Sunday, October 26, 2008

Dark Chocolate + Raspberry

Life is like a box of chocolates: you never know what you're going to get. Your life, however, is like a box of active grenades!

— Stewie Griffin

Truffles were a shock to me the first time I made them. Looking in those temperature-controlled cases in the chocolaterie, they seemed impossible for the average muffin. It wasn't until I discovered the Laboratory for Chocolate Science that I considered the possibility truffles could be within my reach. (And may I take a moment here to make a plug for the LCS, by the way?) As it turns out, they're orders of magnitude easier that I thought. They do require a fair bit of chilling and some tempering, but nothing close to what I'd imagined.

Truffles have the added bonus of being almost universally liked. I have yet to meet somebody who doesn't like truffles. While I'm sure those people exist, they appear to be few and far between. You need, more or less, to just dislike chocolate. Full stop.

I've made a fair variety of truffles, but I keep coming back to raspberry. 1) they're taste-ful and delicious, and 2) dark chocolate has more chocolate in it than semisweet or milk or white (making tempering easier). To be fair, adding little bits of raspberry jam is quite a lot more work than just flavoring the ganache with tea or alcohol or an extract, so if you're trying truffles for the first time this might not be the best choice. But it's almost an identical process if you forget the part about adding jam. (Add the tea bag, alcohol, or extract to the cream before adding chocolate.)

Dark Chocolate Raspberry Truffles
1 cup cream
15 ounces semisweet chocolate chips
1 pound good-quality dark chocolate
Seedless raspberry jam

In heavy saucepan, heat cream on medium until hot; stir constantly. Add chocolate chips, one cup at a time. Remove from heat before chips are completely melted and stir until ganache is smooth and all chocolate is melted.

Cool and place into container suitable for refrigerator or freezer. Place in refrigerator at least two hours, until chocolate is hard. After 10 minutes, check to ensure that ganache is not separating. If so, add warm chocolate and stir vigorously, then cool slowly.

Line a baking sheet with parchment or waxed paper. Using a melon scoop, scrape out balls of ganache (a bit over half the radius of the desired truffle). Roll quickly between palms to form even spheres. Wash hands regularly if ganache leaves excess residue. Place balls on baking sheet; when all ganache is shaped, return to refrigerator at least 30 minutes or until hard.

With tip of finger, make a well in each ganache ball. (The well should go almost all the way through the truffle.) Fill with jam. Return to refrigerator, until hard.

Heat two-thirds of dark chocolate to 105°F. Add remaining third and stir vigorously until chocolate is cooled, 95°F. If chocolate melts too easily, add more and continue stirring. If chocolate drops below 95°F without fully melting, return briefly to heat. Chocolate should achieve a nice shine if it is properly tempered.

Drop ganache balls, one at a time, in tempered chocolate. Using two spoons, cover ball in chocolate. Using spoons, remove from chocolate and drain off excess. Carefully return each truffle to baking sheet. Chocolate should harden at room temperature.

Return to refrigerator and serve cold.

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