|Trio of Truffles|
I had never made truffles before, and as much as they sound fancy and intimidating, I found in my internet research that the recipes looked exceptionally simple. There was even one on the back of the Ghirardelli chocolate bag (we all know much I love those recipes!), and I thought I missing the other half of the recipe, it was so short. So I chose two favorites - a more simple one from Vanilla Garlic, and a more complex one from Two Sisters.
Let me say that all truffles are essentially the same - a heated cream that is then poured over chopped chocolate (or chocolate chips), mixed until smooth and chilled, and magically becomes the tasty treat called ganache. The details are in what gets added to the ganache, and how you finish the rolled balls (sprinkles, dipping, rolling). So it would be very easy to add just a key ingredient into the ganache or choose a variety of toppings to easily get a variety of these guys to match any mood or time of year. The other thing is that you can change the type of chocolate for the ganache, and add variety that way too.
Here's the Vanilla Garlic recipe:
Dark Chocolate Bacon TrufflesMakes about 30 truffles
1/4 cup + 7 tablespoons of heavy whipping cream1/2 cup of fine chopped bacon8 ounces of 60% or 70% chocolate (chips or well chopped)cocoa powder for rolling
1. Cook some bacon in a skillet until well cooked, but not burnt. Place on some paper towels and press, being sure to soak out all extra grease. Dice into small pieces until you have a 1/2 cup.
2. Place heavy whipping cream in a small, heavy saucepot over medium heat and bring to just under a simmer. Take off heat.
3. Sprinkle in chocolate and cover for 5 minutes, allowing the chocolate to melt in the hot liquid. Stir gently until combined. (This is called a ganache.) Fold in the chopped bacon.
4. Pour into a bowl and cover. Refrigerate for 4 hours.
5. Using your hands dusted in cocoa powder and a teaspoon roll out balls of chocolate about 1/2-1 inch in diameter. Roll in cocoa powder and place on a plate. Store in the fridge. Bring to room temperature before serving.
*It's much easier to roll these with very cold hands. I put a jar or two of water in the freezer when the ganache is cooling. Bring them out when you are rolling. If your hands get too warm, hold the jar and chill your hands so the chocolate doesn't begin to melt.
For the record, I much prefer dark chocolate over milk. So I used half semi-sweet chips and half 60% cocoa dark chocolate chips. And I cooked mainly from the Two Sisters recipe, meaning that I heated the heavy whipping cream in the same pan the bacon cooked in, and had the bacon bits in the cream as it was heating. Where I made the mistake of deviating from their recipe was where I did not strain the bacon bits out when I poured the cream over the chocolate. It made it much more difficult to whisk the chocolate and know when it was smooth.
|melting chocolate with bacon fat|
The Two Sisters recipe also makes a lot of truffles! So if you want to start small, go with the measurements from Vanilla Garlic, or at least halve (even quarter!) the Two Sisters recipe.
Now, I obviously have a curious nature, and wasn't sure which topping version I wanted to do. So I figured I'd ask the hubby what he wanted. He wasn't much help, and I ended up doing 3 (well, technically 4) different topping versions. But all the truffles had hints of bacon at least, in the ganache. The first version was rolled in cocoa powder, like the Vanilla Garlic folks. The next version was dipped in melted semi-sweet chocolate. I also had a version dipped in a melted mixture of semi-sweet chocolate and bacon fat. That's the version I also sprinkled bacon brickle onto some of. (Those followed the Two Sisters recipe, just one I put the brickle on and one I didn't.) The version without the brickle was my favorite of the truffles. It's one of those things where it's hard to figure out exactly what makes it taste so good, but it's got to be the bacon fat, because the truffles dipped in just plain melted semi-sweet chocolate just don't have that something.
|Dipped, with bacon brickle|
The version of the truffle rolled in cocoa powder was definitely the easiest to do, and many people said it was their favorite. But I didn't have unsweetened or dutch-processed cocoa powder on-hand, so I used dark chocolate Ghirardelli hot chocolate powder, which has added sugar, and I would have much preferred a more bitter outer coating. I like my chocolate dark and headed more towards bitter anyway, though (just like my coffee!), so I can see how some people liked the added sweetness.
Side note: as a kid I did not realize that "Baker's Chocolate" meant unsweetened, and tried to sneak a piece out of the cabinet. Let's just say that was a lesson learned in the sneaking desserts book, although I had to learn it all over again with the "Unsweetened Hershey's cocoa powder" that they decided to package almost exactly the same as the hot chocolate powder! Yuck!
|See the pretty sheen of the bacon fat & chocolate?|
The trick to forming the truffles was chilling the ganache just long enough that they'd hold their shape, but not so long that you couldn't form the balls at all. I think 2-4 hours would be the perfect timing. Overnight was definitely too long. In fact, I tried to bring them to room temperature and it took hours, to the point that I just melted the ganache all over again in a double-boiler, and then chilled the ganache in its glass bowl for an hour or so. Then I started dropping spoonfuls of ganache onto SilPats and waxed paper on cookie sheets and chilling them for a few minutes before rolling them into balls.
|rolling the truffles is messy!|
That's it! It probably took you longer to read this post than it would have to make your own!