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love yourself some chocolate

Recipe: mocha truffles

Last night I had some grand plans. Jeremy was observing from 1-4am (in case you are confused, some radio telescopes can now be operated remotely by the astronomer who logs in from a computer in their office or their home) and I thought I’d wake up with him and get a little night photography done. But by 10 pm, a friend tweeted they were getting snow down on the flats. I took Kaweah outside and sure enough, snow on the ground. I looked up for that gorgeous full moon I had seen earlier in the evening and – nothing. Just a blanket of dark gray clouds stretching across the sky while snowflakes rushed down at my face.

By daybreak, a familiar and long overdue sight greeted me. Kaweah develops a certain jauntiness to her step when she runs out into the snow, shoving her snout into the powder, emerging with a sugar-dusted muzzle, and then sneezing so that every bit of her furry self shakes and wiggles out to the tip of her tail.

it’s cold this morning!

kaweah’s modus operandi in winter

I was only disappointed in missing out on my photo shoot for a millisecond. Okay, nanosecond. Because we’re all about the snow here. My world isn’t complete without the snow. December can’t call itself DECEMBER without the snow in these parts. Now I’m finally in the mood for the holidays. Time to bust out the chocolate! Back in October, I received my dear Anita‘s second book right around the time Scharffen Berger sent me some samples of their chocolate. Who in their right mind is going to say, “No thank you, I don’t want any of your fabulous free chocolate”?!?

the geek in me just loves these field guide formats

holiday baking is in my future

Full disclosure: The Field Guide to Candy was a complimentary copy sent to me by Quirk Books. Scharffen Berger shipped me an assortment of their dark chocolates and a 2-gigabyte jump drive (it’s so cute!).

I’ve hosted a chocolate tasting party before. When I was shopping for the chocolates, my hand hovered over Scharffen Berger and then decided to try Green and Black’s Organic. What a mistake. I should have chosen the Scharffen Berger then. Imagine how happy I was as I contemplated what to do with this beautiful stash of chocolate. I don’t eat much chocolate, but I use a ton of it as I enjoy making chocolate goodies to give to people (because PEOPLE like love chocolate). So flipping through my new Field Guide to Candy, I settled on some simple mocha truffles.

espresso powder and cream

let’s use a 62%

I have made Kona coffee truffles in my pastry skills course before which involved steeping whole Kona coffee beans in hot cream for an hour. This recipe calls for espresso powder and Kahlua coffee liqueur. I have a soft spot in my heart for boozy sweets and treats, especially around the holiday season. Since the Scharffen Berger chocolate came in nifty little chunks, you would think I could just go with that and let the hot cream do its work. Because liquids boil at a lower temperature at my elevation (and probably because we keep our house between 58°F and 65°F in winter) the chocolate rarely ever melts completely. So I pulse my chocolate in a food processor first and then let the hot cream sit and melt the chocolate. If there are still lumps, I zap it on low power in the nuker (microwave) for a few seconds until all is smooth, but not runny.

hot espresso cream poured onto the chocolate

stirring it together

Bakers say it over and over again. Watching that mess of cream and melted chocolate transform into a silky smooth ganache is such a delight. Making beauty out of chaos.

stir in the butter

Once the butter and Kahlua is incorporated, the ganache sits in a cool room and sets up over the course of a few hours. I considered dipping the truffles in tempered chocolate per the recipe, but tempering is no trivial matter. I’ve finally become comfortable enough with it that I can consistently temper chocolate. Even so, I thoroughly enjoy the Robert Linxe-style truffles which don’t rely on a proper temper. So that’s what I did.

a scooper is very handy

the ocd in me requires rolling truffles into spheroids

I melted the remaining 62% cocoa chocolate at half power in the microwave until just melted (you don’t want the chocolate so hot that it melts the truffle) and donned a disposable glove for the dipping. My hands are always warm and so I find the glove provides a (very) small temperature buffer between my hand and the chocolate. Not to mention the clean up is far easier. Don’t go into this expecting to dip all of the truffles and then roll them in cocoa powder – you need to roll them in cocoa powder before the chocolate cools and hardens. I don’t recommend freezing or even refrigerating the truffle centers before dipping because (and this is from experience), the outer chocolate shell cracks as the truffle center comes to room temperature and expands.


coat (oy, what a mess)

