Valentine’s Day and chocolate just go together—like spaghetti and meatballs or peanut butter and jelly—and it's pretty much all we think about on February 14. This year, we’re taking matters into our own hands (literally) and making chocolate confections from scratch—it's not as hard as you might think. Our friends at Valrhona(Opens in a new window), who know a thing or two about chocolate—they've been producing fine chocolate in a small French village since 1922—developed an easy, at-home chocolate truffle recipe for us (and you) to enjoy.
Valrhona pastry chef Sarah Tibbetts is an expert in the chocolate field (side note: a chocolate field sounds magical, right?) and walked us through the process for making chocolate truffles.
Though it may seem daunting and maybe you’ve heard horror stories, Sarah will assure you that working with chocolate isn't so difficult. It’s actually very forgiving and if you’re dealing with the sometimes-tricky technique of tempering—a process that heats the chocolate to align its crystals to make a smooth, silky consistency used for candy-making—you just have to remember you can always re-temper it.
Valrhona’s go-to truffle recipe only requires three ingredients: chocolate, honey, and heavy cream. Sarah likes to use a special 63% dark chocolate from Valrhona called Illanka chocolate(Opens in a new window), which has a creamy texture with notes of dark fruits. We'll walk you through the recipe below, or feel free to skip right to it!
First thing to know: the key to making great chocolate is emulsion. Making chocolate ganache, for example, is like making a chocolate mayonnaise: it needs to be really well-mixed so the final product is as smooth as can be. To do this, Sarah recommends melting the chocolate in a microwave (Good Tip: use these silicone measuring cups(Opens in a new window) when melting chocolate in the microwave because the honeycomb pattern dissipates heat and makes it safer to touch straight from the microwave) on full power for 20-30 second intervals. Yes, you read that right—microwave. See ya later double boiler! Using a microwave is a dry method to melting chocolate and takes out the element of water, which can ruin the chocolate (also known as seizing chocolate) by turning it into a thick paste. It also avoids burning the chocolate if your water bath gets too hot and that scary feeling that you’re really messing something up. It’s important to do short intervals in the microwave and to stir often because chocolate can burn in there too, but you have much more control.
Once the chocolate is melted and between 105-115ºF (which you can easily check with a digital thermometer), slowly pour the heavy cream and honey mixture over the chocolate and mix with a spatula to form a thick paste. Then slowly add more of the mixture to thin out the paste. The chocolatey/creamy mixture may look broken and separated, but that’s OK.
After adding a bit more liquid, switch to a whisk to get an elastic, shiny look. The last of the liquid is added, stabilizing the water molecules and allowing the chocolate to crystalize. If the water is not stabilized, it will evaporate, leaving you with a dry, grainy-textured ganache, and we do not want that for our truffles. Use an immersion blender to ensure the emulsion process you started by hand is complete, and you'll be left with a silky smooth ganache.
Next, the ganache has to crystalize, which it will do by sitting in a refrigerator for a minimum of four hours. Crystallizing is important because this is when the ganache firms up so it’s malleable.
Using a small cookie scoop, scoop up the hardened ganache, set it on a baking sheet and you have yourself some truffles. Feel free to coat them with cocoa powder, chopped almonds (you can use this chopper), dried fruits or sprinkles! If you want to go the extra step, coat your truffles in tempered chocolate. The truffles can be left out at room temperature for 5 days or refrigerated up to one week.
How to Guide
Active Time: 30 minutes
Toppings & Garnishes
- Chopped almonds and other nuts
- Cocoa powder
- Chocolate sprinkles
- Sea salt
- Crushed pretzels
- Freeze-dried fruits like raspberries