Truffles, true rolled ganache tossed in cocoa powder truffles, are without a doubt one of the simplest sweets to make. Most people hear the word “truffle” and think of bon bons. The difference being that bon bons are either dipped or encased in a shell of chocolate. Bon bons are absolutely more difficult to make than truffles. You have to temper chocolate, dip or prepare molds, and prepare the filling. Its messier, more technically demanding, and just not something that I enjoy doing. Rolled truffles however are the kind of thing you could make while half watching a Cold Case Files marathon or FaceTiming your mother. I used to pretend that truffles took more effort to make than they actually do as I worried their impressive effect would be lost if people knew how simple it was to make them. But then I came upon this recipe and decided that the flavor is impressive enough on its own. I don’t need to trick people into thinking I spent an evening in the kitchen. All thats needed is planning. Simply allow time to steep the cream overnight, and then to bring your truffles fully to room temperature before serving. This gives them an unbelievably “how-are-these-not-melting-they’re-so-fricking-soft” texture.
These are seriously sexy food. So sexy that I made them for my anniversary as a way to end the night on a decadent but not heavy note. These are great for times when you want to indulge but don’t want to be weighed down, if you catch my drift. There is a reason that chocolate truffles are ubiquitous with Valentine’s Day.
Why do I call them “balcony fresh?” Because I made these guys lemon verbena flavored from some lemon verbena that I’ve been growing on my balcony. Clearly.
For this recipe you can use corn syrup or honey but I prefer to use a special ingredient called invert sugar. (If you’re a food or chemistry nerd you should really read the Wiki on invert sugar. Fascinating stuff.) Invert sugar is basically the fine patisserie version of corn syrup. I made my own by boiling water, cream of tartar, and sugar together. Invert sugar is thicker than corn syrup and contributes to a dense yet creamy and smooth ganache. It’s sweeter than sugar and the acid (the cream of tartar) in it helps prevent sugar crystals from forming (or reforming) in your sweets. It does all of this while also slowing down moisture loss and maintaining freshness. I make it a quart at a time as it lasts infinitely in the fridge. It makes a marked difference in this ganache but honey and/or corn syrup can be used in a pinch. The honey will alter the flavor.
Quick recipe for invert sugar:
You’ll need a medium non reactive pot, pastry brush, and a candy thermometer.
2 cups sugar
1 cup water
1/8 tsp cream of tartar
- In a medium non reactive pot gently stir all three of the ingredients together on medium heat until it reaches a boil.
- Stop stirring. Using a wet pastry brush and more water as needed wipe away any sugar crystals on the side of the pot. Do not stir anymore after this point.
- Bring mixture to 237°F. Turn off heat, cover, and allow to cool to room temperature before refrigerating indefinitely.
Great! Now that that’s all set lets get to makin’ truffles.
The recipe I used for the ganache is taken from ecole chocolat a professional chocolate school. I tweaked the amount of lemon verbena, as I wanted to showcase that flavor.
1 cup plus 3 Tbsp (9.5 oz.) heavy whipping cream
1/3 cup plus 2 tsp (3 3/4 oz.) invert sugar or 1/3 cup honey/corn syrup
1 cup dried whole lemon verbena leaves
9 oz. dark chocolate, finely chopped and at room temp
5 Tbsp (2% oz.) unsalted butter, room temp and completely softened
plus cocoa powder for rolling.
- In a small pot mix together the cream, invert sugar/honey/corn syrup, and lemon verbena leaves. Stir occasionally and bring to a simmer on medium heat. Remove from heat and store in fridge overnight to allow the cream to take on the lemon verbena flavor.
- In a glass bowl place your butter and chocolate together.
- Strain the leaves out of the cream infusion directly into a small pot and bring to a simmer. Immediately pour the hot cream over the chocolate and butter. Allow to sit for 30-60 seconds. Whisk together until the ganache comes together. Signs that this is happening are that the liquid and solids meld into one and the ganache looks smooth and glossy. It will be quite runny at this stage.
- Cover with plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator for 2 hours.
- Remove from refrigerator and using a tablespoon scoop out balls of the ganache. Roll them with your hands to smooth them and toss them in cocoa powder.
- Allow minimum of one hour (preferably two or three) to let these beauts come up to room temp. They are melt in your mouth soft and supple at this stage. Did I mention this is seriously sexy food?