When I first mentioned to Cam that I would be making truffles, he asked me what kind… ones that he would like or weird ones. My initial list, I’m afraid to say, wouldn’t have pleased him. So, I added this batch just for him. To start with, I used Milk Chocolate. I’m not a big fan of it myself, but some flavors just work better with milk chocolate. Like Hazelnuts. Again, I’m not a huge fan… I think I had too much hazelnut flavored coffee when I was in my college years, but it’s one of Cam’s favorites. I happened to have a bag of local hazelnuts that I had in one of my CSA baskets, so it seemed like a great choice… milk chocolate and hazelnut. The two together would be more than enough for a delicious treat (at least in Cam’s eyes), but I had to go and futz with it a bit more by adding espresso to the mix. The espresso provided just the right complexity and edge to balance out the milk chocolate.
Somehow, I didn’t manage to get any good shots of these by themselves, but did get them in a few shots with the other truffles.
Hazelnut & Espresso Milk Chocolate Truffles
(loosely adapted from The Sweet Life by Kate Zukerman)
Makes 8 to 10 truffles
2oz milk chocolate
1/8 cup heavy cream
2 t coffee, ground for espresso
1/4 cup hazelnuts
1/2 t butter (at room temperature)
cocoa powder for dusting (options)
Grind the hazelnuts in a food processor to create a very coarse paste. Set aside.
Next, make the ganache. In a heavy bottom pan, heat the cream and espresso on medium heat, stirring the whole time. Remove from heat just before it boils. Let the mixture stand for 10 minutes. Strain into a small cup to remove any espresso. Set aside.
Heat water to about 150F and place in a metal bowl, about 1/2 way up. Place another, smaller, metal bowl on top to act as a double boiler. Check the temperature… you should be able to touch the bottom of the top metal bowl. If it’s too hot to touch, add some cold water to the bottom bowl. You want the top bowl to be about 120F when you add the chocolate.
Coursely chop the chocolate. Add 1oz to the top metal bowl. Set the other chocolate aside for the coating. Stir the chocolate with a rubber spatula until it’s completely melted. Remove it from the heat, and slowly pour in the cream mixture, and whisk until it’s smooth and you can see the whisk lines in the chocolate. Don’t over stir! Whisk in the butter and half of the hazelnuts, then spoon into a small cup, cover, and refrigerate for at least 2 hours.
When the ganache is cooled, remove it from the fridge. Have a plate ready as well as a bowl of hot water and a melon baller. Dip the melon baller in the hot water, then quickly dry with a dish towel, and press it into the ganache. Turn the baller 360 degrees to form a ball, then tap the baller to force the ganache ball out. I found that hitting it against the side of the bowl worked best. Then, very carefully, move the ball to the plate. Repeat with the rest of the ganache. Cover the balls, and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.
To make the chocolate coating, heat the double boiler as you did with the ganache (make sure you wash it out and dry it very well first!). Add 2/3rds of the remaining chocolate and stir with the spatula until it’s well melted and smooth. Remove from the heat and add the remaining 1/3 of chocolate, and stir until it has melted. This should start quickly dropping the temperature of the chocolate, and give it a “seed” to help it temper properly. It will probably take about 15 minutes for the chocolate to cooled to the right temperature to proceed. According to the books I’ve ready, you want it to be about 87F, although I’m not exactly sure what temperature mine was when I started dipping. Again, I went by the touch method. Make sure your room isn’t too hot… ideally it will be 72F or less.
Once the chocolate has cooled, you can start the dipping. Remove the ganache balls from the fridge. Place the remaining hazelnuts in a shallow bowl. Pick up a ganache ball, and roll it in the melted chocolate, and then drop it gently into the hazelnuts. Use the other hand to roll it, and place it onto a plate. Then proceed with the remaining ganache balls. They should firm up almost immediately and be ready to eat.