Decadent chocolate truffles with super creamy centers of chocolate-coconut-strawberry jam ganache.
Truffles are show-stoppers. Decadent, hard chocolate shells protecting luxuriant, silky centers. When I was in school, I was lucky enough to attend a few of Alice Medrich’s chocolate classes when she guest chef-ed one week. I’m not sure anyone knows more than she does about chocolate, and I warn you, chocolate is not known for being forgiving. She has rules. And if you don’t follow them, it’s not pretty.
Some Chocolate Rules:
Always melt chocolate in a bain-marie. A bain-marie is a bowl that is placed over simmering or hot water; a warm bath, in other words. When the chocolate starts to melt, remove the bowl from the water. Yes, you can live on the edge with shortcuts like the microwave, and I have. I’ve also melted chocolate in a pan, sans bain-marie, and have, on occasion, helplessly watched it seize up into an ugly, mottled mass. This usually happens when I’ve run out of chocolate, and have to run to the store to buy more to finish the recipe. The bain-marie is the only fool-proof method I can swear by.
Be careful not to sprinkle the melted chocolate with any water. A lot of water is fine, but a sprinkle can be fatal and cause chunks of chocolate to form, and the surface of the chocolate can turn an unappealing dull gray.
For dipping the truffle centers, the temperature of the dipping chocolate is the single most important key to getting a successful shell coating. The ideal temperature is anywhere between 100 degrees F and 105 degrees F. Warmer than 105 degrees F will melt the frozen creamy center, making it impossible to work with. Cooler than 100 degrees F will harden the shell too fast, preventing a consistent shell thickness and surface texture.
Assuming you’re not working with tempered chocolate, the chocolate powder dusting at the end is to dress up the truffle surface. Tempering contributes to a shiny surface. You can get a shiny surface with untempered chocolate by adding oil or butter, but that can change the hardening characteristics. I was deliberately going after a hard shell to enclose a very, very creamy center, and didn’t want to take any chances.
Decadent Chocolate-Coconut (Super) Creamy Truffles with Strawberry Jam
- 8 ounces semisweet chocolate chips
- 1 1/4 cup coconut milk
- 4 tablespoons your favorite strawberry jam
- 2 teaspoons ground cardamom
- 16 ounces semisweet chocolate chips
- 2 tablespoons cocoa powder
Truffle Centers (Chocolate Ganache)
- Bring the coconut milk to almost a simmer over medium - high heat. Place the chocolate chips in a large bowl and pour the hot coconut milk over the chocolate all at once.
- Using a rubber spatula, gently stir until the chocolate is completely melted and combined with the coconut milk in one smooth, creamy mixture. Stir in the strawberry jam and cardamom. The key movement is slow and easy - whisking it will make the centers more cake-y instead of creamy -- a tip I learned in a class I took from the chocolate Queen, Alice Medrich.
- Strain the chocolate mixture through a fine metal strainer into an 8" X 8" baking pan, and cover it with plastic. Freeze for three to four hours.
- These are very, very creamy centers, which makes them more of a challenge to form. Methods for forming the centers range from ice-cream scoopers, to wearing thin latex gloves and forming them by hand, to using two spoons. I've tried them all, but prefer the two spoons approach combined with the latex gloves.
- The first step is to put several spoons in the freezer to get them really, really cold to prevent the chocolate from melting on contact. Then I line a tray that can fit in my freezer with parchment paper.
- Remove the ganache from the freezer and be prepared to work quickly before the chocolate softens. Once it starts to soften, slide it back into the freezer.
- Using one cold spoon, scoop up the amount of ganache you want for your centers. Cup another cold spoon over the chocolate and smooth the surface to round it, scooping under it to transfer it from the first spoon to the second. It should now be in the shape of a quenelle. Using a combination of the first spoon and latex gloved hands, shape the ganache into a domed shape of a truffle.
- As the spoons warm up, you may need to switch to colder spoons reserved in the freezer. Be prepared for a little frustration as it takes a few to get a pattern down.
- Place on a parchment lined tray that will fit into your freezer.
- Cover the tray with foil and slide the truffle centers into the freezer for at least four hours.
- Note: If you're making these in advance, they can stay in the freezer overnight. Once they harden, you can place them in a sealed container and keep them frozen for up to two months.
- When you're ready to dip the centers, you'll need to work fast, so first lay out the equipment you'll need: a rubber spatula for stirring the chocolate; an instant read thermometer to read the temperature of the dipping chocolate; a small bowl containing the chocolate powder; a small sifter/strainer for the powder; a fresh tray lined with parchment for freshly dipped truffles; a large sauté pan of water; a shallow bowl containing the chocolate chips; and a dinner knife (not serrated).
- Bring the water to a simmer in the sauté pan. Turn off the heat. Place the bowl filled with chocolate chips on the water. Using a spatula, occasionally stir the chocolate as it melts.
- Once it's melted, test the temperature with an instant read thermometer. When working with chocolate, temperature is EVERYTHING. When the temperature is between 100 degrees F and 105 degrees F, you're ready to dip. If the chocolate is much more than 105 degrees, it will start to melt the truffle center, which isn't that stable to begin with. If it's much cooler than 100 degrees, it will freeze onto the truffle before you can smooth it the shape you desire. Once it cools too much, turn the stove burner on under the water for a few minutes to warm the water up again.
Dipping is another skill that will develop with practice. Just like making centers, there are a number of methods for dipping: spoons, gloved hands, and a dipping tool set. I used the combination of a knife and gloved hands:
- Initially just take one truffle center out of the freezer at a time so that you don't feel rushed. Remove the bowl of chocolate from the pan of water, drying the bottom of the bowl with a towel. Place the truffle in the bowl, and move it around the bowl with the knife, spreading the chocolate and turning it over with the knife. Lift it out of the chocolate with the knife under it and wipe off chocolate dripping down.
- Using the knife, lower the truffle onto the tray freshly lined with parchment and gently lever the knife away.
- Place some chocolate powder in the sifter and sift a little over the truffle.
- Repeat with the rest. If necessary, refrigerate until the shells harden. Mine hardened within 15 or 20 seconds.
- These truffles can be stored in the refrigerator for up to two weeks, or in the freezer for up to two months.