For the ganache middle:
1 lb good quality bittersweet chocolate
1 cup heavy cream
2 T light corn syrup
2 T butter, softened
2 T brandy, cognac, rum, cointreau, or other liquor to your taste
For the enrobing chocolate:
1 lb bittersweet chocolate
~2 cups cocoa powder
For the ganache middles:
Cut the chocolate up into small pieces and put in a bowl. Meanwhile, combine the heavy cream and the corn syrup in a small saucepan and bring to a boil. Pour the hot cream over the chocolate pieces and let sit, uncovered, until the chocolate is mostly melted, about 3 minutes, then stir to combine and any remaining chocolate lumps should melt away. Add the butter and the liquor and stir until everything is well combined. Pour the ganache onto a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper and allow it to “set up” or harden slightly and lose its shine.
Fill a pastry bag and pipe out the truffle centers. Here’s how to do that:
Once you have all of your middles piped out, place the cookie sheet, uncovered, into the refrigerator until the centers are completely firm, at least an hour.
The next step is to “enrobe” your centers, or dunk them in melted chocolate. You could just melt chocolate and dunk away, but if you want that characteristic crisp shell around your truffle you have to temper your chocolate. Tempering chocolate means that you have to heat the chocolate up to a temperature high enough to break the chocolate molecules and then cool it down to a temperature where the molecule start to form again in the shape that you want them, in this case truffle-shaped. At least I think that’s how it works. Here is an article from Fine Cooking magazine that explains the food science behind tempering chocolate.
How to temper chocolate:
You’ll need an instant read thermometer
1. Break your 1 pound of bittersweet chocolate up into small pieces and place in a glass bowl.
2. Microwave on High in 30 second increments until the chocolate is mostly melted, stirring at every stop. Then, switch to 10 second increments.
3. When the chocolate is melted, start taking its temperature at 10 second increments until it reaches between 110º and 120º. This is where the chocolate crystals break.
4. Next, you have to cool the chocolate down to between 91º and 87º. There are two ways to do this: stir and take the temperature every 10 seconds until the chocolate cools off on its own, or add “seed” chocolate. This is chocolate that has already been tempered and hardened again, and speeds the cooling process, but I am guessing that if this is your first tempering experience, you don’t have any seed chocolate laying around, so stir.
5. When the chocolate hits 91º it is “in temper” so start dunking! To do this, I drop a ganache center into the chocolate and press it down with a fork to completely coat it. Then, lift it out on the fork, let the excess chocolate drip off and drop into the cocoa powder. Toss GENTLY to coat and then use a slotted spoon to remove the truffle to a parchment-lined cookie sheet to continue to harden, no touching for at least 5 minutes.
6. Repeat until all the ganache centers are enrobed or you get bored – whichever comes first!
This is messy and it takes a while but there are an infinite number of variations – change up the liquor in the ganache, or try rolling the truffles in toasted ground nuts or coconut – or both! So much more fun than going to the store and buying someone else’s creativity, don’t you think?!