Thursday, September 1, 2011

Truffled chocolate truffles

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Chocolate truffles infused with - what else? - truffles (Photo: Lauren Cohen)

A few years ago, very briefly, I toyed with the idea of starting a gourmet chocolate truffle company. That December I turned out dozens and dozens of truffles, which went into lavish gift baskets that ended up in the hands of movie stars' personal assistants' second cousins. Friends ordered boxes of truffles to give to their kids' teachers, mail carriers, office managers, neighbors. Chinese five-spice truffles, vintage port-infused truffles, truffles infused with wild fennel seeds, truffles with dried Bing cherries.

I put my soul into those chocolates. I infused cream and scooped ganache and dusted with cocoa powder late into the night. I learned as I went about packaging, labels, pricing. I truly loved my truffles. They were irregular and rustic, even a little ugly, but with every bite birds sang and mountains moved. I used intense 72 percent chocolate, rolled them in the darkest cocoa powder. Those fennel seeds? I foraged them myself from a secret stand of wild fennel in the Santa Monica mountains. Every truffle had a piece of my heart.

In the end, I couldn't figure out how to keep it personal and scale up to a profitable business. Now I make truffles for friends and for fun, not for money. Which is why I knew I had to find a way to work chocolate truffles into Trufflepalooza. These truffle-infused chocolate truffles started out as a joke, a play on words, but in the end the devastatingly good combination of chocolate and fungus was no laughing matter.

Use a milder dark chocolate (around 60 percent) - any darker and the intensity of the chocolate will overpower the truffle scent and flavor. The million-dollar secret: Add a pinch of truffle salt to the cocoa powder that coats the truffles.

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Truffled chocolate truffles
Think the combination of chocolate and truffles (the fungus kind) sounds weird? Give it a try. It's exotic, dusky and ultra-sophisticated.
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1 pound dark chocolate, chopped (around 60 percent cocoa solids)
  • 1 ounce fresh truffle (black summer truffles are cheapest and perfectly fine for this use)
  • 2 tsp white or black truffle oil
  • 1/2 cup dark cocoa powder (I like Valrhona)
  • 1/2 tsp truffle salt
Combine the cream and chocolate in a large, microwave-safe glass bowl. Microwave on high for 1 minute, let sit for 1 minute, and microwave for 1 minute more. Remove the bowl and stir with a spatula to melt and combine. If there are still lumps of chocolate, continue to microwave 20 seconds at a time, stirring in between, until the mixture is smooth.Grate the fresh truffle into the chocolate mixture. I like the Microplane zester, which creates tiny fine ribbons, but any grater with very small holes should work. Add the truffle oil and stir to combine. Set the chocolate mixture aside at room temperature for two hours to firm up. If the room is really hot you can refrigerate the bowl for a while, but the texture will be better and they will be easier to scoop if you let the mixture set at room temperature. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.When the chocolate mixture is the consistency of cold peanut butter, use a small spring-loaded ice cream disher to scoop ragged, roundish balls of chocolate onto the baking sheets. They absolutely do not have to be perfect; in fact, the more uneven they are, the more they will look like actual truffles when they're done. When you've used all the chocolate mixture, put the baking sheets in the refrigerator for an hour to let the balls of chocolate firm completely.Put the cocoa powder and truffle salt into a large plastic container with a lid. Shake to mix. When the chocolate balls are firm, add a few at a time to the cocoa powder, put on the lid, and shake it a few times to coat the chocolate balls with the cocoa. Put the cocoa-dusted truffles into a strainer and shake briefly to remove the excess cocoa powder. Place the finished truffles on a serving tray. Truffles should be eaten cool but not straight from the refrigerator for maximum sensual pleasure.
Prep time: Cook time: Total time: Yield: approximately 2 dozen 2-inch truffles


Ellisse said...

These sound absolutely delightful! Will definitely be trying this recipe out around thanksgiving!

Nick (Macheesmo) said...

Wowza. That looks insane!

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