I think most people expect dusted truffles to be soft bites. That hard outer shell is an additional happy, crunchy texture… and let’s face it – MORE chocolate goodness. The ganache had a coffee flavor that was pretty understated. That’s understandable coming from Jeremy (our resident coffee snob), but even for me – someone who doesn’t do coffee at all – I felt myself desiring a slightly more pronounced coffee flavor in the mocha. I think it could be stronger, but your mileage may vary. The chocolate itself was well-balanced and pretty smooth without any startling characteristics and worked well in the truffles. Have you started your holiday baking and candy making yet? Truffles are a relatively simple, yet exceedingly luxurious and wonderful gift to give to any chocolate lover.

wrapped and ready to go

Mocha Truffles
[print recipe]
modified from Field Guide to Candy by Anita Chu of Dessert First

2/3 cup heavy cream
1 tbsp instant espresso powder
8 oz. bittersweet chocolate, chopped
1 tbsp coffee liqueur
2 tsps unsalted butter, room temperature, cut into pieces
6 oz. bittersweet chocolate, chopped
1/4 cup cocoa powder (I used Dutch-process)

Place the cream and espresso powder in a small saucepan over medium high heat and bring to boil. Place the 8 ounces of chopped chocolate (I like to pulse mine finer in a food processor) in a bowl and pour the hot cream over the chocolate. Let sit for a minute. Stir until chocolate is melted and blended with the cream. Stir in the butter and coffee liqueur until the mixture is smooth and uniform. Pour the ganache into a baking pan (I just left it in my bowl) and let sit at room temperature for a couple of hours or until it is firm enough to scoop. Line a baking sheet with parchment or wax paper and scoop balls of ganache onto the sheet. Roll them quickly and gently between your hands to make them more spherical. Melt the 6 remaining ounces of chocolate in a small bowl (I microwave on half power for 15 seconds at a time until mostly melted, then remove from microwave and stir until it is completely melted). Let the chocolate cool a little. Place the cocoa powder in another small bowl. Line another baking sheet with parchment or wax paper. Dip each truffle in the melted chocolate so it is completely coated. Shake off any excess dripping chocolate and then gently drop the wet truffle into the bowl of cocoa powder and coat the truffle. Set the finished truffle on the fresh baking sheet and let cool. Makes approximately 24 truffles.

35 nibbles at “love yourself some chocolate”

  1. amy says:

    I *love* giving truffles for the holidays…and there’s so many ways you can flavor them, too. Love the idea of mocha. I think I’ll try the gloves this year (if I get around to making them!) since last year I ended up with hands fully coated in that chocolatey ganache…not a bad thing for tasting, but it quickly became kind of a sticky rolling situation!

  2. sam says:

    Interesting. I love both Scharffen Berger and Green & Blacks. I like to cook with Scharffen Berger and eat Green & Blacks straight out of the pack. I really appreciate it’s strong bitter bite. I love the deep ‘winey’ taste of Scharffen Berger too.

  3. Maria says:

    I love Anita, she is my favorite:) I have her candy book, but haven’t had time to play around much. I think I will have to make these treats for the holidays. Great job!

  4. chocolate shavings says:

    There’s nothing better than truffles at this time of year!

  5. Andrea Meyers says:

    I love the complex flavor of Scharffen Berger chocolate and use it whenever I want a dessert to be extra special. And what better way to eat chocolate than truffles?! Anita’s book is on my Christmas wishlist.

  6. Anita says:

    Jen, thanks so much for such a sweet review of my book! Truffles never looked better coming out of your skilled hands! Can’t wait to see the rest of the candy extravaganza coming out of your kitchen:) XOXO Anita

  7. Meaghan says:

    These look wonderful… I like the truffle-chocolate-cocoa layering… much more forgiving than coating them smoothly in tempered chocolate. It’s still a lot of work, though! I made hundreds of truffles last Christmas, to give as gifts.
    Can’t wait to see your snowy photos… we had our first real snowfall on Monday here in Montreal. Hello, winter!

  8. Steve says:

    These sound and look amazing. I feel very daunted by candy making though. I just made my first ever from scratch cake, chocolate with cream cheese icing. Baby steps!

  9. heather says:

    Holy wow. I tried to make truffles once and it didn’t turn out so pretty. Next time!!



  10. jennywenny says:

    Everyone always asks for my truffles at christmas, I’ll try your new idea of dipping in chocolate. I cant face tempering either so this solution looks perfect. I have a little twizzly thing to dip the truffles that helps with the mess a bit!

