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Bittersweet Chocolate and Chestnut Truffles

This image courtesy of Joseph DeLeo

These divine chocolates are really like the soft, melting insides of other truffles. They have an elusive mellow flavour, due to the addition of sweetened chestnut puree, and the intense richness of good bittersweet chocolate. Don’t use a really bitter variety of chocolate, but one that is pleasing to eat, with just enough sweetness and a rich, roasted acidity. The recipe makes a large batch, but they disappear quickly. If you want, however, the recipe can be halved (or doubled!). A tip: I use a tiny, 1-inch ice cream scoop to portion the truffles. This makes quick, easy work of it and is far less messy than rolling them between your warm palms—you waste less of the mixture and are finished in a quarter of the time.

About100 1-inch truffles

CostModerate

Total Timea day or more

Make Ahead RecipeYes

Kid FriendlyYes

OccasionBuffet, Cocktail Party, Formal Dinner Party

Recipe Coursedessert, snack

Dietary Considerationegg-free, gluten-free, halal, kosher, peanut free, soy free, vegetarian

Mealdinner, snack, tea

Moodromantic

Taste and Texturechocolatey, creamy, nutty, rich, sweet

Type of Dishchocolate dessert, dessert

Ingredients

  • ½ cup plus 2 tablespoons heavy cream (36%)
  • 1 cup (11 ounces) sweetened chestnut puree with vanilla (also called creme de marrons)
  • 14 ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
  • 1½ tablespoons Cognac or Armagnac
  • ¼ cup unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa
  • ¼ cup confectioners sugar

Instructions

  1. Combine the cream and chestnut puree in a heavy-bottomed saucepan and place over medium-low heat. Bring the mixture just to the boil, stirring slowly. When bubbles break the surface of the mixture, remove the pot from the heat. Place the chocolate in a medium bowl and pour the hot cream mixture over the chocolate. Stir with a wide-looped whisk or a wooden spoon until the chocolate is very smooth, and the cream and chestnut mixture is completely incorporated. Blend in the Cognac or Armagnac. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap, leaving a gap for the steam to escape, and refrigerate the truffle mixture until thoroughly chilled, preferably overnight.

  2. Sift the cocoa powder and confectioners sugar together several times until thoroughly blended, then spread the mixture on a large plate or platter. Have ready a second platter or baking dish lined with parchment or waxed paper to set the truffles on before they are rolled. Finally, have several platters, baking dishes, baking sheets or boxes ready to hold the finished chocolates. (I find the little paper or foil confection cups that are available in kitchenware and specialty shops very handy when making truffles, as they allow you to move the truffles and store them with a minimum of handling and damage. They are inexpensive and come in very plain or seasonally decorated designs. If you are using these, separate them before you start working with the truffle mixture and your hands become covered with goo.)

  3. Remove the chocolate mixture from the refrigerator and use a 1-inch ice cream scoop or melon baller to form small balls. Keep the truffles small; the temptation is always to get bigger and bigger, but these are powerfully rich sweets, and it is always better to want two than wish you’d only eaten half. Form about 30 truffles at a time, then put the rest of the chocolate mixture back in the refrigerator to cool. Gently roll each truffle in the cocoa-sugar mixture and set them in the paper liners or on a platter. Don’t worry about getting the truffles perfectly round, or perfectly covered; irregularity is part of their beauty. Once the platter is full, refrigerate the finished truffles. Keep forming, rolling and chilling the truffles until the entire mixture is used. Store the truffles in the refrigerator for up to 4 or 5 days. Do keep them chilled-they will quickly become soft and messy if left at room temperature for more than a few minutes. These gorgeously rich little chocolates are perfect at the holidays, as part of a dessert buffet, a sophisticated end to an elegant dinner or as gifts.

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