Friday, May 2, 2008

Truffles aren't a trifle to make

Mention the word 'truffle' and two thoughts might filter through your mind: an expensive chocolate treat or a mushroom. Interestingly, one was inspired by the other.

Chocolate truffles originated in France and featured a mound of ganache - chocolate and cream - rolled in chocolate. These globs resembled the highly sought after mushrooms. Thus, the sweet treat earned the same name.

Stories concerning the invention of the chocolate truffle attribute its discovery to famous French food expert Auguste Escoffier. Reportedly, one of his assistants poured hot cream over chunks of chocolate instead of into a bowl of sugar and eggs. And thus, ganache was born.

In the U.S., the truffle is often confused with any cream-filled chocolate. The two candies are nothing alike. Truffles feature balls of ganache covered in expensive chocolate.

Truffles make a classy gift, especially when they are homemade delicacies. A popular choice is the Champagne Truffle. The following recipe makes 24 delightful pieces.

Champagne Truffles
  • 1 pound quality bittersweet chocolate, broken into pieces
  • 8 ounces heavy cream
  • 1 ounce unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 ounce Cognac or 3 Tablespoons champagne
  • 1 pound bittersweet chocolate
  • 1 pound cocoa powder

Note: The champagne can change the consistency of the ganache, but the mixture will still form easily into balls.

Bring cream to a boil, stirring to prevent scorching. Pour over one pound of quality bittersweet chocolate. Beat in butter. Cool to set. Beat on medium speed until light. Add cognac or champagne.

Pour mixture into a pastry bag with a 1/2 inch plain tube and form mounds of the ganache on wax or parchment paper. Refrigerate until set.

After the centers have set, melt another pound of bittersweet chocolate. Sift cocoa into a pan. Dip balls into the melted chocolate and then place in the cocoa, rolling until coated. Once set, place truffles in a strainer and shake gently to remove any excess cocoa powder.

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