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09.16.2002

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melts in 
your mouth  
the basics of chocolate truffles
 
by
Sarah Best
1 2

Some people make resolutions to lose weight. Other more vindictive people, such as myself, resolve to make other people fat. That said, these sinfully delicious candies are as likely to win you enemies as they will friends.

Not to be confused with the posh French fungi that are known by the same name, chocolate truffles are rich and creamy bite-sized candies, often sold in upscale stores for exorbitant amounts of money. Happily, you can whip up several dozen in your own kitchen for next to nothing.

Truffles are great for days when you're having a chocolate fit or simply wish to indulge. Pour yourself a glass of cold white wine and pop a homemade truffle in your mouth, and I guarantee you'll feel fabulous. Chocolate truffles are one of those things that, for the uninitiated, seem like they would require complicated culinary maneuvers. You'll get lots of oohs, ahhs, and mmms if you serve them at dinner parties. And since they keep well for several weeks in the fridge, they make great gifts. Remember, chocolate is an aphrodisiac.

In reality, truffles are simple to make, once you've learned a few tricks and mastered some basic techniques. They require few ingredients and little hands-on preparation. That's right. Instant luxury. Almost no work. Sounds like a dream, doesn't it?

truffle tips
A few basic rules of thumb you should keep in mind when you're working with chocolate

1 Use the best chocolate you can find. Chocolates with a high percentage of cocoa butter are creamier and richer than their counterparts. They're also more expensive. When I make truffles I use a moderately priced chocolate available at my local supermarket, and that's fine, although for special occasions I like to splurge. I've found that cheap baking bars, which are packed with added sugar, end up unappetizingly grainy when melted.
2 Chop into small, even pieces. You'll have an easier time melting the chocolate if it's fairly uniform in size and shape. Use a large serrated knife to score the chocolate, then apply slow, even pressure to the top of the knife to chop.
3 Always use indirect heat to melt chocolate. If chocolate gets too hot, it separates and becomes gloppy. And you'll wind up with a grainy mess if you expose the chocolate to steam. To make truffles, you're going to melt the chocolate using hot cream. But generally, the best way to melt chocolate is to rig up a double boiler. You don't actually need a special pan to do this. Simply place chopped chocolate in a metal mixing bowl, then set the bowl over a pot of simmering water.
4 Taste frequently. This doesn't actually do anything to the chocolate. But when the smell of melted chocolate starts to permeate your kitchen, just try to resist.

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