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Chocolate Truffles

The really hard part about making truffles is not in the recipe,
it's in coating them with the chocolate shell.

The centers are made from ganache, a chocolate confection made from
chocolate and heavy cream melted together. The recipe I use calls
for 1 cup of heavy cream to 8oz dark sweetened chocolate. These
are melted together in a double boiler until smooth, then poured
into a bowl and refrigerated overnight.

It is extremely important to not allow any water or steam near
chocolate while it is melting. It will cause the chocolate to
seize up and become hard and brittle. This is true of both the
ganache and the dipping chocolate.

Once the ganache is prepared, you make 1 to 2 inch balls of it,
using either two spoons or a candy scoop (like a miniature ice
cream scoop). You can finish shaping with your fingers, but work
fast because the ganache melts easily.

Refrigerate the ganache balls (covered with wax paper) overnight
on a baking sheet. *note* It is best to refrigerate for an hour
or so uncovered, then cover, to keep the paper from sticking.
Also, plastic will trap too much moisture and discolor the chocolates,
so use waxpaper or tin foil.

The next step is to cover the chocolates. Easiest is to roll the
ganache in coconut or crushed cookies or even straight cocoa or
powdered sugar. Hardest, but more traditional, is to coat them
with chocolate.

Easiest is to use "coating chocolate" from a candy-making supply.
Regular chocolate has to be tempered before it can be used for
dipping. You can heat the chocolate over a double boiler, though
I prefer to use a hotplate or heating pad set on the lowest
temperature that will get the chocolate to melt.

Using a fork, lower each candy into the chocolate, then out
again--quickly so as not to melt the ganache. Let the excess
chocolate drain off, then either A) gently push the candy off the
fork with a butter knife or B) quickly drop the candy off the fork
as close to vertical as possible, swirling the chocolate on top
for a very professional look. If you know someone who has made
chocolates before, ask them to let you watch, or look it up in a
book on candy making. It's hard to describe the exact movement.

You can flavor the ganache with a couple of tablespoons of rum,
bourbon, or other liquor, or with your favorite liqueur, or with
tiny bits of grated orange zest or lemon zest or finely chopped
nuts or a few tablespoons of very strong coffee (or instant) or
some candied violet petals or...? My favorites are plain, mint (use
mint extract) and almond (with almond extract and a couple of
tablespoons of finely chopped almonds. Be sure to decorate them
so that the flavors are identifiable. Or don't and surprise


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