Friday, December 22, 2006

hazelnut truffles

hazelnut truffles

I confess that I roll my eyes a bit at the overhearing of some new truffle recipe. I don’t mean to over-simplify them — yes, fabulous chocolatiers from time to time find new ways to flavor, construct or adorn these decadent orbs of Awesome — but it all simmers down to the same thing: they’re just firm ganache, and ganache is just melted chocolate mixed with cream.

If you, like us, feel that tiny truffles are nothing short of the most transcendent and uplifting vehicle for chocolate consumption, you should make them because they’re ridiculously easy. Plus, unless you’re buying yours at $2.50 apiece, they’re pretty much always better homemade.

Pour some boiling heavy cream over chopped bits of chocolate in a bowl in an approximately 1:1 ratio, as in once ounce tablespoon of cream to one ounce of chocolate. Whisk them together. Add your flavorings of choice — a flavored liquor, splash of extract, spoonful of coffee, pinch of spice or some combination of the above — let it firm up in the fridge, either scoop out pieces or pipe it into mounds, then rolling it into your topping of choice, pop one in your mouth and say aaah.

oh, it's a mess alright

Why the big demystification today? Because I finally made some, and really, rolled my eyes at myself for not doing it sooner. All this means is that I no longer have an excuse not try out The Great Robert Linxe’s delights. Still, latex gloves? Inherently scary.

Four more things: I used Ina Garten’s hazelnut truffle recipe, because I just love those flavors together but obviously you could replace that liqueur with any other for a flavor you’d prefer. I rolled them in unsweetened cocoa instead of chopped nuts out of personal preference, but anything from coarse sugar, chocolate shavings, ground candy canes to small sprinkles could make these more festive and less, er, discomforting in their appearance. Finally, although we have all noted before how tiresome it is when a recipe implores us to use “good” this or “quality” that, since truffles are nothing but a magnifying glass for chocolate, the expensive stuff really comes through when you make these, in a way that Nestle’s toll house chips will not. Prices making you ill? Replace just half with the gourmet treats. Finally, I did the scoop and roll in your hands thing but I’m totally piping them next time. Seems less messy and I love that little mounded shape.

Alas, I am not even close to done cooking or posting for the weekend, but I suspect most of you are done reading. Have a fantastic, relaxing and delicious holiday; I’ll be right here when you get back.


Hazelnut Truffles
Adapted from Ina Garten

1 cup hazelnuts
3 1/2 ounces bittersweet chocolate
3 1/2 ounces semisweet chocolate
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 1/2 tablespoons hazelnut liqueur (such as Frangelico)
1 tablespoon freshly brewed coffee
1/2 teaspoon good vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.

Chop the hazelnuts and place them on a sheet pan. Roast them in the oven for 10 minutes. (If the hazelnuts have skin on them, roast them for 25 minutes.) Set aside to cool.

Chop the chocolates finely and place in a bowl.

Heat the cream in a small saucepan until it boils. Immediately pour the hot cream through a fine-meshed sieve into the bowl with the chocolates. With a wire whisk, slowly stir the cream and chocolates together until the chocolate is completely melted. (If the chocolate doesn’t melt completely, place the bowl over a pan of simmering water and stir for a few minutes just until it melts.) Whisk in the hazelnut liqueur, coffee, and vanilla. Cover and chill for 45 minutes to 1 hour until pliable but firm enough to scoop.

With 2 teaspoons or a 1 1/4-inch ice cream scoop, make dollops of the chocolate mixture and place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Refrigerate for about 15 minutes, until firm enough to roll into rough spheres. Roll the chocolate in the chopped hazelnuts and chill again.

Do ahead: Truffles are best when they’re allowed to set overnight in the refrigerator.


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