Valentine's truffles

COOKING 101

Cooking 101

February 14, 2007|By Kate Shatzkin | Kate Shatzkin,Sun Reporter

As the complex taste of dark chocolate gets more attention, the stakes have been raised for the box of candy so many lovers are giving and getting today. To impress, you've got to know the ratio of cacao to sugar and the forest that provided the beans.

Then again, you could make truffles flavored to your sweetheart's taste as a Valentine's Day project.

You won't need many ingredients. Truffles start with a basic mixture of good-quality chocolate and cream, says Jan Bandula, master pastry chef and chef instructor at Baltimore International College.

Warmed cream gently melts the chocolate into a ganache that forms a truffle's center. Once the ganache is chilled, formed into balls and chilled again, it's ready for a shell, which comes from a separate batch of chocolate that has been "tempered."

For tempering, you'll need a chocolate thermometer. Reserving some pieces, melt chopped chocolate by stirring gently in the top of a double boiler with simmering water in the bottom, taking care not to heat the chocolate above 118 degrees. Remove the chocolate from heat and stir in reserved pieces until the temperature falls to 84 degrees.

Roll the ganache in the tempered chocolate. Once that rolling is done, you can add your own touches -- chopped nuts, cocoa powder or other toppings -- and present the truffles in mini baking cups.

kate.shatzkin@baltsun.com

BITTERSWEET CHOCOLATE TRUFFLES

MAKES ABOUT 90

13 / 4 cups heavy whipping cream

2 pounds plus 2 ounces bittersweet couverture chocolate, very finely chopped (divided use; see note)

Dutch-processed cocoa powder for rolling

Place cream in a 2-quart wide saucepan over medium heat until it just comes to a simmer. Remove from heat and immediately sprinkle 1 pound chocolate into cream. Cover and allow to sit for 5 minutes; the heat should melt the chocolate. Stir very gently until smooth. Pour mixture into a shallow bowl. Cool to room temperature, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until firm, about 4 hours.

Coat your hands with cocoa powder and roll ganache into 3 / 4 -inch balls. Place in a single layer on a jellyroll pan and refrigerate until very firm but not intensely cold (from 15 minutes to 2 hours).

Temper the remaining chocolate (see directions above). Line a jellyroll pan with aluminum foil, shiny side up, smoothing out any wrinkles, or cover the pan with a piece of acetate.

Dip truffles in the melted chocolate or roll in chocolate between your palms, making as thin and even a coating as possible. Place truffles on the prepared pan. Refrigerate until firm. Place in fluted paper cups, if desired, and serve at room temperature.

Note: Couverture chocolate contains at least 32 percent cocoa butter. It's often found in specialty baking shops.

From "Truffles," by Dede Wilson

Per serving: 70 calories, 1 gram protein, 6 grams fat, 3 grams saturated fat, 5 grams carbohydrate, 1 gram fiber, 6 milligrams cholesterol, 2 milligrams sodium

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