Intro: Coconut Cream Truffles
At last, a simple recipe that can make multiple flavors of candy with little to no hassle. One batch of coconut creams can produce several different flavors, it all depends on what you want to do. On average, this recipe makes about 11 dozen richly sweet truffles, enough to last a little while at least.
Step 1: Materials
Gather all your materials before you start so you know that you have everything you need.
2 Lbs Powdered Sugar (have extra on hand, you may need it.)
1 Cup Butter or Margarine, softened to room temperature
1 Can sweetened Condensed Milk (reputable brand, not the cheap stuff.)
2 Cups Flaked Coconut
2 Cups chopped nuts
Flavoring oils or extracts
Food coloring pastes that correspond with flavoring (i.e., strawberry and pink, orange and, well, orange.)
1-2 packages of Almond Bark
Colored Candy Melts
Large mixing bowl
Several Medium sized bowls
Double Boiler or Pan and bowl
Several Cookie Sheets
Refrigerator and/or Freezer
Step 2: Preparing the Work Area
Whether you plan on giving these to a special someone, sharing with your family, or keeping them for yourself, It is important to ensure a clean, safe work area. First off, make sure that you have plenty of room in your fridge and freezer for several cookie sheets, with enough space between them and the shelf above that your truffles won't touch. Clean up your work area -- give yourself lots of space to work with so you aren't pushing things around to make room. Wipe down your surfaces with a warm damp cloth. To be extra safe, spray your counters with a solution of vinegar and water (50/50), to kill any hiding little monsters that are out to make you sick. Now, for the last part: WASH YOUR HANDS. Do so frequently throughout this project, and do a good job, scrubbing for 20-30 seconds. On to the fun part!
Step 3: Combine Ingredients
In the bottom of your mixing bowl, dump in your powdered sugar without making a big powdery mess. You'll need all of what is in the bag, so shake it out well.
Next, take your 2 cups of coconut and pour it into your food processor. If you have a small one, you may have to do it a little bit at a time. Chop up your coconut, just to make them into shorter strands. This makes the final product less stringy and more creamy. Add the coconut to your powdered sugar.
Add your softened butter or margarine to the sugar and coconut. DO NOT soften or melt the butter or margarine in the microwave. It is best to let it sit out for a few hours on the counter. Melting it makes the resulting dough too sticky to work with, and extends the project time to several hours, due to extra freezing time.
Now, open up your can of Sweetened condensed milk. This part is important: DO NOT pour in the whole can and scrape it out. If you do this, it will be too wet and will not set up properly and will be too sticky to work with. Only pour in about 2/3 to 3/4 of the can. Set it aside to use for something else. If need be, you can add a smidgen more if the dough is too dry.
Using your mixing spoon, stir up all of your ingredients as best you can. Try to incorporate all of the sweetened condensed milk. after you have mixed in most of the milk, you'll have to get your hands in there (Please wash them first, just to be on the safe side). Believe it or not, this is a little fun. Mix and moosh it between your fingers until there are no lumps of anything, and it's nice and consistent.
Now, if you are going for a nutty cream, and only making one flavor, add your chopped nuts now and moosh them in. If it is still sticky, you can add a tiny bit of powdered sugar, but refrain from adding very much. Too much sugar and your whole batch will taste like frosting.
Put your bowl in the refrigerator for about 5 minutes, more if it is really sticky. While you are waiting, now is a good time to clean up your mess and do your dishes. If you keep on top of it, it is a less daunting task later.
Step 4: Flavoring the Dough
After the dough has chilled for a while, it should be a little bit firmer. Before you take it out, prep your smaller bowls. The number of bowls you need will depend on how many flavors you want. Three is a pretty good number, and produces a nice quantity of each flavor of truffle. Spray your bowls lightly with cooking spray to help prevent sticking.
Remove your dough from the fridge. Divide it up into your bowls, as evenly as you can. Roughly shape them into balls, by passing them from hand to hand quickly, utilizing the palms of your hands and avoiding the fingers. Poke a hole in the center of your dough. Put them back in the fridge for a minute or two to firm up again if they need it.
Gather up your flavorings and food coloring if you have not already. Strawberry, Orange, and Almond are excellent choices, although you can try whatever you think might work. If you want to try lots of flavors, simply divide the dough into smaller portions. Color the Strawberry pink, the orange, orange, and leave the Almond white. Bringing out one bowl at a time, pour a small amount of flavoring into the little hole you made before. No more than about 1/4 tsp. The more you use, the stronger the flavor, but be careful not to over-do it. The larger your ball, the more you'll need. Now, pinch the top of your hole shut, and start to gently squeeze the ball, kneading it in your palms, folding the ball in half and rotating it, folding it in half again. Do this for a couple of minutes until you think the flavoring has had a chance to become incorporated throughout the dough.
Now to add your color; while it is okay to use liquid colorings, paste is best. Liquid adds even more moisture that has to be combated with when forming the smaller balls. Similar to before, poke a hole in the middle of your ball. put in the hole a little bit of coloring. If you do this right, you won't dye your hands. Again, pinch the top shut and start squeezing the ball, kneading, folding in on itself. The trick is to merge the color into the dough. If you avoid touching the dye directly, it will not stain your skin. Once it is in the dough, your fingers are home free and clean! Return the now colored and flavored dough to the cool safety of your fridge.
Repeat this step for each of your bowls.
