Ever since I was in middle school, I’ve been trying to figure out the best approach to a chocolate truffle recipe. The sugar bombs I made back then used sweetened condensed milk and chocolate with minuscule amounts of cacao. They’d probably taste cloying and, well, gross to my adult palate, like a Three Musketeers bar would. But I think I’ve finally nailed every element, down to my most common mistakes.
Over the course of at least a dozen years of trials & errors with various types of chocolate, fat ratios, and even thickness of chocolate bits, I’ve gotten my chocolate truffle recipe down to a science.
Anatomy Of A Truffle
A chocolate truffle is basically an emulsion of chocolate and cream, called a ganache, coated in something. Some chocolatiers coat their chocolate truffles in more chocolate, but the classic French variety dusts the morsels in cocoa powder. In fact, this is where they got their name, as the little chocolates resembled the black truffles famously hunted each summer in the French countryside. Our recipe below uses cocoa powder, as well as alternatives like cacao nibs or coffee powder.
While a basic truffle recipe is just chocolate and heavy cream, if you’re vegan or sensitive to dairy, you can also use coconut milk or a milk alternative. Just make sure that your creamer has the same percentage of fat as heavy cream, which is between 34-38%. But the key to this chocolate truffles recipe is to source really good chocolate, and ideally a craft chocolate with no more than 3 ingredients.
Since the flavor of the chocolate you use is basically the flavor of the truffles, it’s important that you find one you really like. If you can handle soy products, a chocolate which has “soy lecithin” on the ingredients list isn’t necessarily bad. Just remember to chop up whatever chocolate you use very well, as the small pieces need to be relatively uniform in order to melt evenly. Read my post on baking with chocolate for more tips.
If you’re not sure where to buy high quality chocolate, I’ve written a post on where to buy craft chocolate online. I promise, your taste buds will thank me later.
- 4 Tablespoons heavy cream (or coconut cream at 34-38% fat)
- 4oz/112g dark chocolate (or high-percentage milk chocolate)
- Powder for dusting at finish (cocoa powder is best, but cacao nibs or superfine ground coffee also works)
- Optional: 1/4 t. sea salt and 1/2 t. vanilla extract
- The instructions for truffle-making are relatively similar to those for making chocolate sauce, insofar as the process for heating and combining the ingredients. But there are a few issues you may run into during the process, so I've made note of those below. First, get your cutting board and a very sharp knife. Measure off or weigh how much of the bar you need, and put that onto the board. Chop the chocolate across, so that it splinters like in the picture below. Pieces should measure no more than 5mm across and be quite thin.
- Measure out 4 tablespoons of cream into the large bowl and heat it in the microwave for 30 seconds on high, depending on the power of your microwave. Once the cream is heated to hot but not scalding, immediately pull it out of the microwave and add in the chopped chocolate in a thin layer.
- Let the ingredients sit for 3 minutes. This allows the chocolate to slowly melt rather than being burned or mixed together while at very different temperatures. If it doesn't sit for a bit, the fat and the solids will begin to separate, and it will look like curdling milk.
- After your three minutes are up, stir vigorously with your spoon to combine all of the liquids and the solids. Within about 15 seconds, your chocolate mixture should start to look like the shiny liquid in the bowl below. If you like the flavor contrast of salinity, consider adding a dash of salt to your mixture before stirring.
- But if your chocolate ever looks like the pictures below, stop what you're doing and grab a hand blender. This oily appearance is a result of the cocoa butter (cocoa fat) separating from the cocoa solids. You need to blend your mixture on high for at least 30 seconds until it fluffs up. You'll know it's done once the mixture looks like a chocolate frosting (and smells like a chocolate truffle), like in the image above.
- Put your mixture into the refrigerator for 30-40 minutes before you start forming the truffles. The chocolate needs to set and harden a bit so that it's workable and will hold its shape.
- Now is the kid-friendly hands-on part! Use gloves if you can, and roll out balls of the truffles in any size you'd like. At my house we prefer about a tablespoon. Once all your truffles are rolled out, it's time to coat them in more flavor; this is where your powders come in.
- Place your flavors of choice in separate bowls to roll each truffle in. I like to blend different powders to create different flavors; my current favorite is a mix of 4 parts cocoa powder, 1 part finely-ground coffee, and a dash of cinnamon. Keep in mind that the first flavor you place on your tongue will affect everything else you eat for at least several bites, so decorate wisely.
- Once you've rolled them all out, your truffles are ready whenever you are!
Don't forget to lick the bowl!
- Keep an eye on the cream so that it doesn't start cooking in the microwave or on the stove. If it's still not warm enough, heat it in 5-second intervals until it's quite hot, but not burning or cooking.
- Only decide to use milk chocolate if you prefer a sweeter truffle, or if that's just all you have laying around. Chocolate chips do work fine for this, but they still need to be chopped up into smaller pieces.
- If you choose to add salt, only use super finely-ground salt, as any sea salt you use will end up in chunks, and you never want to bite into a chunk when you're expecting a smooth ganache.
- While you could use a white or ruby chocolate in this recipe, those types of chocolate are made with more sugar than a dark or dark milk, so they would likely taste overly-sweet.
- Have fun with it! The chocolate mixture will also keep in the fridge for a few days, if you don't have time to coat them immediately or want to coat them fresh each evening. Just remember to let the mixture sit at room temperature for at least a half hour before you try to form balls.
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