It’s heartening to realise that the richest, velvety-est, most sinful chocolate truffles you can imagine are very easy indeed to make. There’s no faffing around with tempering or measuring fat/solid ratios – just some melting and chilling.
These dense little balls of silky paradise are full of things that make the animal bits of your brain go tick. The chocolate itself, packed with theobromine, stimulates the release of feel-good endorphins. The creamy, cocoa rush that emerges when they melt fatly on your tongue makes the hairs on the back of your neck stand up. If the way to someone’s heart really is through the stomach, these are the digestive equivalent of a scalpel: precise and potentially deadly.
You’ll need to keep these in the fridge and eat within about three days of making them for maximum freshness. If, unaccountably, you can’t manage to get through this volume of chocolate in half a week, these truffles freeze very well.
To make 50 truffles (depending on how many you find yourself eating as you roll them) you’ll need:
300g good quality, dark chocolate
300ml double cream plus 2 tablespoons
50g salted butter
Cocoa to roll
Start by preparing the chocolate by blitzing it in the food processor until it resembles very delicious-smelling breadcrumbs (see the picture for the sort of texture you’re aiming for). If you don’t have access to a food processor, you can grate it with the coarse side of your grater – this is laborious, but works well. Remove the chocolate to a large mixing bowl.
Using a thick-bottomed pan, bring 300ml of thick cream and the butter slowly to simmering point. I like to use salted butter in a ganache; the small amount of salt is undetectable in the finished product, but it lifts the flavour of the chocolate. Stir the hot cream mixture well and transfer it to a jug.
To make the ganache that will form your truffles, pour the hot cream and butter into the bowl full of chocolate in a thin stream, stirring all the time. The chocolate will melt and combine with the cream, and you’ll end up with a very runny, silky, dark brown mixture. Finish by stirring two tablespoons of cold cream into the mixture (this helps to prevent the mixture from seizing, or becoming granular) until the ganache is evenly coloured. Cover the bowl and place in the refrigerator to firm the ganache up.
At this point, you have a choice. You can take the ganache out of the fridge and use an electric whisk to beat it to soft peaks about an hour into the chilling time. Be careful not to overbeat to avoid the dreaded seizing. This will result in soft, airy, fluffy truffles, and will also add volume to your mixture so you’ll have more truffles at the end. (You’ll find that many shop-bought truffles are the beaten kind – you need much less chocolate per truffle, so it works out cheaper for the manufacturer.) I much prefer my truffles dark, dense and silky, so I prefer to leave the ganache without beating.
If you are not whisking the ganache, leave it in the fridge for at least four hours or overnight. You’ll find you now have a nice stiff mixture. If you want to add flavourings or bits of nut, citrus zest, crystallised ginger or other spices, now is the time to do it, using the back of a fork to mush any well-chopped additions into the ganache. (Again, I like my truffles dark, dense and above all chocolatey, so I don’t adulterate them.)
Lay out petits fours cases and put a couple of heaped tablespoons of cocoa on a plate. Use clean hands to mould teaspoons of the ganache into balls, then roll them in the cocoa – this stops them from sticking and makes them look tidy. Place each one in a little case. Those feeling daring can roll their truffles in crushed nuts, shredded coconut or demerara sugar instead of cocoa. Presto – you’re finished. I think these are at their absolute best with a hot cup of freshly brewed coffee.