Tuesday, August 29, 2006

TRUFFLES-- Espresso (or Raspberry or Mint or Orange or....etc.)


I'm posting this in response to a request specifically for my Espresso Truffles, but I use this recipe as a base for just about any flavor of truffle. It's the perfect base to play with, and if you make a heavenly variation, please post a comment so I can copy you! See the variations I make by the asterisks below.

12 oz. chocolate (I just use a bag of chocolate chips, but if you want to splurge, buy chunks of the best quality chocolate you can afford)

1/2 cup heavy cream (if making one of the jam variations below, use a bit less heavy cream, as the melted jam will make the truffles a little softer than usual if you use the same amount of cream)

2 tsp. vanilla extract

1/4 cup roughly ground coffee or espresso beans OR run-of-the-mill ground coffee. (If making these like Martha, add the ground coffee and/or beans to the heavy cream right after it has reached the boiling point. Remove from heat and let steep for 30 minutes. Strain, discarding the solids, and boil cream again before adding to the chocolate. Or, in a hurried pinch, just dump ground coffee into the chocolate mixture, to taste.)

***At this point, for a differently flavored truffle, I omit the vanilla and coffee and add one of the following:
- homemade raspberry jam, melted on the stovetop and seeds strained out, to taste
- any other flavor of jam, prepared similarly
- peppermint extract and/or crushed candy canes
- another extract such as almond or orange (if using orange, I usually grate in a bit of orange zest, also)
- rum extract (or rum!)with a few crushed toffee bits thrown in, if desired
- ....you get the idea

Cocoa powder, chopped nuts, chopped chocolate, crushed mint candies, flavored cappuccino mix, or melted chocolate, for rolling and dipping.

Place chocolate in a medium bowl (if using bulk chocolate, break into small pieces first). In a small saucepan, bring the heavy cream to a boil over medium heat. Pour over the chocolate pieces and let sit one minute. Stir until chocolate is incorporated and mixture is smooth (you may need to carefully heat the mixture a bit more to reach this point). Cool a bit and then stir in vanilla, to taste. If you're making them unlike Martha, this is also the point at which you dump in the run-of-the-mill ground coffee. (Add any ingredients for variations at this point instead of the vanilla and coffee.)

Place in refrigerator for several hours until firm enough to shape into balls. Shape into balls and roll or dip in desired coating.

If you want to coat them in chocolate, carefully melt 12 oz. chocolate with 1 tablespoon shortening in a double boiler or in a bowl resting on top of a simmering pan of water without touching the water. (Google "tempering chocolate" for instructions on proper tempering. Untempered chocolate tastes the same but may develop a "bloom.") Using a fork, dip them individually, shake off the excess chocolate, and place on wax-lined cookie sheet to let chocolate set. Dust tops with nuts or candy or whatever your little heart wishes. Squiggles of white chocolate can be squiggled on after the chocolate shell sets.

Truffles make my heart sing! (Okay, okay...that's a lie. I eat so many of the darn things that my heart actually creaks, complains, and then starts beating unevenly. Yes, arrhythmia is totally worth it.)

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