as these little beauties. From left to right: pistachio, sour cherry and kirsch, candied ginger and orange.