For the ganache
Generous 2 cups (18 ounces; 500 grams) heavy cream
21 ounces (600 grams) bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
Generous 1/4 cup (2 ounces; 60 grams) Grand Marnier or Stoli Razberi vodka
To enrobe the truffles
18 ounces (500 grams) bittersweet chocolate, tempered
18 ounces (500 grams) white chocolate, tempered
To garnish the truffles
2 cups (8 ounces; 230 grams) Dutch-processed unsweetened cocoa powder, sifted
2 1/2 cups (9 ounces; 250 grams) shredded sweetened coconut, toasted (see note,
About 2 cups (8 ounces; 230 grams) toasted nuts, finely chopped (see note,
Heat the heavy cream in a 2-quart heavy-bottomed saucepan until bubbles begin to
form around the edge of the pan. Make sure that you have chopped the chocolate
as finely as possible to allow it to melt quickly and easily. Place the chopped
chocolate in a medium-size mixing bowl. Make a ganache by pouring about half of
the hot cream over the chocolate and letting it sit for 30 seconds to melt the
chocolate. Then slowly whisk until smooth and homogenous. Do not add all of the
hot cream to the cold chocolate at once; the shock of the temperature extremes
would cause the fat in the chocolate to separate. As the chocolate melts, you
will see some elasticity if there is no fat separation. This means the chocolate
still has an emulsion; the fat molecules are still holding together. If the
ganache separates, it loses its elasticity, collapses, and becomes very liquid.
I use a hand-held immersion blender to ensure a smooth ganache and to keep the
emulsion of the chocolate. Add the remaining cream gradually and mix until all
of the hot cream is incorporated and the ganache is smooth and homogenous.
If the ganache separates, it is very
easy to fix. Simply add a small amount of cold cream and whisk well. This will
bring the ganache back together. The ganache should be thick, shiny, and smooth.
Add the desired flavoring and mix until fully incorporated. Pour the ganache
onto a plastic wrap-covered baking sheet and spread evenly with a rubber
spatula. Cover the ganache with plastic wrap and allow it to cool for at least 4
hours at room temperature. I usually make the ganache at the end of the day and
let it cool overnight. As it cools, it will thicken and set.
When the ganache has cooled to the
consistency of toothpaste, scrape it into a pastry bag fitted with a 1/2-inch
plain tip. Do not stir the ganache when you do this. Incorporating air by
stirring will cause the ganache to harden. Pipe 1-inch-diameter mounds spaced 1
inch apart on a parchment paper-covered baking sheet. To pipe the mounds, hold
the pastry bag at a slight angle and allow the tip to touch the parchment as you
begin to pipe. Once you have formed the mound, stop squeezing and lift the tip
straight up, leaving a small tail on the top of each mound. You can also use a
spoon and drop small mounds of ganache onto the baking sheet. Let the truffles
harden at room temperature for a couple of hours (or in the refrigerator for 15
minutes), until they are hard enough to roll with your hands.
When I roll the truffles, I usually
wear surgical gloves. The gloves are not mandatory but if you do not use them,
be sure your hands are very clean. To roll the mound into a ball, place a
truffle between both palms, squeeze slightly, and roll between your hands. The
truffles will look nicer if they are as round as possible. When all the truffles
are rolled into balls, they are ready to be coated. If they have become too
soft, place them in the refrigerator for 1 to 2 hours until they are firm enough
You can use either a dipping fork or
your hands to dip the truffles in chocolate. To use the fork, drop the truffle
into the bowl of tempered chocolate and then retrieve it with the dipping fork.
Hold the fork over the bowl for several seconds to allow the excess chocolate to
drip back into the bowl. Gently scrape the bottom of the fork against the side
of the bowl to remove any excess chocolate and roll the dipped truffle in the
desired garnish. Place on a parchment paper-covered baking sheet. If you use
your hands, dab some chocolate in the palm of one hand. Roll the truffle in that
palm to completely coat it with chocolate. Place the enrobed truffle on the
baking sheet. Repeat for the remaining truffles. This method is very quick but
it can also be extremely messy.
When all of the truffles have been
coated once, repeat the enrobing procedure. This is necessary only when you
enrobe the truffles by hand rather than with a fork. The truffles are usually
more evenly coated when dipped with a fork. As soon as each truffle gets a
second coating, immediately roll it in the desired garnish. You need to do this
before the chocolate sets or the topping will not adhere. At this stage, it is
good to have a friend help because it is hard to dip and roll at the same time.
Place the truffles on a clean parchment paper-covered baking sheet and allow
them to set, about 5 minutes.
The truffles will keep for up to 2
weeks at room temperature, when stored in an airtight container.
If you decide to roll the truffles by hand, it is important to make sure your
hands are cold. A good trick is to dip your hands in ice water for a few seconds
and then dry them. Do this immediately before rolling the truffles. If your
hands are too warm and the truffles begin to melt while you are rolling them,
redip your hands in the ice water, dry them, and proceed.
To toast coconut: Preheat the oven
to 400°F (204°C). Spread the coconut on a baking sheet and place in the oven for
about 3 minutes. Remove from the oven and stir to keep the sugar in the coconut
from burning. Return to the oven and toast until golden brown, about 3 more
minutes. Remove the baking sheet from the oven and cool on a wire rack.
To toast nuts: Preheat oven to 300°F
(148°C). Spread the nuts evenly on a baking sheet and place in the oven. Toast
for about 30 minutes, until they are golden brown. You will be able to smell the
nuts when they are ready. A good test is to break a nut in half and check to see
if it is light brown on the inside. Toasting nuts brings out their natural
flavor. Remove them from the oven and allow to cool completely on the baking
sheet on a wire rack.
Yield: About 180 truffles