My friends Ben & Heather (who are the only other true Chowish people I know), came over to help me do a trial run of making chocolate truffles today. Well, Heather helped...Ben watched and tasted and commented, which in it's own way was helping. :)
I think I mentioned before that I'm going to make them as gifts for Easter for the greeters to hand out at our small church of 120 people. I've been asked to make 200 of them, since we do tend to get visitors on Easter. I doubt we'll get 80 visitors. Nonetheless, 200 it is...and the thought is daunting! *gulp* So I thought we'd make a dozen today, just to see how it went, learn from our mistakes, etc. I decided to make the large, domed truffles as they look gorgeous and make a lovely presentation when given in a little clear treat bag, tied with a ribbon. (The boxes are nice, too, but too expensive for our purposes.)
It all went surprisingly well. I experimented with the ganache, making one with chocolate and cream and the other with butter in it, and different proportions of cream to the chocolate. I used Ghirardelli 60% chocolate chips for the ganache. The one with the butter won hands down. I used too much cream in the first one and the ganache was too soft. It's a great chocolate dip now for apple slices, pretzels...fingers. :) The 60% chocolate is a nice compromise for a crowd of folks who are used to Hershey's. (Don't even get me started.) My son, who prefers milk chocolate (where did I go wrong??) deemed them to be more than acceptable, as he chomped on the sample truffle I gave him, so I knew we were on the right track.
I know there are people who will shudder at this, but I decided to not mess around with the process of tempering "real" chocolate. If I was only going to make this dozen, then I would have, and it's something I'd like to learn to do sometime. But for 200 truffles, I knew it would be too much to deal with, and I didn't want the added stress. So for this trial run, I bought Wilton's Premium Dark Chocolate Melts for the coating. The 3 of us (who are all lovers of fine-quality dark chocolate) concurred it wasn't nearly as bad as we thought it would be. I wouldn't eat the disks out of hand as a treat, but once melted and used as coating for a rich ganache, it was OK. For the batches for Easter, I'm going to use the Guittard melts as they are supposedly the best in the price range. (The Felchlin molding chocolate I'm sure is far superior, but it's $15 a pound, and I need over 6 pounds, so I'm not going there.)
We had fun using the dome molds, learning how to paint them with the coating, adding a small nob of ganache, then filling with the coating, chilling, etc. When we popped them out of the molds, they instantly looked professional, shiny, beautiful. Then, using a squeeze bottle -- that was fun! -- we piped some melted lavendar-colored melts in very thin stripes over the top and our truffles looked quite elegant. Ben declared that Heather and I should go into business and sell them for $3.50 a pop. I just want to get through Easter first. :)
P.S. I'll try to take pictures when we do the real thing in a couple of weeks. We're going to do some with lavender stripes and some with pastel green...to be Eastery, of course.