Introduction: Easy Truffles

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This is the fastest and easiest recipe for making delicious, perfectly flavored chocolate truffles.  Customize the flavors and toppings to suit your exact tastes.  You'll get hooked on trying to come up with the perfect combinations, and your friends and family will be more than happy to help judge their favorites! 

Today I share with you my experience making a recipe from the Martha Stewart website.  I offer the original recipe, and suggestions on how to make it even simpler and faster.  I hope you have as much fun making these delightful little treats as I did.  I can't wait to experiment with more daring flavor fusions.  Hot peppers, here I come. . .

A small box or bag of truffles makes a great gift.  With this recipe, you'll be able to whip out a batch in no time that your last-minute recipient will be convinced you spent hours on.  No one needs to know!

Step 1: Supplies

The ingredients Martha suggests are as follows:

  • 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons heavy cream
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cardamom
  • Five strips 1-inch-wide orange peel, pith removed
  • 8 ounces semisweet chocolate, finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup confectioners' sugar
  • 1/4 cup sifted cocoa powder
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped assorted nuts, such as walnuts, pecans, and pistachios

To simplify I suggest replacing orange rind with a splash of juice, if you have it around, and cardamom for your favorite seasoning that you also happen to have around.  I found those to be the two ingredients that left me with stuff I had to figure out how to use up.  (Yes,  in the end, I just ate the orange.  But I prefer Satsumas.)  In the end though, I admit, the cardamom added a killer flavor, and I'm excited to find ways to use it up. 

Also the heavy cream can be replaced with evaporated milk, giving you the ability to replace some of the fat as well!

Step 2: Cardamom!

Of course you can buy ground cardamom.  But if you're like me, someone will convince you that pods will be far more rewarding.  So if you've got yourself some pods, read on.  If yours is already ground, then, well, I think you should read on anyway, but it's really up to you.

This is what I learned about cardamom.

It grinds up really well in a coffee grinder.  But you have to remember to remove the pods from the seeds before you pulverize it into tiny bits. 

So after I found that out, I discovered that one good whirl in the grinder is enough to separate the pods from the seeds.   Remove those bad boys and whirl away to your heart's content!

Step 3: Orange Step

Again, this step is fun, but adds more precious minutes to what could otherwise be a super-quick recipe.  But if you're the type that has oranges around, get ready to dig into one, cause you're about to make it naked.

Peel off four or five good strips of rind.  Of course, you want to avoid the white flesh underneath, as that's the part that makes it bitter.

If you don't have an orange, but do have orange juice, that is a viable alternative. 

Step 4: Combine Liquids

Now put your heavy whipping cream (or condensed milk) into a saucepan. 

Whisk it together with your freshly ground podless cardamom and your lovely orange peels.  Or throw in a dash of your favorite spice and a splash of oj.  You know, whatever's easiest.

Bring it to a boil, then turn off the heat for 15 minutes.  While you're waiting, get the next step ready!

Step 5: Combine With Chocolate

Put your chocolate chips in a bowl and place a mesh sieve over them.  Or some cheesecloth, or a regular strainer / colander deal.  Pretty much, you just want to make sure you catch all the rogue bits of cardamom and orange peel.  If you substituted out those ingredients, you can skip the sieve altogether.

Once you've waited the 15 requisite minutes, Martha tells us to bring the mixture back to a boil, then pouring it through the sieve over the chocolate pieces and stirring to melt.

I don't know why she wants us to boil the liquid and then wait 15 minutes and then boil them again.  I really question how much this extra time allows the flavors to all steep together.  Next time I make this, I will skip that part.  We want this to be fast and easy, right? 

Step 6: Stir Stir Stir!!!!

Stir the hot cream into the chocolate chips with vigor!  Your goal is a nice, creamy, shiny, smooth chocolatey blend.  Hopefully you won't have to stop in the process to take pictures, which might result in a slightly lumpy, less-than-perfectly-melted outcome.  Delicious nonetheless.

Pour your mixture immediately into a pan to cool.

In fact, let's put that pan in the freezer to get things moving along.  Fifteen to 20 minutes will do.

Step 7: Prepare Toppings

While your tasty centers are firming up in the freezer, let's get their delicious dressings ready to go. 

I chose pecans (because I had them in the fridge), confectioner's sugar (because I suspected that would be my favorite), unsweetened cocoa (because that's pretty traditional), and pistachios (because I thought the green color would be cool.  It was.)

Get that grinder back out and mash up your nuts.  Or go at them with a knife.  The grinder made them a little finer than I really wanted.  Next time I'll put them in a plastic bag and smash them into tiny bits with a wine bottle.  (Hey, use what you've got, right?)

The cocoa and powdered (confectioner's) sugar should be sifted before use to get rid of their inherent lumpiness.

Step 8: Rollin' Rollin' Rollin'. . .

Now is the moment of glory you've been waiting for.

Remove the pan from the freezer when the chocolate is firm but malleable.  Use a spoon to scrape chocolate into a ball, about 1" is good, but I won't judge you if you like them bigger.  It's a lot of chocolate to take in all at once though, so use your best judgment. 

I had to coax my spoonfuls of chocolate into little balls.  They did not magically form for me like Martha tacitly promised.  After a little hand rolling (unless you can make the magic happen - and if you do, I want pictures!), place them in another dish or on a cookie sheet and send them to the fridge for a bit before dressing.

After about ten minutes in the fridge (plenty of time to finish preparing those toppings if you didn't before), it's time to dress them!  Roll them in the toppings to cover them, and place them back on the cookie sheet or dish, grouped by topping.  I say this, because I did not do that, and most of my truffles became hybrids of their original intentions.  But cocoa/powdered sugar was still good.  

People didn't like the green ones like I thought they would.  I should have told them it was pistachio first, and maybe they wouldn't have been so put off by the color.

As I suspected, the powdered sugar ones took the day.

What will your most popular topping be?

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