Do you love chocolate? Do you enjoy creamy, melt-in-your-mouth chocolate truffles, but get sticker shock when you see them in the illuminated "jewelry" cases in boutique candy shops? The ingredients for a perfect chocolate truffle couldn't be simpler, and they're easy to make at home -- no special equipment or culinary training required. Once you learn the basics, you can experiment with shapes, techniques, and flavors.
Truffles have gotten wildly gourmet in recent years with everything from spicy chiles to lavender, exotic salts, and even bacon! I recently had the opportunity to work with a new ingredient, Fennel Pollen, which was provided to me by Marx Foods. Fennel pollen? It's exactly what you probably guessed: pollen harvested from the flowers of fennel plants. Unlike fennel seeds, the texture of fennel pollen is delicate. It has an exquisite anise-like aroma and smooth flavor that is the perfect compliment to dark chocolate. I'm not typically a fan of anything remotely smacking of black licorice, but I would be the first to say that the flavor of the fennel pollen combined with the rich dark chocolate is absolute perfection. The fragance alone, is swoonworthy!
Here's a recipe for how to make your own truffles at home:
SQUARE DARK CHOCOLATE TRUFFLE RECIPE
DUSTED WITH FENNEL POLLEN (OPTIONAL)
(yields approx. 36 truffles)
20 oz. dark chocolate, finely chopped
1 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup butter, cut into small pieces
8x8 baking pan, lined with foil
Baking sheet lined with parchment paper
12 oz. dark chocolate (couverture or candy melts for dipping)
Fennel Pollen, available from Marx Foods
1. In a medium, microwave-safe bowl, add chopped chocolate, heavy cream, and butter pieces. Microwave for 1 minute. Stir. Microwave an additional minute, then stir till thoroughly combined and all chocolate pieces have melted. You now have a chocolate ganache.
2. Pour ganache into strainer, over the prepared 8x8 pan. Use a silicone spatula to help move the ganache through the strainer.
3. Tap pan lightly on the counter to release any air bubbles and distribute the ganache evenly.
4. Freeze for 1 hour (or up to 48 hours).
5. Remove from pan and peel away any foil that has clung to the chocolate. Cut ganache into 1x1 squares and arrange on the parchment-lined baking sheet.
6. Freeze for 20 minutes.
7. Over low heat (microwave or double-boiler) melt the couverture chocolate or candy melts.
8. Remove pan of square chocolates from the freezer. One at a time, using a candy dipping fork, or regular dinner fork, dip squares into chocolate, lightly tapping off excess, before returning to the parchment lined baking sheet. You may need to reheat chocolate a few times during this process. Do not overheat.
9. Once all pieces have been dipped, put remaining chocolate in a ziploc or pastry bag. Snip a tiny opening at one end. Use this to drizzle a few lines across each truffle. Drizzle one at a time, lightly sprinkling with fennel pollen before moving on to the next piece.
10. Once chocolate has set, you can place the truffles in paper cups or other packaging.
The truffles will keep in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.
Once again, I used the 65% Cacao Semi-Sweet Chocolate Callets from Trader Joe's for the dipping chocolate, and was pleased with the results.