A few months ago, in one of my nightly phone dates with Charles, the topic of Valentine’s Day came up. Since we live in Memphis and Cincinnati this year, we were planning to spend the holiday apart, a reality that left me somewhat bummed.
Now, I’m not wedded (pun intended) to the February 14 greeting card extravaganza, but the prospect of spending the night alone was still unappealing. So, after agreeing to acknowledge the occasion on our next visit, Mr. Romance reminded me that Valentine’s Day “is really just a holiday for women to receive flowers and chocolates.” Which, of course, gave me the perfect idea for my Valentine’s gift to Charles: truffles.
I started making truffles years ago in college as a cost-conscious but meaningful holiday gift for friends and neighbors. Indeed, these little orbs of ganache serve as an excellent (and pretty!) treat suitable for any holiday. Or for everyday use, because who can really say no to truffles? And, provided that you have a little patience and a willingness to get your hands dirty, truffle-making is about as simple as it gets. While the foundation of any truffle is a basic ganache, which is a mixture of cream and melted chocolate, the flavor possibilities are endless.
Over the years, I’ve experimented with a wide variety, including classic dark chocolate, espresso, cayenne-infused, hazelnut encrusted, and cognac. Charles, however, is a fan of neither dark chocolate nor coffee, so I opted instead to indulge his affinity for white chocolate with a white-chocolate chai truffle. Who says that women are the sole recipients of Valentine’s Day chocolates?!
Happy truffle making!
white-chocolate chai truffles
PREP TIME: 10 minutes
DOWN TIME: 75 minutes for cooling
COOK TIME: 5 minutes
YIELD: 15 to 20 Truffles
WHAT TO GRAB:
6 ounces high-quality, white-chocolate, chopped (Caitlin likes Ghirardelli)
4 tablespoons heavy cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract (or caviar from 1 vanilla bean)
1/8 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
HOW YOU DO IT:
1. Pour the cream into a small heatproof bowl and place over a pan of simmering water, making sure that the water does not come into direct contact with the bowl. Stir the cream with a wire whisk until heated through (i.e. warm to the touch).
2. Combine the spices in a small mixing bowl; set aside.
3. Stir the white chocolate into the cream until it is melted and smooth. Remove the bowl from the double-boiler, and stir in the vanilla and about one-half of the spice mixture. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and place into the refrigerator to cool for approximately 1 hour. When ready, the ganache should be firm but pliable enough to scoop.
4. Using either a teaspoon or a small ice cream scoop, place mounds of the ganache onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate again, for 15 minutes.
5. Remove the sheet from refrigerator and roll the ganache mounds in the palms of your hands to create rounded truffles. Try to work quickly; the truffles become stickier as they warm to room temperature. Depending on size, this recipe yields about 15-20 truffles.
6. Dust truffles with the remaining spices, cinnamon, or powdered sugar. If you plan to ship the truffles or give them away as gifts, as I did, you can purchase candy cups and boxes from a craft store like Michael’s.
7. Store the finished truffles in the refrigerator, but allow them to come to room temperature before eating.
You can create milk- or dark-chocolate truffles using the same ganache recipe but substituting your desired type of chocolate. When making chocolate truffles, I usually add 1 teaspoon of instant coffee, which contributes to the depth of flavor without adding a discernible coffee taste. You can coat the truffles with toasted hazelnuts, toffee pieces, crushed peppermints, or melted chocolate. The possibilities are endless, and the results are reliably delicious!