Step 5: Forming the Centers
Now it is time to form them into balls or "centers". Line a cookie sheet or two with waxed paper. Bring out just one flavor of dough. Using a regular spoon, scoop out a little bit of dough. Take the dough in your fingers and roll it between the palms of your hands into a nice ball. It is okay if it looks a little football shaped, you can fix that later. Place the ball on the waxed paper, and scoop out some more. Repeat until the dough is all on the waxed paper. Sometimes it gets really sticky and won't form nicely, or you notice a thick film of cream on your palms, time to put it back in the fridge. After they are all rolled up, put the cookie sheet in the freezer.
Repeat will all of your different flavors.
Step 6: Dipping the Centers
On to the dipping! If you have a double boiler, put water in the bottom and put the whole thing on the stove over low heat. If you do not, find a smallish pan, and a glass or metal bowl that fits snugly on top of it. Put a little water in the bottom (not a lot) and place the bowl over top. Place the whole thing on the stove and turn the heat on to low.
AN IMPORTANT REMINDER: CHOCOLATE AND WATER DO NOT PLAY NICE TOGETHER. AVOID ALLOWING EVEN THE SLIGHTEST AMOUNT OF WATER INTO YOUR CHOCOLATE. If ANY water gets in, the whole thing will seize up and turn grainy, and will be no good for dipping chocolates. You have to dump it (which is to say, make something with less aesthetic importance,) and start over. Sometimes you can rescue your chocolate by stirring in a spoonful of shortening, but this is unpredictable.
If you aren't in a hurry, go ahead and break your almond bark into large chunks and put them in the bowl. If you are less patient, you can help it along a bit (or at least keep busy) by chopping the bark into finer pieces.
Stir the chocolate every so often until it is smooth. Add a smidgen of shortening to thin it out a little. You don't have to do this, but it makes dipping easier, and balances the ratio of cream to chocolate nicely.
Get out another cookie sheet and cover it with wax paper. (this should be the last one, since you can reuse the others by simply flipping over the wax paper after you remove the centers.)
Working with just one flavor at a time, take out a few centers and put them on a plate. Leave the rest in the freezer. Working QUICKLY, drop in a center and roll it around with the dipping spoon until it is all covered. Lift it out and flip it over onto the wax paper. To add a little finesse, you can make a little swirl in the chocolate with your spoon.
Repeat with remaining balls, keeping the different flavors separate. To help you keep track of what is what after they are dipped, you may find it helpful to place the bottle of flavoring you used on the sheet with the truffles. If you totally lose track, peel a few of the truffles off the paper and look at the bottom. Some of them will have thin bottoms and may even be pushing cream out.
Step 7: Cleaning Up the Bottoms
You will notice that the bottom of the truffles are sometimes very thin, or have popped out completely. To clean this up, dip the bottom of your truffle into the chocolate again, then return to the cookie sheet. If you end up with lots of extra chocolate that oozed all over the bottom, you can trim it down with a sharp knife. The trimmings you can just melt back down. Where possible, avoid doing this as it tends to give the truffles sharp angles, which disrupts the smooth finished look.
Also, as is prevalent in almost every batch, a couple of the truffles will have tiny holes that didn't get covered with chocolate. The cream "weeps" or oozes out of these holes. You can just eat them, or wipe the excess up and re-dip them if you so wish. Odds are, no one will look at the bottom of the truffle. They'll be too busy eating them.
Step 8: What's What?
This is where it pays off to keep track of what flavor is where. If you enjoy surprises, go ahead and skip this step, where we not only make it easier to differentiate what is what, also adds a bit of finesse to the final truffle, and make them look more colorful and appealing to the eye.
For each flavor of truffle, you will need a different color of candy melt. You will not need a lot, however. It is best to color coordinate the tops with what is inside. (Pink for Strawberry, Orange for Orange, White for Almond). However, in the past I have mixed and matched, using lavender-colored candy melts for the almond.
Pour some of your candy melts into a glass cup (coffee cups work well), and microwave for about 30-40 seconds. This can vary, so keep an eye on it. When it is almost all melted, take it out and stir it. The heat will distribute and smooth it all out.
If you want to control your designs and pipe out hearts or swirls, then scoop the candy melts into a piping bag with a really small round tip. If you don't really care, then simply smooth the candy melts down with a bit of shortening, and drizzle it all over the tops of the truffles with a spoon. Carefully you can flick the spoon and swing it around to spread it around in thin strings, but be careful not to make a big mess. If you do make a mess, clean it up right away before the candy hardens.
Repeat for each flavor of truffle.
Step 9: The BEST Part: Eating Them!
Everyone's favorite part! Eating their hard work! This batch makes a lot of candy, so share the wealth! Anyone who tries them will be very impressed with your work, and be begging you for more.
Store in an airtight container (will last longer in the fridge. How long is undetermined, seeing as they never last very long at all.)
A couple of hits and tips:
Find clever ways to package them. Try Goodwill around holidays for cute baskets and tin boxes.
To look extra professional, place each truffle in small paper muffin cups.
If your chocolate does get water in it and you can't rescue it, no worries! You can still use it for something else. Melt it down nice and smooth. Don't add any more shortening. Stir in Rice Krispies or other dry cereal until it won't take any more, but is all coated in chocolate. Dump onto wax paper, or scoop out with a spoon and drop onto the waxed paper. Voila! Homemade Crunch bars. Sort of. This is also a good use for that little bit of leftover chocolate after a project.