Holiday truffles: A can’t-miss method for candy novices

The ratio of chocolate to cream has to be just right.

Chocolate truffles are simple confections, but they are “surprisingly difficult to get right,” said Raquel Pelzel in Cook’s Illustrated. Our goal was to come up with a method that would be foolproof even for a rookie candy-maker.

A basic truffle is essentially melted chocolate and cream. But the chocolate-to-cream ratio has to be spot-on. “Otherwise, the truffle will be either overly dense or too soft to hold its shape.”

After some experimenting, we found that adding butter and corn syrup helped keep the truffles smooth. To combat graininess, heat the chocolate and cream separately, then use an old chocolate-maker’s trick: Let the mix—or ganache—cool at room temperature for two hours before refrigerating it. Finally, we cut the chilled ganache into small squares and shaped them into balls by hand, dusting our fingers in cocoa powder to keep from smearing the chocolate.

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Recipe of the week

Hazelnut-mocha truffles

2 cups (12 oz) bittersweet chocolate, roughly chopped

½ cup heavy cream

2 tbsp light corn syrup

2 tbsp Frangelico liqueur

1 tbsp espresso powder

Pinch salt

1½ tbsp unsalted butter, cut into 8 pieces and softened

Dutch-processed cocoa

1½ cups finely chopped hazelnuts

For ganache, lightly coat an 8-inch-square baking pan with vegetable oil spray. Take 2 long sheets of parchment and fold so that their width matches that of the pan. Lay parchment sheets in pan perpendicular to each other, with extra hanging over edges. Push parchment into corners and smooth.

Microwave chocolate in a bowl at 50 percent power, stirring occasionally, for 2 to 3 minutes, until mostly melted; set aside. Microwave cream in measuring cup until warm to touch, about 30 seconds. Stir corn syrup, Frangelico, espresso powder, and salt into cream. Pour the mix over the chocolate.

Cover bowl with plastic wrap, set aside 3 minutes, then stir with a wooden spoon to combine. Stir in butter, one piece at a time, until fully incorporated. Using a rubber spatula, transfer ganache to the prepared pan and set aside at room temperature for 2 hours. Cover pan and transfer to refrigerator; chill for at least 2 hours.

For coating, sift cocoa through fine-mesh strainer into a bowl. Sift again into a cake pan and set aside. Transfer chopped hazelnuts to another cake pan and set aside. Gripping overhanging parchment, lift ganache from pan. Cut ganache into 64 one-inch squares (8 rows by 8 rows). If ganache cracks during slicing, let it sit at room temperature briefly and then proceed.

Dust hands with cocoa to prevent ganache from sticking and roll each square into a ball. Transfer balls to the cake pan containing the sifted cocoa and roll to evenly coat. Shake each truffle to remove excess coating, then roll them in hazelnuts. Transfer coated truffles to an airtight container. Cover container and refrigerate. Let sit at room temperature for 5 to 10 minutes before serving.

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