For such rich, luxurious treats, chocolate truffles are incredibly simple to make at home.
At the heart of the bite-size confections is ganache, a mixture of chocolate and cream, chilled until firm, scooped and shaped into balls, and rolled in cocoa and confectioners’ sugar—or whatever coating you desire.
First, choose your chocolate: with such a short ingredient list, the flavor and quality matters. Dan Zuccarello, executive food editor at America’s Test Kitchen, recommends using dark chocolate—specifically bittersweet, which has a higher cacao percentage than semisweet—for an “intense chocolate flavor.”
“Our overall favorite dark chocolate is Ghirardelli 60 percent Cacao Bittersweet Chocolate Premium Baking Bar,” he said, for its “complex flavor that combines the tart fruitiness of cherries and wine with a slight smokiness.” Most other brands will work, too; Zuccarello only cautions against a cacao percentage of 85 percent cacao or higher, which will likely result in “compromised texture and in some cases a too-bitter flavor.”
In making ganache, different ratios of chocolate to cream yield consistencies suited for different uses—dipping strawberries, glazing the top of a cake, or spreading thick between its layers—but for truffles, a chocolate-heavy two-to-one ratio works best, giving you a firm, fudgy paste.
The mixture is traditionally made by gently warming the cream on the stove-top and pouring it over finely chopped chocolate, but for an even easier, fool-proof method, the Test Kitchen simply combines the two ingredients in a microwave at half power—“the microwave is far less fussy … and it’s also a lot quicker,” Zuccarello said.
The ganache only needs to chill for 45 minutes to firm up, but you can also make it in advance and refrigerate it, covered, overnight; Zuccarello recommends letting it sit at room temperature for 15–30 minutes before attempting to scoop, shape, and roll your truffles.
For that step, he offers another tip: “Lightly dusting your hands with extra cocoa or wearing a pair of latex gloves goes a long way in helping with cleanup.”
Once you’ve got the basics down, try experimenting with flavors by incorporating different zests, extracts, or spices into your base. Zuccarello especially likes the combination of chocolate with warm spices, like cinnamon and cayenne—or even garam masala and ancho chile powder.
Why This Recipe Works: Chocolate truffles are candy at its most decadent, perfect for a small bite of something sweet after a meal. But making this chocolatier’s specialty is often laborious and messy; we wanted an easier, faster stairway to truffle heaven.
To make our truffle base—the ganache—we turned to the microwave. Melting the chocolate and cream in the microwave was foolproof and took only a minute. Adding a pinch of salt to the mix amplified the bittersweet chocolate’s complex flavors. Careful mixing was essential: The ideal utensil is a rubber spatula, as it doesn’t incorporate a lot of air the way a whisk does. Some recipes call for cooling the ganache for up to 4 hours before shaping it, but we found that just 45 minutes in the refrigerator was enough time. After portioning out the mixture, another short chill of just 30 minutes was all the ganache needed before being rolled into balls and dusted with cocoa. Wear latex gloves when forming the truffles to keep your hands clean.
Makes 24 truffles
- 1/4 cup (3/4 ounce) unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1 tablespoon confectioners’ sugar
- 8 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped fine
- 1/2 cup heavy cream
- Pinch table salt
Sift cocoa and sugar through a fine-mesh strainer into a pie plate. Microwave chocolate, cream, and salt in bowl at 50 percent power, stirring occasionally with rubber spatula, until melted and smooth, 2–4 minutes. Stir chocolate mixture until fully combined; transfer to 8-inch square baking dish and refrigerate until set, about 45 minutes.
Using heaping teaspoon measure, scoop chocolate mixture into 24 portions, transfer to a large plate, and refrigerate until firm, about 30 minutes. Roll each truffle between your hands to form uniform balls (they needn’t be perfect).
Transfer truffles to cocoa mixture and roll to evenly coat. Lightly shake truffles in your hand over pie plate to remove excess coating and transfer to platter. Refrigerate for 30 minutes. Let sit at room temperature for 10 minutes before serving. (Coated truffles can be refrigerated along with excess cocoa mixture in airtight container for up to 1 week. Shake truffles in your hand to remove excess coating and let sit at room temperature for 10 minutes before serving.)
Substitute 1 cup sliced almonds, toasted and chopped fine, for cocoa mixture coating. Add 1/2 teaspoon almond extract to chocolate mixture before microwaving.
Sift 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon with cocoa powder and sugar for coating. Add 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon and 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper to chocolate mixture before microwaving.
Add 2 teaspoons ground ginger to chocolate mixture before microwaving.
Add 1 teaspoon grated lemon zest to chocolate mixture before microwaving.
Recipe reprinted with permission from “Everything Chocolate: A Decadent Collection of Morning Pastries, Nostalgic Sweets, and Showstopping Desserts” by America’s Test Kitchen. Published by America’s Test Kitchen.