I know, I know, I was a bit of a chocolate tease leading up to Valentine’s Day. Now that my kids are no longer walking petri dishes and my domestic situation is again tranquil, I’m here to make good on all of the talk.
Leading up to Valentine’s Day, Mudslinger and I were discussing what to do for Mudhoney. I entertained the idea of ordering truffles from our fave chocolate shop, The Chocolate Fetish, in Asheville, NC. Trust me, you won’t go wrong there, but Mudslinger wanted to make something in the kitchen. Like me, she enjoys the process of creating sometimes more than the product. I couldn’t think of a nicer way to spend an afternoon with my sweet daughter than making chocolatey Valentine’s treats for her daddy, my Mudhoney.
I dug around the internet and ultimately decided on this recipe from Alton Brown. Let me preface by saying these truffles are delicious. This was my first attempt at homemade truffles and it was definitely a learning experience. I will do a few things differently next time, but more on that later. This is a good, solid recipe with room to be creative. I chose it because it had a lot of positive feedback. And well, it has booze. Enough said.
Let’s get started, shall we? First, we had to get Mudpuppy down for his afternoon nap. We would have loved to have included him in the chocolate making, but this toddler seems to have recently acquired a dozen extra hands whose purpose is to destroy anything in their path.
10 oz. bittersweet chocolate
3 tbsp. unsalted butter
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 tbsp light corn syrup*
1/4 cup brandy
1/2 Dutch process cocoa powder, you could also use chopped nuts or toasted coconut for coating
8 oz semisweet or bittersweet chocolate, chopped fine
*I was curious as to why this ingredient was necessary. It seems that the corn syrup is there to improve the texture of the ganache as well as to increase shelf life (which isn’t an issue in my house.) I should mention that this is not the same as the evil high fructose corn syrup. I am curious though, if substituting honey would work.
Place the 10 ounces of chocolate and butter in a medium size glass mixing bowl. Microwave for 30 seconds. Remove and stir, and repeat this process 1 more time. Set aside.
Heat the heavy cream and corn syrup in a small saucepan over medium heat until simmering. Remove from the heat and pour the mixture over the melted chocolate mixture; let stand for 2 minutes. Using a rubber spatula, stir gently, starting in the middle of bowl and working in concentric circles until all chocolate is melted and mixture is smooth and creamy. (If you don’t want to give booze to your kids, now is the time to set some ganache aside.) Gently stir in the brandy. Pour the mixture into an 8 by 8-inch glass baking dish and place in the refrigerator for 1 hour.
For the next part, I invited Drunk Mama and the kids over for a play date. I needed to keep Mudslinger and Mudpuppy out of the kitchen if possible.
Using a melon baller, scoop chocolate onto a sheet pan lined with parchment paper and return to the refrigerator for 30 minutes. OK, so the melon baller did not work. I couldn’t get the ganache out of it. Perhaps it is because I need a better tool and not the cheap one from the neighborhood super market. If you have a melon baller that works well, I’d love to know what brand it is. I ended up scooping out the ganache and forming it by hand.
I hid the ganache in the refrigerator overnight. The next afternoon, I sent Mudhoney on an errand to procure Valentine’s treats for the kids, got Mudpuppy down for a nap, and Mudslinger and I set to work.
Place the cocoa powder, nuts, and/or toasted coconut each in its own pie pan and set aside. I only used plain cocoa powder in one container, and mixed cayenne pepper with the cocoa powder in another.
In the meantime, place the 8 ounces of chocolate into a medium mixing bowl which is sitting on top of a heating pad lined bowl, with the heating pad set to medium. Depending on the heating pad, you may need to adjust the heat up or down. Stirring the chocolate occasionally, test the temperature of the chocolate and continue heating until it reaches 90 to 92 degrees F; do not allow the chocolate to go above 94 degrees F. If you do, the coating will not have a nice snap to it when you bite into the chocolate. Once you have reached the optimal temperature, adjust the heat to maintain it. I am definitely going to give this a try next time. I melted my chocolate in a double boiler and it was difficult to keep it at a consistent temperature.
Remove the truffles from the refrigerator and shape into balls by rolling between the palms of your hands. Use powder-free vinyl or latex gloves, if desired.
Dip an ice cream scoop into the chocolate and turn upside down to remove excess chocolate. Place truffles 1 at time into the scoop and roll around until coated. Then place the truffle into the dish with either the cocoa powder, nuts or coconut. Move the truffle around to coat; leave truffle in the coating for 10 to 15 seconds before removing. In the meantime, continue placing the chocolate-coated truffles in the cocoa or other secondary coating. After 10 to 15 seconds, remove the truffle to a parchment lined sheet pan. Repeat until all truffles are coated. Allow to set in a cool dry place for at least 1 hour; or store in an airtight container in the refrigerator. Truffles are best when served at room temperature.
By the end, Mudslinger was so enraptured by the chocolate, she was of no help. “Can I lick the scoop, can I lick the scoop Mommy? Mommy? When can I lick the scoop? Please? Mommy? Can I have some chocolate too? Its not fair that only Daddy gets treats for Valentine’s day.” Repeat ad nauseum until I’ve broken down and give her her own bowl of chocolate and a spoon. Mudslinger is blissfully stoned on chocolate and I can finish coating the truffles.
Mudhoney would have been thrilled with his gifts regardless, but the truffles really were fantastic. We preferred the plain chocolate shell to the cocoa powder coating and we both agreed that the cayenne should go in the ganache and not in the coating. I will definitely be making these again. I have begun a list of other cocktail inspired flavors to try; Irish coffee, Patron Chili Lime, Toasted Almond, as well as a few without booze. Now that I’ve finished writing this, I really wish I had some left. I may have to make some additions to my grocery list.