Thursday, December 18, 2008

Recipe: Middle-of-the-night Chinese five-spice chocolate truffles

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Last year I started a wee boutique chocolate business, making high-end truffles for a few private clients. It went well -- with just word-of-mouth I got my chocolates into the hands of several celebs via a lovely woman who makes gift baskets for the stars. I hear they were well received. I didn't pursue the business part this year (for logistical reasons), but I'm still making chocolates. I love the smell, mostly, and also how they look in the little bags with their festive twistie ties.

I couldn't sleep last night, so I put up a batch of these Chinese Five-Spice Truffles. The thing I love about truffles is that they're pretty easy to put together and yet they're completely luxurious to give as gifts. I'm handing them out tomorrow at school to all the teachers as holiday gifts.

Chinese Five-Spice Truffles

1 lb excellent dark chocolate, preferably 70%
1 cup heavy cream
2 tsp Chinese five-spice powder
1/2 tsp ground white pepper
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder, for dusting

Break up the chocolate in a glass bowl. Pour over the cream and spices. Microwave on high, one minute at a time, letting stand for 30 seconds and then stirring between zaps. When all the chocolate is melted and the mixture is smooth, let sit at room temperature for a few hours.

When the mixture is semi-solid, about the consistency of thick frosting, scoop or spoon into little balls onto a parchment-lined baking sheet. I use a small (size #100) spring-loaded disher, which works well. Put the baking sheets in the refrigerator for a few hours to firm up. The balls will be ragged and uneven, which is a look I particularly like -- more reminiscent of the fungus for which the candy was originally named.

When the balls are cold and solid, put the cocoa powder in a plastic container with a lid. Drop in a few truffles at a time, put on the lid, shake them around, and then lift them out into a fine-mesh strainer and shake off the extra cocoa powder. This is important -- you want the chocolates to be dusted but not drowned.

And now you're done! I usually put them in little foil candy cups, stick them in a big container, and pack them up as needed for gifts. Always a big hit at parties.

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