When we think of chocolate desserts, we often think of elaborate confections best left to professionals.

But there is at least one chocolate dessert that anyone can do at home: chocolate truffles.

Truffles are essentially chocolate ganache rolled into balls. Ganache itself has two key ingredients: chocolate and heavy cream, warmed together until the mixture is smooth and silky. Once chilled, scoopfuls can be rolled into balls and flavored with various coatings, such as chopped nuts.

There’s no baking, and no special equipment or skills required.

It’s a process that’’s as easy as it is fun. Even kids can get in on the action.

Truffles don’t have added sugar, and the portions are potentially small, as long as you don’t eat too many. These also are super-chocolaty, so you will feel as if you’ve gotten your chocolate fix after eating only a couple.

Part of the fun part of truffles is customizing them with different coatings. You can use the same recipe to produce the truffle, but significantly change the flavor by choosing a different coating, such as almonds, pistachios, colorful candy sprinkles, or chopped peppermint candy.

Here are a few tips on making chocolate truffles sure to impress your Valentine:

  • Because there are so few ingredients in truffles, it’s worth splurging for good-quality chocolate. For best results, choose pure chocolate. Some recipes will call for chocolate chips, which will work, but chips contain added stabilizers, which can lead to a gritty texture when melted.

Finely chop the chocolate to ensure quick melting.The cream should be hot but should not be boiling, and the microwave is fine for this. If the cream is too hot, it will cause the cocoa butter to separate from the chocolate, and that can make the chocolate feel greasy instead of silky. You can put cinnamon sticks or cardamom pods in the cream for a different flavor. Just strain out the solids before adding the cream to the chocolate.

A little butter makes the truffles richer and creamier, but it also makes the mixture stickier and harder to roll. If the mixture is very sticky, trying scooping out rough portions then refrigerating the portions for a few minutes to dry them a bit and firm them up more.

  • Most truffles are about two bites. Consider about 2 teaspoons for each truffle. A large melon baller does a good job of scooping the mixture and creating a good-size truffles.
  • For rolling the truffles, many cooks wear plastic gloves to keep the mess off their hands.

Then rolling the truffles, don’t worry about making them perfectly round, just try to make them about the same size. The little imperfections in the shape are part of the homemade charm.

Be sure to cover truffles when refrigerating them so they don’t absorb other fridge odors.

Truffles taste best at room temperature, so remove them from the fridge 30 minutes to 1 hour before serving. Just don’t leave them out in ss sun or in a hot place.

Recipe by Michael Hastings

mhastings@wsjournal.com

336-727-7394

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