I was going to give you more oatmeal raisin deliciousness this week – pancakes! muffins! – but then I decided to give you all a break. (Please contain your gratitude.) Besides, I don’t want anybody to think that my choice to feature oatmeal raisin cookies over chocolate chip cookies means that I don’t love chocolate, because I do. I adore chocolate. If I didn’t, I wouldn’t have made the macarons or the brownies or the churro eclairs. Just thinking about those three delicious chocolate-filled treats makes my heart beat a little faster. Or maybe that’s because my arteries are hardening from all the chocolate I’ve consumed. Whatever.
If there’s one chocolate confection that rules supreme, however, it would have to be the truffle. Just whisper the words “chocolate truffle” in any woman’s ear and she’ll probably go weak in the knees. Mention that the truffles are spicy and you’ll captivate all of the men as well. Even people who claim not to like chocolate, like my older sister, and people who claim not to like spicy foods, like my mother, request these truffles every single year.
The story of how I began making truffles is a lot like the story of how I learned to cook. It was December 2008, I was a poor graduate student, and I suddenly had a lot of holiday gifts I needed to buy. The year before I’d baked over 100 biscotti to send to my friends and relatives, and it had been well-received, but I wanted to top myself. So I decided to make truffles. Eight flavors of them. It was a stupidly over-ambitious undertaking, and if I’d known what I was getting myself into I’d probably have just bought everybody gift cards. But at the time, $200 on ingredients seemed pretty cheap for all of my holiday gifts, so I went to Whole Foods and then started cooking.
I made about 300 truffles that year in a two-day ganache-making chocolate-dipping frenzy that left me exhausted and swearing that I’d never undertake such foolishness again. But I hadn’t taken the recipients’ reaction into account. Everybody went crazy over those things. People argued over which flavor was the best and hoarded the truffles jealously from the people they lived with. I’ve been pretty much forced to do the same thing every year since then. This year, when I was too busy to make truffles because of the whole cross-country move thing, I got multiple complaints. So let this be a cautionary tale: if you make truffles for people as gifts, they will remember and demand more.
Are truffles hard to make? Not really. Most truffles that I make have ganache centers, and ganache is easy. All you have to do is emulsify chocolate and cream, which basically means heating one or the other and then mixing them together. When I want to make a really fast ganache, I heat the chocolate in the microwave, pour in the cream, and whisk like crazy. That works well if you’re adding alcohol to flavor it, too. If you want to flavor it with spices, you’re better off heating the cream and spices together, then adding the chocolate. Voila – ganache. Sometimes I pour all of the ganache into a lined cake pan and make one giant chocolate truffle. No complaints as of yet. If you want to go a little fancier, roll the ganache, dip it into some tempered chocolate, garnish, and serve.
Alternatively, contact me and I might be willing to make some for you. These are the flavors I’ve had experience with thus far:
-spicy Mexican chocolate truffles with cinnamon and cayenne (can also be vegan!)
-spicy Japanese truffles with wasabi, crystallized ginger, and matcha
-chambord truffles stuffed with a whole raspberry
-balsamic truffles with parmigiano-reggiano coating
-80% pure dark chocolate truffles
-chai tea truffles
-coconut lemongrass truffles
-peanut butter crunch truffles
-apricot marzipan truffles
-pistachio chambord truffles
And other candies:
-beer marshmallows dipped in melt chocolate and coated with crushed pretzels
-white chocolate coconut candy cups with pink sea salt and vanilla bean
-smoked salt caramels
-thai peanut butter cups
-maple cream fudge
More candy recipes are on their way. Start eating salads in advance.