I’ve made and given my share of edible gifts. Those gifts have included all manner of cookies and jam. They’ve included pickled tomatoes and chutneys. And chocolate bark and holiday granola and peanut brittle. But nothing—nothing—has elicited oohs and aahs like truffles, the ultimate edible gift.
Perhaps even better, those oohs and aahs were relatively easily to induce. Because making truffles is a lot easier than you’d think. Especially if you skip the dipping.
Let me explain.
Your basic truffle is a ganache center dipped in chocolate, to make a hard chocolate outside. Ganache is basically chocolate that’s been melted with a little cream such that, when it hardens, it’ll be softer than before. And in the case of a truffle, that ganache is flavored, typically, but not always, with some kind of booze. You vary the truffles by varying the flavoring—cognac is traditional, but you can use, for example, orange liqueur to make orange truffles, coffee liqueur to make coffee truffles, whiskey for whiskey truffles, peanut butter for peanut butter truffles. Et cetera.
So then, to make a truffle, you make ganache by melting chocolate with some cream and a flavoring, you chill the ganache until it’s hard enough to form balls, then you dip those balls in more melted chocolate, all of which makes a hard chocolate coating around a soft, flavored, chocolatey center.
But—the dipping part is laborious. It’s messy. And if you want to do it right, you have to temper your chocolate. Tempered chocolate has been melted in such a way that when it re-hardens, it’ll have a beautifully shiny (as opposed to matte) surface and a crisp snapping (as opposed to thudding) sound when it breaks. To temper chocolate, you heat it to a certain temperature, cool it to a certain temperature, slightly heat it again, then hold it at that temperature while you use it. If it goes out of temper, you have start over again. It can be pretty nerve-wracking. Suffice to say that unless you’re well-versed in tempering gestalt, it’s a #$#%@ pain.
And even if you forgo tempering, dipping is still laborious and messy.
What to do?
Make my Easy, Inspired Truffles, that’s what! Wherein you skip the dipping and simply roll your flavored truffle center, or ganache, in a coating. Like cocoa powder or sparkling sugar. Like chopped nuts, chopped dried or freeze-dried fruit, or instant espresso. Coconut flakes, chopped candied ginger, or crushed cookies. Or jimmies or sprinkles or whatever else strikes your fancy.
Lest you think the simpler, rolled truffle is less thrilling than its chocolate-dipped counterpart, let me inspire you with some creative combinations of ganache and coatings.
Coffee liqueur-flavored ganache balls, for example, rolled in instant espresso powder are amazing. But what about those same ganache balls rolled in powdered milk mixed with a little cinnamon? Café latte truffles!
How about orange-flavored ganache rolled in chopped almonds and orange zest? Orange almond truffles!
How about rum-flavored ganache rolled in chopped raisins? Rum raisin truffles!
Or ganache streaked with melted marshmallows, then rolled in crushed graham crackers? S’more truffles!
Of course, there’s also absolutely nothing wrong with peanut butter-flavored ganache rolled in chopped peanuts, raspberry liqueur-flavored ganache rolled in crushed freeze-dried raspberries, or the classic Cognac-flavored ganache rolled in cocoa powder.
Still ooh- and aah-inducing.
Ready to roll? Here’s the recipe for Easy, Inspired Truffles