It seems like quite a lot of people have asked me at one point or another for a recipe for chocolate truffles and up until now I’ve always said how easy it was and told them to look one up on the internet just like I did when I started. After a quick look around I’m not sure if anyone does it the same way as I do and, detrimental to my career though it may be, it seems like a good idea to add mine to the recipes going around. I do think it is the easiest method though, so it would be mean spirited of me not to share. The fact that this coincides neatly with my friend Mike putting together a “how to cook for your girlfriend gallery” on AOL is also not entirely coincidental. So, without further ado, here is how to make the most unbelievably brilliant yet ridiculously easy attention grabbing present you’ve ever seen.

How to do it

The basis for a chocolate truffle is ganache… no, hold that thought, a chocolate truffle is ganache, just rolled out and coated with stuff. So really the recipe to make the perfect chocolate truffle is the recipe to make the perfect ganache plus a little bit of fiddling around at the end.

Simply put, ganache is a mixture of chocolate and something wet (typically cream) that is allowed to set. By increasing or decreasing the amount of liquid you can change the consistency from as liquid as cake icing (and very delicious icing it makes too) to something really quite dense. With a chocolate truffle you want to aim somewhere in the middle, you know best how you like your chocolate; the quantities in the recipe are hardly fixed. Try out the recipe first and, if you find it too firm then use more cream and if you find it too soft then use less.

Simple Cream Ganache

1 cup of whipping cream (250 ml)

14 oz of your favourite dark chocolate (400g)

That’s it! Easy, huh?

First off you need to make yourself a double boiler (or look smug and skip to the next step if you already have one). Have a quick rummage around your kitchen until you’ve got a saucepan and a heatproof bowl that fits snugly over the top of it. Fill the saucepan with hot water, put the bowl over the top and then put it on the stove on a low heat. If the water starts to boil and make the bowl on top rattle around then turn off the heat for a few minutes; don’t worry, the hot water will keep the heat on the bowl whilst the heat is off the pan… if it was boiling then it was too hot anyway.

Put the cream in the bowl of the double boiler and let it heat gently until it reaches roughly 100 degrees F (40 degrees C), you can tell with a thermometer or by sticking your finger in and seeing if it feels warm; body temperature is around 98 degrees C so that gives you a good measure to judge by. While the cream is heating up break up the chocolate into as small chunks as you can and once it reaches the right temperature pop it all in. Leave it for a few minutes until you can see the corners of the chocolate start to melt off and mix with the cream and then gently stir the mixture until it’s evenly combined and all the chocolate is just melted – it should look smooth and like it’s almost shining from the inside – then take it off the heat and pour it into another bowl that you can leave it to set in. If your house is particularly hot then you can leave it in the fridge, though at this time of year it’s much better just left out in the kitchen with a cover over the top to stop errant fingers and spoons.

Making perfect ganache is all about being careful and patient, not culinarily gifted, just take it slowly and you’ll have the easiest impressive thing you’ll have ever made. The only important point is to not let the chocolate get too hot, if it does it’ll spoil the texture of the finished truffles. Very basically, by heating as gently as possible you melt the chocolate and keep its “temper” or crystallisation state, which will give your chocolate a better texture, nicer shine and longer shelf life (not that it will need it) if you’d like to know more then pop “tempering chocolate” or something like that into a search engine and see what comes up.

Simple Chocolate Truffles

a batch of ganache

something to roll the truffles in, cocoa powder, chopped nuts, chocolate flakes, toasted oats… use your imagination

About 8 hours or so after you’ve made your ganache it should be ready to roll out. Take two teaspoons and spoon as much of the ganache out as you would like, move it from one spoon to the other to form it into something vaguely round and then drop it into the coating. Roll the little lump around until it’s all coated and then put it on a plate or board or something to set for a bit. Repeat for the whole mixture and you should have about 60 little truffles looking all lovely and delicious. They’ll be a little bit soft to the touch for the next couple of hours so they’re best left to set a little bit on the outside first before eating all of them or putting them in boxes, but apart from that, you’re done!

Don’t forget though that this recipe is only a beginning. Like I said at the start “the quantities in the recipe are hardly fixed,” so go and have a play with them. Add a little bit of your favourite drink into the ganache and take out a little cream and see what happens. Add a little bit of honey or maple syrup and see what comes out. Wrap the ganache around little blobs of peanut butter (it’s possible, I promise) or try to make it into fun shapes (that’s tougher than it sounds), but above all, make the recipe your own.

Saying, “I made you some chocolate truffles, I found the recipe online,” is all well and good, but it’s nothing close to

“I made you some chocolate truffles, it’s a recipe I created just for you.”

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