Monday, August 21, 2006

Mint Chocolate Truffles

Everyone should try making truffles at least once in their lives. They are delicious and dead easy to make.
Essentially, all you have to do is combine chocolate and heavy cream in a heat-proof dish (I tend to use glass bowls) and melt them together. Once the mixture - called ganache - is smooth, it is chilled slightly until it is firm and easy to handle.
One thing that I do to make the process easier is that I melt the chocolate and the cream in the microwave, rather than on top of a double boiler. You have to take your time - working in intervals of a few seconds - but the whole process only takes a minute or so.
When everything is mixed together, I refrigerate the ganache. It can be made a few days in advance and kept cold in the refrigerator, then warmed slightly to room temperature to make shaping the balls easier. Speaking of the balls, I find it very difficult to shape them by hand, so I scoop the ganache into a ball with a teaspoon and use a small knife to turn it out into a ball. The shape can be adjusted slightly once it is covered in cocoa and is less sticky.
Adding peppermint makes these taste a lot like the York peppermint patty candies, but any flavor of extract (or none at all, if you like things very chocolaty) can be substituted. Vanilla is a nice option, as is cinnamon, but feel free to get creative with any flavors you like.
The truffles can be stored in the refrigerator, but should be eaten at room temperature for the best flavor and texture.

Mint Chocolate Truffles
8-oz bittersweet chocolate, chopped
1/4 cup heavy cream
1 tsp peppermint extract*
cocoa powder

In a medium glass bowl, combine the chocolate and the heavy cream. Melt the two together, whisking frequently, until just smooth. This can be done by placing the bowl over a small saucepan of gently simmering water, or by putting the bowl into the microwave on high in 10 second intervals, whisking between each.
Whisk in peppermint extract.
Chill at least 30 minutes.
Remove from refrigerator and let the ganache soften until it is easy to work with. Form teaspoon-sized balls (using a teaspoon and a small knife to shape them) and roll in cocoa powder.
Makes about 24-28 truffles, depending on size and whether you sample any ganache.

*Note: You could use more, if you want a mintier flavor, and you can substitute just about any other kind of flavoring, too.