Friends – Believe me when I say that I know my way around a chocolate truffle. Something about all that decadence packed into such a petite, elegant package makes me go crazy. The thrilling way the chocolate shell breaks apart in the first bite is pure magic. One could pop the whole thing into one’s mouth, of course, but true truffle lovers wouldn’t dare. We savor. We indulge. And it’s a good thing too, because chocolate truffles are a pain in the butt to make.
I’ve been making truffles as homemade gifts for the past 7 years or so. It’s kind of my signature. Over the years I’ve tried a multitude of recipes and countless techniques and have only narrowly escaped a descent into sheer chocolate madness. Truffles are hard work. I’m no Jacques Torres, that’s for sure, but through my years of experience, I do consider myself somewhat of an expert in one aspect of truffle creation: Making it as easy as possible. I’ve winnowed my method down to the bare essentials. I know what works for me and I’m all about ease. I want a malleable chocolate ganache that is easy to work with. I want a chocolate tempering method that is simple and quick. I don’t want to dirty every dish in my kitchen. I want to make chocolate truffles. I don’t want to go insane.
Well friends, it’s your lucky day! I’m going to spare you 7 years of experimentation and frustration and let you in on my easiest, most streamlined approach to truffle making. What follows is my recipe for simple, rich chocolate truffles…and it’s good, I’m not going to lie. If ‘simple’ isn’t your thing and you really want to impress your friends, scroll down to the bottom of the post and check out my variations. These fancy pants truffles will knock your socks off and, best of all, they’re all vegan. If you have a vegan in your life who you think needs some extra special love, make these truffles and expect them to go absolutely bananas. All my variations have been taste tested by the resident omnivore in my house (my husband), and I assure you that you can expect non-vegans to go bananas too.
Vegan Valentine Truffles
Makes approximately 12 truffles – depending on how big you decide to make them
4 oz semisweet chocolate chips
2 Tbsp soy milk
1 Tbsp maple syrup
2 Tbsp cocoa powder
3.5 oz dark chocolate, chopped into small chunks
Heat chocolate chips in a double boiler – or in a heatproof bowl placed over a pot of simmering water – stirring constantly just until smooth. Stir in soy milk and maple syrup and remove from heat. Set aside to cool for about 30 minutes then put it refrigerator until ready to use. (Can be kept in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to a week).
Using a melon-baller, create round balls of ganache.
Roll the balls gently between your palms until they are smooth.
Place a couple tablespoons of cocoa powder in a dish or on a piece of parchment paper and toss the ganache balls in the cocoa powder. Tap gently to remove the excess.
Tempered Chocolate Coating:
Place chopped chocolate in a glass bowl. Microwave for 1 minute, then stir with a spatula for a good while. Continue microwaving chocolate in 15 second increments, until nearly all of the chocolate is melted. Stir with a spatula until all the remaining chunks of chocolate have melted and everything is smooth. Check the temperature of the chocolate. It should be somewhere around 100 to 110 degrees Fahrenheit. Transfer the chocolate into a new (cooler) bowl and check the temperature again. You want it to be at 88 to 90 degrees (no higher). If the temperature is higher than 90 degrees, keep on stirring until it has cooled to the appropriate temperature. Then, your chocolate is ‘in temper’. Working quickly, toss the chocolate ganache balls in the tempered chocolate one at a time. Lift out with a fork, shaking off the excess, and place on a piece of parchment paper to set.
After the chocolate has set, use a knife to shave off any drips or puddles that have collected around the base of the truffles. Make them look pretty.
Use whatever you want to embellish your truffles. Chopped nuts, cocoa nibs, a quick dusting of cocoa powder. For my valentine, I used dragees and royal icing. You can either adhere the dragees directly onto the truffles while the chocolate is setting, or you can use a bit of royal icing to ‘glue’ them on after the fact. I used the royal icing method. As you can see, I also decorated the tops of some of the truffles with royal icing hearts or “XO”. Note – royal icing does not hold its form very well. I would practice a couple times before you try to pipe something out on your truffles so you can see how it moves. I used the smallest decorating tip I own: #261 (Ateco).
Vegan Royal Icing:
3/4 tsp Ener-G Egg Replacer
1 Tbsp water
1/2 tsp lemon juice
1/8 tsp almond extract (optional)
3/4 cup sifted powdered sugar
Whisk egg replacer powder with water until frothy. Add lemon juice and almond extract (if using). Stir in powdered sugar until smooth. Add food coloring if desired. Keep covered with plastic wrap when not actively in use.
Traditional chocolate truffles not enough for you? Wanna get fancy? Try these variations:
Dark Chocolate Agave Lime Truffles: Add the zest of 2 limes to ganache mixture after removing from heat. Substitute agave syrup for maple syrup. (*** This is my favorite variation ***)
Fiery Mexican Chocolate Truffles: Add 1/8 tsp of cayenne powder to ganache mixture after removing from heat. Put a pinch of cayenne powder and a tablespoon of large-crystal sugar (I use turbinado sugar, sometimes called ‘Sugar in the Raw’) in a mortar and pestle. Grind a bit and then sprinkle on top of the truffles while the tempered chocolate is setting. Spicy!
Fleur de Sel Caramel Chocolate Truffles: Combine 1/3 cup sugar and 2 tablespoons water in a saucepan over medium heat. Stir until sugar dissolves. Boil until syrup is a deep amber color. Add 1/4 Cup soy creamer and watch out because it will bubble like crazy. Reduce heat and stir until caramel is smooth. Add a pinch of Fleur de Sel and then 4 oz chopped dark chocolate. Remove from heat and stir until ganache is smooth. Sprinkle a few grains of Fleur de Sel atop each truffle after dipping in tempered chocolate.
If I haven’t convinced you to give truffle making a try, check out these Conversation Heart Cookies I made as Valentine’s treats a couple years ago.
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