  11. Krista says:

    Ooee! So lovely! I remember my first attempt at truffles when I was a girl. They weren’t pretty but ohhh, how I love that melt in your mouth sensation! :-)

  12. haya says:

    i will make these next week!!! holy moly delish. i suspect mine will be not as pretty as yours, but my friends and family will have to accept this :-P

    also. field guide to candy? if i ever needed a field guide, this is probably it. and kaweah and i share a similar winter strategy. too bad my job gets in the way.

  13. Melissa says:

    I don’t have a nice response to your book or your chocolate or your baking this go round but I will say a) SNOW!! and b) Kaweah nose-icle!

  14. Memoria says:

    These truffles are beautiful! Is there a non-alcoholic substitute for coffee liqueur?

  15. Gina F says:

    OOH! I just got me a bottle of Kahlua, good thing you reminded me that I can use it for other then just drinking it!! ;O) Good use with cholote!!

  16. Abby says:

    I’ve had truffles on my to-do list forEVER, but I’m kind of intimidated. I also have hot hands, which makes me nervous when it comes to rolling anything!

    (And that pic of Kaweah in the blanket? Omigod what a sweet baby.)

  17. Lauren says:

    Wow. I made truffles the other year, but I think I might have to do it again. Its long overdue =D.

  18. Mrs Ergül says:

    I envy the lucky recipients of these truffles! A lot of work for the well-deserved!

    Happy holidays Jen! xxoo

  19. Caitlin says:

    Oh, how I love truffles. And chocolate. And coffee. But whenever I see a field guide, I think of the Audobon Society bird guides my mom always had – so much fun to flip through while looking out the picture window in our dining room growing up!

  20. Kristin says:

    The truffles are lovely, and thanks for the no chilling tip…scooping after chilling is a pain in the you know what, but the sweets can’t compete with the adorable picture of Kaweah’s nose!

  21. Tartelette says:

    As the French say “Miam!” These are perfect..if I made them they’d be all mine. OK, so I know what I am making this holiday season :)
    They turned out perfect!

  22. Valérie says:

    Nothing says “Holidays” like homemade truffles! I need to get cracking on some of my own! Thanks for the tips!

  23. Becky from MN says:

    We’ve only had temps cool enough to keep snow on the ground for a week now. We’ve got a light dusting, but not much expected in the forcast either. We may see single digit temps tonight. Hopefully the snow will show up very shortly. Your truffles sound oh so yummy, I should really try making them for some Christmas gifts.

  24. emma. our kitchen says:

    These look delicious. I will have to give them a go as Christmas gifts. Thank you!

  25. Lori says:

    I love that pic of Kaweah under the blanket. A-D-O-R-A-B-L-E!

    Now, could you pass me one of those gems! yum.

  26. bima says:

    beauties!! can you give me a specific brand name of Non-Dutch Process and Dutch Process cocoa, I am totally confused. I live in Los Angeles. thanks for your help!

  27. Karen B says:

    Did you ever get to tour the Scharffen Berger factory when it was in Oakland? Unfortunately they are no longer using that facility, but it was a great tour – with samples at the end! I was impressed with their entire process, from selecting the beans through the entire manufacturing process. There’s a reason it’s so good!

    Someday I will be brave enough to try making truffles. Until then, I’m admiring yours!

  28. Delaying studying « The Way I See It says:

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  29. jenyu says:

    Amy – the gloves are a definite bonus in the whole process.

    Anita – my pleasure! I’m sorry I didn’t get to it sooner, but I thought it would be a good reminder for folks gearing up for the holidays :) xoxo

    Jennywenny – I tried the twizzly thing and it seemed to score the truffle and get mucky :( perhaps you’ll have better luck!

    Melissa – ha ha, her nose can be ice cold sometimes when she’s wrapped up like that.

    Memoria – perhaps try a little espresso?

    Abby – the easiest way to make truffles is to just roll the truffle filling in cocoa powder and be done – not a lot of melty going on there (and MUCH faster)

    Bima – Non-dutch process is like Hershey’s… The Dutch process brand I use (only because it’s so hard to find around here) is Droste from Holland.

    Karen B – no, never heard of it. Bummer :(

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  32. T.Le says:

    Quick Q! How long will these last in and out of the fridge? I want to make my holiday truffles all at once but my friends are gonna be in and out of town in a 1.5 week period and i’d hate to accidentally um…poison them. yes. I feel like that would be a poor holiday gift. Thanks in advance!

  33. jenyu says:

    T.Le – should be fine for a week or more as long as you aren’t storing it anyplace too warm. consider truffles sold in stores – longer than a week…

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