I’m a sucker for Christmas music. From Nat King Cole to Mariah Carey, Christmas music gives me the warm and fuzzies. It throws me back to blurry childhood memories of coming in from the cold after a vicious snowball fight and eagerly tumbling over my siblings to get to the first cup of hot cocoa. It reminds me of that fresh pine smell and the way beautifully thick snow crunches underfoot. This time of year is filled with nostalgia, and I’m a fan.
So I don’t waste any time when it comes to getting pumped for the holidays. Although I usually wait for the Thanksgiving dishes to be cleared, this year I couldn’t resist from listening to some Christmas songs in early November. This was not too appreciated by the people on the bus listening to me hum a little too loudly, nor by my boyfriend, who is the Grinch reincarnate. But I don’t care. The past few days have had me in a cookie baking frenzy as I try to wrap up all my holiday gifts, and I couldn’t have done it without the help of Bing Crosby’s familiar soothing voice reminding me that I’ll be home for Christmas.
I make these chocolate truffles every Christmas. Through the years I’ve probably eaten more than twice my weight in ganache, and I’m not complaining. They take a bit of time and a tinier bit of effort, but being able to give these out to family and friends each year makes it all worth it.
Here’s what nobody wants you to know: chocolate truffles are actually the easiest thing in the world to make. Compared to the other cookies on your holiday baking list, these’ll be a breeze.
Chocolate and cream get melted together (ganache, people – silky, smooth, glorious ganache), then it’s chilled and rolled into balls. THAT’S IT. You can add flavorings to the ganache before chilling it, or not. You can roll them in cocoa powder, tempered melted chocolate, chopped nuts, coconut flakes or anything else you can think of. Then you eat ‘em!
All you have to worry about is the quality of your chocolate. Save your Nestle Tollhouse chocolate for chocolate chip cookies and get the good stuff for these truffles – you’ll be glad you did.
I opted for dark chocolate ganache rolled in salted pistachios, and Kahlua dark chocolate ganache rolled in a mix of cocoa powder and espresso powder (I call this people-pleaser the Mocha). The recipe amounts for the variations are enough for an entire batch of truffles, because I made whole batches of both the Pistachio and Mocha truffles, and I’m assuming you’ll be making one whole batch of one as well. Butter is the secret ingredient for that extra melt-in-your-mouth flavor. I like mine to be two-bite truffles (read: golf balls) and few people have complained.
If you want to use milk chocolate, the ratio of cream to chocolate should be lowered to about 1/3 cup cream to 8 oz of chocolate. And if you want to roll the truffles in tempered chocolate, chill the truffles after rolling them into balls then just temper some chocolate and use a fork to dunk the truffles in and roll them around, letting them cool on a lined sheet pan before serving. Feel free to play around with flavors: another favorite is dark chocolate ganache with almond extract rolled in almonds, or Grand Marnier ganache rolled in cocoa and topped with orange zest. The sky’s the limit!
Dark Chocolate Truffles
makes 18 large or 36 small truffles
8 oz semisweet chocolate (I use Callebaut)
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/4 tbsp unsalted butter
4 cups salted pistachios, chopped fine
2 tbsp Kahlua
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1 tbsp espresso powder
Chop chocolate into small chunks that will melt easily and set it aside in a small heat proof bowl. Scald the heavy cream in a small saucepan, just until it foams up around the sides. Pour the hot cream over the chocolate and wait for it to melt for about 30 seconds before stirring it until it’s smooth.
For the Mocha, add the Kahlua and mix until combined.
Cover your ganache and stick it in the fridge until set, about 30 minutes to an hour. If you want it to cool quickly, transfer it to a wide flat bowl, plate, or sheet pan. You can also freeze it to speed up the process, but don’t let it get too hard or it will be difficult to scoop out.
Get a plate with your topping ready. For the Mocha, mix together the cocoa powder and espresso powder on a plate.
When the ganache is set, use a small spoon or scoop to form little balls, then roll them in your hands. If you’re anti-mess, wear gloves. Immediately roll these balls in the topping. Serve right away, or keep them in the fridge for a week, or the freezer for a few months. If freezing, let them sit at room temperature for half an hour before serving.
These make great gifts in little candy liners and wrapped up in boxes or cookie tins.
Congratulations, you just won the holidays.