Hazelnut truffles

If there's ever an "appropriate" time for making and eating chocolate truffles, it must be now, during the holidays.  This is the moment to make a batch of these little chocolate orbs that exemplify the magic that is chocolate and cream melded together.
A year ago, I made truffles for the first time during Christmas.  I made them plain and flavored some with Grand Marnier.  The truffles made nice gifts, a lovely grown-up dessert at the end of dinner, and a wonderful treat to savor and indulge in with someone special.
This year, I tried the hazelnut variety.  Besides orange and mint, I love nuts, particularly hazelnuts, with chocolate.  Chocolate truffles are little more than chocolate ganache - a combination of chocolate and heavy cream - at their simplest form.  In this case, add hazelnut liqueur in the form of Frangelico, for hazelnut flavor.  Roll the truffles in chopped, toasted hazelnuts to amp up the flavor and to add some texture.  If you prefer your truffles smooth all-round, you could simply roll them in unsweetened cocoa powder but I really like the chopped nuts in this case.
These truffles are dark, rich, slightly nutty, and smooth (just make sure to bring them fully up to room temperature before serving).  Using a combination of bittersweet and semisweet chocolate (not to mention the liqueur, which isn't over-powering in this recipe) gives them a mature taste.  They're right up my alley since I prefer dark chocolate now that I'm a "grownup", although I must say that I think hazelnut is one ingredient that marries really well with milk chocolate.  But when it comes to homemade truffles, I'd stick with the dark; milk chocolate could be tricky since it tends to stay soft, so you'd need to use less cream to chocolate ratio, and it could be too sweet for most people.
When I buy chocolate truffles, I love the kind encased in a hard chocolate shell.  I've yet to venture into the daunting territory of tempering chocolate (which you'd need to do to achieve that shiny, hard chocolate coating) and I think I'll leave it to the pros.  But this simple homemade version is also decadent and delicious, a real treat for the holidays.  You can get creative with the toppings.  I like covering the smooth truffles with crunchy nuts to accent the flavor here - it's also an easy alternative to getting that contrast in texture (plus, it keeps your fingers clean too).
I suppose that aside from Christmas, truffles are great for Valentine's Day too (another lovely holiday and one that will be here before we know it!).  I also packed a few of these truffles for a friend's birthday.  Makes me feel like a little candy maker!

Now that I've hit "publish" on nearly 200 posts, I want to keep baking and blogging in a way that keeps it fun and interesting for me, without it feeling like work.  To that end, I'm going to scale down the nitty gritty, step-by-step, kitchen process details a great deal.  When I first started, I captured most of the steps involved with a recipe, partly so I can look back and remember how, say, the batter is supposed to look or which mixing bowl I used and when.  Now that I have a lot more practical experience thanks to this blog, I don't think we need yet another picture of melted chocolate anymore, although I will continue to highlight any unusual steps or parts of a particular recipe that I think worth discussing.

I don't know how The Pioneer Woman does it but I find that I enjoy cooking/baking a lot more when I'm not occupied with getting a decent photo along the way.  I want to enjoy the process of creating the food - although capturing those last finished shots and having a beautiful picture of something I made from scratch is pretty neat. 

So that's my update for the day.  To that end, please note that you can find some more detailed truffle making description in my previous post

Recipe:

I used Ina Garten's recipe for these hazelnut truffles. 

A few notes:
- If you don't happen to have prepared coffee on hand and do have instant espresso powder in your pantry, add 1/2 teaspoon of it to the chocolate and increase the amount of cream by a tablespoon.  The coffee enhances the chocolate flavor; it will still be good without it.

- I did need to set my bowl of chocolate and cream over a pan of barely simmering water for a couple of minutes for the mixture to melt completely.  Be careful not to get water into the chocolate.

- In case you're worried about the Frangelico, it isn't excessive in this recipe at all.  It's there but not overwhelming so I'd be generous, particularly if you do not intend to roll your truffles in chopped hazelnuts.

- I used a melon baller, scooping each truffles roughly 2 teaspoons full in size.  The recipe says this recipe makes 20 truffles but I'd say it's closer to 15 or 16 at that size.  Since truffles are so rich, a little goes a long way so you could make them more on the dainty side for a larger yield. 

- I store the truffles, covered in an airtight container, in the refrigerator.  Before serving/eating, make sure to remove the truffles from the refrigerator well in advance (up to a few hours depending on the temperature in the house) so they have a chance to fully come to room temperature.  Otherwise, they will be too hard and the hazelnut flavor won't come through.





2 comments:

  1. I was surprised by how it wasn't that hard to temper chocolate (no pun intended). It's just like candy making where you have to pay attention to the temperature. It's a bit of work, but worth it if you're making a ton of whatever you're dipping in it.

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  2. Alyssa, I think you make croissants from scratch so we might have a different idea of what's hard or not! ; )

    Do you actually get the shiny, hard, doesn't melt coating when you temper? That would be so amazing! When I use chocolate for dipping or coating, I just do it the Ina Garten way of roughly melting 3/4 of it in the microwave and then adding the rest so it doesn't get too hot. Not enough for making truffles but seems to hold off the blooming on "regular" things.

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