A Gift from the Heart

Creating personalized gifts for your friends and family during the holidays is a great way to share some happiness.  For years now, I have been rolling and sending hand made chocolate truffles to my loved ones. Truffles are the tastiest of all confections, lucky for me they are also the easiest to prepare.  Let’s get rolling~stop texting, put down the smart phone and let’s get back to a simpler time.  I promise these truffles will taste a lot better than a gift card.

Think of the truffle as a blank canvas.  Your sister likes amaretto and toasted almonds, now you know what kind of truffle she loves.  A best friend can’t live without Grand Marnier, then a liqueur infused truffle is coming his way.  The canvas gets full quickly.  That’s the nice thing about the simple but elegant truffle, you can combine everybody’s favorite ingredients to create a gift unique to them.  Prepare a few favorites, put them in one box and you’ve got a fantastic assortment.  My favorite medley has truffles three ways~cocoa dusted, almond crusted and with a hint of salt.  Sea salt with chocolate is the hottest trend, it’s like a chocolate covered pretzel without the pretzel.  These little sophisticated rounds pack big flavor, so you will be remembered long after the chocolates are gone.

Use your favorite chocolate as a starting point.  I love the intensity of bitter-sweet, but the average palate prefers something in the middle.  A semi-sweet from Belgium is the way to go.  Look for the Callebaut brand with 60% cocoa solids, it’s the best chocolate for the price I have found.  Everything you need to create these little beauties is available on line; the chocolate, the boxes to nestle them in, you’ll be amazed.  Always use the best quality ingredients and wrap the truffles in upscale candy boxes bedecked with a ribbon and a gift card.

Praised for it’s many health benefits, chocolate is loaded with antioxidants, it helps lower blood pressure and is a mood booster, so enjoy in moderation (whatever that is).  Having your kids help scoop the chocolate and lick the spoon is a great way to get in the holiday spirit.  If the kids are away, turn up the music, pour a glass of wine and get rolling.  I hope you enjoy my recipe; it’s been with me for over 30 years.  I didn’t have time to wrap it, but it’s my holiday gift to you.

Chocolate Truffles

2 3/4 Pounds Semi-Sweet Chocolate
2 cups Heavy Cream
4 oz. Grand Marnier
1Teaspoon Vanilla
6 Ounces Unsalted Butter
Cocoa Powder or Chopped Toasted Almonds

Cut chocolate into small pieces using a serrated knife.  Heat cream, add Grand Marnier and vanilla.  Heat cream to 185 degrees.  Remove from heat add the chocolate and stir until smooth.  Mix gently, you don’t want to incorporate air into the chocolate.  You now have a ganache~chocolate and cream combined.

When the temperature has cooled below 90 degrees and feels slightly cool to the touch, cut the butter into small pieces and drop them one at a time into the ganache stirring.  Do not add the butter until the ganache is below 90 degrees.  Allow to cool and firm up slightly.

Scoop into rounds and roll in cocoa.  The cocoa is slightly bitter and will set off the chocolate flavor in a big way.  For a mellower truffle, roll the truffles in the chopped almonds.  The almonds bring out the fruitiness of the chocolate and give a good crunch.

Chef Larry Barrett
Simply Gourmet Caterers

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