Chocolate ganache is a magical kitchen concoction. Itís an elegant cake drizzle (see my Mother's day cake blog), a silky whipped-frosting topping, and a gorgeous truffle interior. Itís versatile, impressive and deceptively easy to make. Ganache is one of those things that everyone should have at the ready. (And now that Trader Joeís carries SHELF STABLE whipping cream, at any time, you can be 5 minutes from a perfect ganache!!)
These truffles can be easily adapted to fit your taste. Craving a little spice? Add ¼ teaspoon of cinnamon or cayenne pepper to the mixture. Need a kick? Add a teaspoon of instant espresso. For a more adult flavor, 2 or 3 Tbs. flavored liquor does nicely. For texture, mix in a couple tablespoons of finely chopped nuts, crispy rice, or toffee. The possibilities are limitless.
Step 1: The Spoons
But the best thing about these little cuties is the presentation. I received these super cute wooden ice-cream spoons in my Christmas stocking from my sister. I wanted to make chocolate nib truffles for Valentineís Day, so the elements all came together for this treat.
Step 2: About Ingredients
Better chocolate makes for better truffles. Considering there are only 2 or 3 ingredients in these truffles, know that your chocolate will be the star. I love Belgian Callebaut semi-sweet chocolate. Itís delish all alone. In a truffle, itís magnificent.
Cacao nibs. You may have seen them in fancy chocolate bars. Basically, they are the Ďmotherí of chocolate products - Nibs are cacao beans that have been shelled, roasted and crushed. Eventually the nibs/beans get pulverized, pressed and mixed with sugar and other ingredients to become what we know as chocolate. The slightly bitter nibs add a rich, lovely, vaguely nutty element to the truffle.
Salt. Itís all the rage to add salt to sweets - the fact that Starbucks has a Ďsalted caramel hot chocolate mixí indicates that the fad may have hit its peak. But truth be told, the salty-sweet combo is legit. Letís face it, we like it, and weíre gonna continue to like it. (See my Toffee Pretzels blog) That said, instead of sea salt, I use a Brava coffee flavored salt (find it online. Iíll show you how to make your own in another blog.). It adds another layer of flavor that really makes these truffles special.
Step 3: Make Truffles
Truffle Ganache Filling
• 1½ C semi-sweet chocolate
• 1 C heavy cream
• 1-2 Tbs. cacao nibs, coarsely chopped
• 2 C chocolate
• 2 Tbs. shortening
• Coarse Brava Coffee flavored salt (optional)
If using bar or chunk chocolate, chop coarsely. Place chocolate in a glass bowl or pitcher. Add cream. Place in microwave, and heat for 30 seconds. Stir with a whisk. Return to microwave for another 15 to 30 seconds and stir again. Repeat heating and stirring until chocolate thoroughly melts, is fully combined and glossy. Voila, ganache.
Note: Be careful not to overheat, as the chocolate can easily burn. Depending on your microwave, the melting process should only take about one to two minutes.
Stir in cocoa nibs.
Allow to cool. To speed up the process, place in a shallow dish and refrigerate.
Step 4: Pipe onto Spoons
In order to pipe the ganache onto spoons, the mixture needs to be thick, but not so firm that it wonít pass through the pastry bag. The desired consistency is like that of frosting.
Place the ganache/truffle mixture into a piping bag, and pipe onto spoons. If you find the ganache is not thick enough, pop into the fridge for a few minutes. If itís too thick, knead with warm hands for a few minutes, and it will loosen up.
Place the piped spoons onto a parchment or waxed paper-lined tray and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
Step 5: Dip into Chocolate Coating
While the spoons are chilling, in a small saucepan, place 2 cups of chocolate, and 2 Tbs. vegetable shortening. Warm on low, stirring constantly until chocolate is melted. Remove from heat, let sit for 5 to 10 minutes.
Remove truffle spoons from fridge, and quickly dip into the melted chocolate to coat, allow to cool on waxed paper or parchment. Do this step quickly, as the warm chocolate can cause the ganache truffle to melt and fall off the spoon! (Learned that one the hard way.) Sprinkle lightly with salt and refrigerate another 5 minutes.
Serve immediately or wrap and give as gifts. Makes 30 to 40 small spoon-sized truffles.
Step 6: Variations
Use larger spoons for a larger Ďbite.í
These truffles can also be made without the spoons. Simply scoop with a spoon and roll with your hands, cool and dip in melted chocolate, or roll in cocoa powder or finely chopped nuts.
Check out my blog for more cool stuff.