Homemade for the holidays
As you may be aware, Christmas is coming up in just a matter of days now, and if you’re into that sort of thing, that thought may strike terror into your heart. It certainly does for me. I have HOW MANY presents left to get?? I have to brave I-35 the day before WHAT??
Luckily, if you’re still in need of stocking stuffers or small gifts for friends, coworkers or family, there’s still time for one more homemade gift.
(That was a rhetorical question. Everyone seems to know one weirdo who doesn’t like chocolate.)
Chocolate truffles take a time investment of a few hours, preferably over a couple of days, but the ingredients are easy to find at the grocery store and (optional) liquor store or liquor cabinet. And the results are amazing.
One quick note before we get started: Pretty much every step of this process is ripe for inappropriate jokes, so make sure to have your most immature friends around during truffle-making. While the exact jokes are beyond the scope of this article, if you’re having trouble getting started you can email my friend Shelly, who has kindly offered to provide a comprehensive list.
Here’s what you’ll need. This recipe makes roughly a bajillion truffles, so if you only need half a bajillion… you know what to do.
2 cups heavy cream
4 10-ounce bags bittersweet chocolate chips (get the good stuff. Come on.)
1/3 cup medium-grade rum, cognac or fruit-flavored liqueur (optional but delicious)
Roughly ½ of a 10-ounce bag of white and/or milk chocolate (for decoration)
Heat the cream in a saucepan until it steams and starts to bubble around the edges of the pan, stirring constantly. Don’t let it boil. Pour two bags of the chocolate chips into a medium-sized bowl and pour half of the hot cream on top. Let it sit for 30 seconds, then stir the cream into the chocolate, slowly adding the rest of the cream as it gets incorporated. Some people recommend mixing with an electric mixer to help prevent the chocolate and fat from separating, but I didn’t have any problems using a low-tech wooden spoon. Stir until the chocolate is completely melted, and if it just won’t melt all the way, put the (hopefully microwave-safe) bowl in the microwave for 30-second intervals, stirring well in between. If you’re using liquor, now’s the time to add it in and mix well.
Now you have a chocolate ganache. Sounds fancy, right? Put it in the fridge for a few hours or overnight.
Once the ganache has hardened to roughly ice cream consistency, pull it out of the fridge, WASH YOUR HANDS, put some wax paper down on a cookie sheet and start to make lots of tiny little ganache balls. The best way I found to do this was with the small end of a melon baller, which I dipped in very hot water between each scoop.
Once you have a tray full of wonky, misshapen balls, put them in the freezer for a few minutes to further harden. Then roll each ball between your clean, dry (and ideally cold) palms to make them as round as possible.
Now. Pour the remaining two bags of bittersweet chocolate into a very dry small-medium bowl. Microwave for a minute, stir, and then keep microwaving for 30-second intervals, stirring in between, until the chocolate is perfectly melted and smooth. Put a fresh sheet of wax paper on another cookie sheet, or carefully transfer the wax paper and balls off of the one you’ve been using.
One at a time, toss a ball in the chocolate, coat it fully and then remove with a fork. Scrape the excess chocolate off the bottom of the fork and very carefully slide into the cookie sheet, making sure that the fork doesn’t leave spots of the ganache uncovered. (If you choose, you can also recoat the truffles once they’ve hardened a bit.)
Now melt the white or milk chocolate as described above. If you don’t have a pastry bag, form a cone out of wax paper and tape in place, then fill with the chocolate. Snip the end of the wax paper if necessary and squeeze evenly to dispense a stream of chocolate. Practice a little before decorating the top of the truffles, then go for it. Alternately, you can also roll the truffles in unsweetened cocoa powder, coconut and/or finely chopped nuts.
Let the truffles harden at room temperature — putting them in the fridge will take away their shine. They can be stored at room temperature in an airtight container and will last for up to two weeks.
You’re done! If you want the truffles to look extra pretty when you give them to people, place them on a small sheet of waxed paper inside a tissue paper–lined jewelry box. Or just throw them in some Ziploc bags like I do.
we’ll conclude this homemade gifts series by making homemade meth Christmas will finally be over. And the people will rejoice.