Happy Hanukkah, Happy Kwanzaa, Merry Christmas, Happy New Year! (And Chocolate Truffles!)
I’ve been away quite a while, so I wanted to make sure I got all of my holiday wishes in there. With a new year, hopefully, comes an opportunity to blog again, now that my life is somewhat settling into order.
Lots of things happened since we last met. Biggest of all is I moved. Now that I’m settled into the new digs, I have a new (and unfortunately much smaller) kitchen, but I’m learning to work with it. (For now, anyway–I’ll be moving again in a few months.)
I also received an awesomely nerdy, foodie Christmas gift that I’m so excited to share with you! (If you follow me on Instagram or Twitter, you may already know what this is!)
For those who don’t know, I’m a HUGE Wizard of Oz fan, and when I saw this apron in a local shop, I *had* to have it. So there it was, waiting for me on Christmas morning, thanks to Kevin’s brother! Now I can pretend I’m on my way to Oz AND stop ruining my good t-shirts!
Anyhow…back to the food: what did you guess I’d be making with that big batch of chocolate ganache I showed you last week? If you guessed I’d make it into truffles, good for you! Or, you follow me on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter and already saw what I made. If not, then 1) you should follow me and 2) let me know what you guessed, because I’d love new ideas!
I did indeed make a big batch of Christmas truffles (I gave them away as gifts because Kevin has a huge family), but you could make these any time of the year, and add any flavors or toppings you want.
For my Christmas truffles, I just made a basic chocolate truffle and rolled them in crushed peppermint, cocoa powder and cinnamon (think spicy Mexican hot chocolate), but you could totally add different extracts–or booze–to infuse a new flavor in, and you can roll them in just about anything you want: colored sugar, powdered sugar, spices, nuts, espresso, etc.
(P.S. Some flavor infusion ideas/substitutions: mint extract, coffee extract or strong espresso, Kahlua, rum or rum extract, Bailey’s, raspberry liquor, orange liquor, mint or cinnamon schnapps)
*NOTE: This recipe yields roughly 100 truffles (give or take depending on the size you make them.) I tripled and adapted an original recipe I had found on allrecipes.com (I had a LOT of family to feed!) If you feel like that’s a *tad* too many truffles, go ahead and halve it, third it, whatever.
Basic chocolate truffles (adapted from Allrecipes.com)
36 ounces of good chocolate*
3 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp salt
1. Add cream and 1/3 to 1/2 the chocolate to a medium saucepan. Bring to medium heat, stirring constantly. Add the rest of the chocolate in gradually, stirring until smooth. **Watch this carefully, as it can burn quickly.**
2. Once the chocolate mixture is smooth, remove from heat and whisk in the vanilla and the salt.
3. Transfer ganache to a medium bowl and refrigerate 1-2 hours (or more if necessary–you want it solid, but scoopable.) Stir halfway through, if possible.
4. Once ganache is cooled, scoop out small sections and roll into a ball. Roll in desired topping and refrigerate again to re-solidify.
Don’t fret if they’re not perfectly spherical. The perfectionist in me wanted perfect, round, restaurant-quality truffles, but the realist in me (the half that was already getting frazzled and realized it was the day before Christmas Eve) wanted as stress-free of an experience as possible. And you know what? Not stressing over making them perfect was the best decision I ever made. Because it simply wasn’t going to happen, and I would’ve made myself crazy. Besides, imperfection is beautiful!
*Note: I used Ghirardelli chocolate, half bittersweet and half semi-sweet. You can use all bittersweet or all semi-sweet or another ratio based on your palate. You may need to add sugar to taste, as well. I also used a combination of chocolate chips and chopped up chocolate bars to ensure an even consistency.
If you want to roll your truffles in peppermint, you’ll need to make a peppermint powder, basically. This could be done the old-fashioned way withe a mallet or rolling pin and a zip-top bag, but I found a Magic Bullet (or food processor) works much more efficiently. Throw in some whole peppermint candies (or broken up candy canes), whir for a few seconds and, voila! Peppermint powder.
By the way, if you have extra of this, keep it. It mixes nicely into hot cocoa or coffee, or you can use it in place of sprinkles on ice cream and other desserts! YUM!
And there you have it! These make great gifts, or a decadent treat for any occasion. And even though these are super easy to make, there’s an elegance and sophistication associated with truffles, so everyone will think you’re simply amazing for making these from scratch! (No one has to know how insanely simple it was!)
If you want to give these as gifts, like I did, find a pretty little box, some fun tissue paper and some festive mini paper cupcake (or candy) cups. I got boxes at the dollar store that were shiny and Christmasy, along with sparkly tissue paper. (Just make sure if you’re using something sparkly that there’s either tissue or paper cups between the truffles and the sparkles, or else you’ll end up eating glitter.)
Or, of course, you know, you could always NOT give these away and keep these rich little gems for yourself. (I’m in full support of that option!)
So, again, I hope everyone had a Happy Hanukkah, Happy Kwanzaa, Merry Christmas and Happy New Year! I’ll see you around more in 2013!