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Homemade chocolate truffle report (long)

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Homemade chocolate truffle report (long)

La Dolce Vita | Mar 16, 2006 04:09 PM

A few months back, I decided I would attempt to make chocolate truffles at home. My mission was to find a very chocolatey, not-too-sweet confection with a creamy consistency. I wanted a basic recipe that I could use as a base for flavored truffles such as raspberry, amaretto, hazlenut or coffee.

First, I went online and looked up Robert Linxe’s recipe. Linxe says that his truffles contain a special, proprietary blend of chocolate. There was no way I would capture this secret flavor profile at home, but that was okay, I figured I could still make a decent truffle if I used an excellent chocolate, such as Scharffenberger.

Next, I consulted Francois Payard’s Sensational Desserts. His recipe for Armagnac Truffles calls for light corn syrup (which contains glucose and fructose) in addition to the Armagnac. At first, I was skeptical about adding corn syrup, but it turns out that Payard is on the right track.

Finally, I looked in CIA’s Professional Chef, 7th edition. The authors recommended adding unsalted butter and glucose to make a creamier truffle.

All three of these basic truffle recipes (Linxe’s, Payard’s and CIA’s) started with a simple mixture of heavy cream and chocolate—a firm ganache, in other words. Interestingly, each chef varied the proportions of chocolate-to-cream ratio. For every gram of chocolate, Payard called for .96 g of cream, Linxe .67 g, and CIA .50 g.

I decided to compromise between Payard and Linxe, so I used .72 grams of cream for every gram of chocolate. (I realize that the more cream, the softer the truffle, and in the future, I might try Payard’s proportions.)

I made a basic truffle mixture (see directions below), using ultrapasteurized heavy cream and Scharffenberger semisweet (62% cacao) dark chocolate.

I divided the mixture between four porcelain bowls. I set the first bowl aside—I added nothing to it. To the remaining bowls, I added either softened unsalted butter, or glucose, or a combination of both, following the proportions recommended by CIA. I let all the bowls cool in the fridge overnight. Next day, I scooped them out into the classic truffle shape, keeping track of what each truffle contained.

Then came the taste test.

My husband, who eats Scharffenberger straight, liked the plain cream-and-chocolate mixture the best. My children preferred the one with glucose—probably because it was a shade sweeter than the other combinations. Their second-favorite was the butter-and-glucose.

My personal favorite was the butter-and-glucose mixture. It had, in my opinion, the best texture and mouthfeel. It was creamy and delicious, and very chocolately. My second-favorite was the one with butter.

My next project is to make a truffle that is a combination of mostly dark chocolate, with some milk chocolate thrown in (probably a ratio of 66% semi-sweet, 34% milk chocolate, since this is the proportion I prefer for ganache frosting). I also plan to add liqueur and/or nut pastes, maybe a scraping of a fresh vanilla bean, and coat the truffles in tempered chocolate and/or cocoa powder.

In the meanwhile, I thought I’d share my preliminary results and recipe with fellow Hounds who are in search of a heavenly, homemade truffle. If anybody catches errors, or makes improvements, please post your results or email me. I’d be interested to hear about it.

Here is my basic recipe. I apologize to those who don’t own a scale that I’m giving this in metric weight. I’m math-challenged, and doing it in grams was the easiest way to calculate the proportions. The addition of glucose and butter are my personal preference—you can omit one or both of them and still get a great truffle. I don’t know what would happen if you substituted corn syrup for the glucose—probably nothing.

200 g semi-sweet chocolate (I used Scharffenberger 62% cacao)

144 g heavy cream

36 g glucose

36 g unsalted butter, which must be very soft but not melted.

Finely chop the chocolate. (I broke it into smaller pieces with a chef’s knife and finished chopping it in the food processor.) Transfer the chocolate to a metal or glass bowl.

Heat the cream to boiling and pour it over the chocolate. Stir to incorporate. The chocolate should melt and combine with the cream. If it looks a bit grainy at this point, don’t worry. Add the glucose and softened butter, and stir. The mixture should now become creamy and smooth. If the butter doesn’t incorporate fully (this happened to me), gently heat the mixture over a double boiler and stir until it is smooth. Cover with plastic, and cool it off in the fridge. I let mine stay there overnight. When it is firm enough, scoop it out with a spoon or a small sorbet scoop, depending on how large you like your truffles. I recommend keeping them small and dainty because they are very rich. Every picture I’ve seen shows them looking somewhat irregular and craggy, like the truffles that grow in the ground. But I prefer the smooth spheres. It’s easier and less messy to wear latex gloves and roll them around in your hand to make them more spherical.

At this point, you can coat them in tempered chocolate, or simply roll them in dutched cocoa powder. I did them in just the cocoa powder, since it was quicker. The truffles turned out great.

I stored mine in the fridge for a week (I think the flavor improved over time), and now they’re in the freezer for longer storage. I prefer to let them warm to room temperature before serving.

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