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Classic Bittersweet Chocolate-Cognac Truffles Recipe

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Cognac-flavored chocolate truffles are not difficult to make, but they will require a bit of your time. The time investment will be well worth it. These make great kitchen gifts. Read through the directions to visualize the steps before you begin, and you will have a successful result.

Prep Time: 1 hour

Cook Time: 10 minutes

Total Time: 1 hour, 10 minutes

Ingredients:

  • Ganache:
  • 8-1/2 ounces finely chopped bittersweet (not unsweetened) chocolate
  • 3/4 cup heavy (whipping) cream
  • 1-1/2 Tablespoons cognac (or very good brandy)
  • .
  • Coating:
  • 2/3 cup sifted unsweetened cocoa powder, preferably Dutch-process (European-style), for dusting truffles (see Note)
  • 1-1/4 pounds coarsely chopped bittersweet (not unsweetened) chocolate
  • 2 Tablespoons solid white vegetable shortening (no substitutes)

Preparation:

To prepare ganache: Put chocolate in a medium-sized, deep bowl set in a warm place. In a medium saucepan bring cream to a simmer over medium-high heat. Lower heat until mixture just barely simmers and cook, uncovered and stirring occasionally, three to four minutes, or until liquid is reduced to 2/3 cup. Immediately strain cream through a fine sieve into chocolate, stirring until chocolate completely melts. (If any chocolate pieces remain unmelted, set bowl in a slightly larger bowl of hot water and stir until melted.) Stir cognac into ganache until well blended. Cover and refrigerate for at least four hours (or freeze, stirring frequently, for about one hour), until mixture is very cold and stiff.

To form truffle centers: Using a melon baller or teaspoon, scoop up ganache and roll between palms into 3/4-inch balls. (They don't have to be perfectly round.) Transfer to wax paper lined baking sheet, slightly separated. (As chocolate builds up on hands, wipe it off with a paper towel and continue.) If ganache be comes too soft to shape, return to refrigerator briefly; then proceed. Lightly cover balls with plastic wrap and return to refrigerator until portions are cool and firm.

Meanwhile, set out a wax paper-lined tray and a long-tined dipping fork (or a meat fork, fondue fork, or dinner fork). Put cocoa powder in a medium-sized, deep bowl. To hold tempered chocolate at the proper temperature, place a heating pad (inserted in a heavy plastic bag to protect it from drips) under bowl of tempered chocolate. Turn pad to lowest setting. Lay a kitchen towel over plastic bag and, as you work, adjust the thickness of the towel as needed to keep bottom of bowl just barely warm.

To chocolate-coat and dust truffles: Tip bowl so chocolate pools on one side. Dip a chilled ball of ganache into chocolate, turning with fork until completely submerged. Immediately lift truffle, tapping fork against pan side and then scraping it against side to remove excess chocolate. Quickly drop truffle into bowl of cocoa powder, shaking and swirling bowl, until ball is completely coated. Push to one side and let rest a few seconds until chocolate layer begins to set. Shake off excess cocoa powder, reshape truffle into a ball with fingers if necessary, and lay on wax paper-lined tray. Repeat procedure, gently stirring chocolate about every two minutes to maintain even temperature, until all truffles are prepared. Wipe off dipping fork with dry paper towel as chocolate builds up. If chocolate begins to stiffen and set before all the truffles have been dipped, remove towel from heating pad and turn up heat, stirring just until chocolate melts and thins out again but is not warm. Immediately lower heat and replace towel. Recheck for tempered state by inserting a knife in chocolate and timing to see if it sets within 1-1/2 minutes. If not, add about 1/2 ounce more chocolate; gently stir to cool mixture slightly and try again.

When all truffles are formed, immediately cover tray with plastic wrap and refrigerate for five minutes only. Immediately remove from refrigerator. Pack airtight and keep in a cool place (but preferably not refrigerated) for up to a week.

Note: For a sweeter coating that lends the same dusty look as cocoa powder, combine 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder and 2/3 cup chopped bittersweet (not unsweetened) chocolate in a food processor fitted with a steel blade. Process in on/off pulses until chocolate is finely chopped. Continue processing until mixture is powder fine. Then proceed to chocolate-coat and dust truffles exactly as instructed.

Yield: about 1-1/3 pounds, about 35 1-1/4 inch truffles

Recipe Source: The International Chocolate Cookbook by Nancy Baggett (Stewart, Tabori & Chang)
Reprinted with permission.

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