With Valentine’s Day right around the corner, you can’t turn around without seeing a box of some kind of chocolates. Those boxes, though, contain potential land mines of sugary sweetness with no balance to keep your teeth from aching, as well as who knows what preservatives and syrups in the fillings. Sure, they’re a nostalgic treat, but if you really want to step up your game this V-Day, you should make your own.
You can avoid tastes and flavors your recipient doesn’t like, not to mention potential allergens. Besides, it’s much more impressive to show up with a box of homemade truffles than to look like you panicked and bought the last heart-shaped box from your corner drugstore. With the crazed buying frenzy and unstocked shelves, it may even be easier to make your own rather than fight your way through the aisles.
We’ll focus on dense, decadent truffles instead of filled chocolates, because that’s a ridiculous thing to ask a home cook to do. Besides, truffles are way classier. There’s really only one thing that can go wrong: Your chocolate or ganache breaks. Don’t fret, and don’t throw it away.
Chocolate is an emulsion, a homogenous blend of fat and liquid. When it separates, it’s called breaking. To avoid it, don’t get water in the bowl while you’re heating it. To fix it, add more fat and heat gently, stirring, until it comes back together. Cream, butter, and coconut oil are all good additions to fix broken ganache. And, OK, there’s one more thing that can go wrong: You can burn your chocolate. There’s no coming back from that one. You should start over. Gently.
1. Basic Bittersweet Truffle
This truffle is the base recipe that can be most easily adapted to taste by what you roll the little balls in. With just the one batch of ganache, you can have a whole box of differently accented flavors without the trouble of actually making different truffles. It’s a quick, practical way to make truffles, and it of course comes from Martha Stewart.
- 8 ounces best-quality bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
- ½ cup heavy cream
- Crushed peppermint candies
- Toasted unsweetened shredded coconut
- Crushed nuts, such as pistachios
- Cocoa powder
Directions: Place chocolate in a medium bowl. Bring cream to a boil in a small saucepan over medium-high heat; pour over chocolate. Let sit 2 to 3 minutes, then whisk until smooth. Refrigerate uncovered until somewhat firm, about 1 hour.
Spoon 2-teaspoon mounds of ganache onto a baking sheet lined with parchment, wax paper, or a silpat. Refrigerate for an additional 15 minutes.
With your hands, roll mounds into balls. Roll in the coatings, pressing gently to fully adhere, and return to the baking sheet. Chill until set, about 30 minutes.
2. Chocolate Truffles With Sea Salt
The sprinkle of sea salt on these truffles from The Pioneer Woman creates a depth of flavor in the chocolate and a bright pop on the tastebuds. You want to use something flaky like Maldon salt here, though you could also use a finer-grain Himalayan salt for a holiday-appropriate splash of pink.
Whenever you melt chocolate to create a candy coating, you want to temper it. This is the process of rearranging the molecules in the chocolate to be, for lack of a better word, sturdier. It keeps the chocolate from blooming (that unattractive white streaking or blotching that happens when chocolate warms and cools again), to help it cool and harden faster, to keep it from immediately melting on your fingers, and to create a glossy, shiny appearance. David Lebovitz describes a quick, fairly foolproof method that relies only on a candy thermometer.
- 8 ounces by weight of good semisweet chocolate
- 8 ounces by weight of good bittersweet chocolate
- 1 can sweetened, condensed milk
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
- 8 ounces by weight of milk chocolate
- Sea salt
Directions: Heat semisweet and bittersweet chocolates over medium-low heat in a double boiler until chocolate is melted. Remove from heat, cover, and refrigerate for 2 hours.
Once chilled, roll into balls and dip in tempered milk chocolate. Sprinkle with sea salt and chill.
3. Cookies and Cream Truffles
For something a little more quirky, these “rich, velvety bites from heaven” Cookies and Cream truffles from She Knows require very little time and effort and provide big results. Again, you’ll want to temper your chocolate for the best results. To decorate, drizzle with melted, tempered white chocolate by snipping a tiny bit off the corner of a zip-top bag full of the melted chocolate and piping onto the cooled, dipped truffles.
- 1 (16-ounce) package of Oreo Cookies
- 8 ounces cream cheese, softened
- 2¼ cups chocolate candy melts or good quality chocolate
Directions: Line a baking sheet with parchment or wax paper. Place Oreos into the food processor and pulse until finely ground.
Mix cream cheese and cookie crumbs until well combined.
Using a small cookie scoop, about 2 teaspoons volume, measure and form approximately 36 truffles.
Temper the chocolate and dip the truffle balls in, placing each on the prepared sheet to chill.
4. Spicy Mayan Chocolate Truffles
Add a little heat to your Valentine’s Day with these fiery truffles from Cooking on the Weekends. Though the recipe calls for cayenne, if you prefer the taste of chili without such a blast of heat, you can use bright-flavored guajillo chilies as a substitute.
- 2 pounds finely chopped, bittersweet chocolate, divided
- ¾ cup heavy cream
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- Red sanding sugar for decoration
Directions: Put 12 ounces chocolate by weight into a heatproof bowl and set aside.
In a medium saucepan, scald the cream. Scalded cream will be bubbling around the edges but not boiling. Remove from heat and immediately stir in vanilla, then pour over the 12 ounces chocolate. Let stand for 4 minutes and stir to blend. Stir in the cayenne and cinnamon, then set aside until it comes to room temperature. Cover with plastic and chill thoroughly, up to overnight.
When the ganache is chilled, line 2 baking sheets with parchment, wax paper, or a silpat and use a 1-inch cookie scoop to shape about 5 dozen little balls. Chill again for 30 minutes. While they’re chilling, temper the remaining chocolate in a double boiler. Dip each truffle into the chocolate and then place back on the baking sheet. Once the truffles are half-set, sprinkle with the red sanding sugar and return to the fridge to chill the rest of the way.
5. Chocolate-Covered Raspberry Truffles
Because these truffles are coated in cocoa powder, you don’t need to temper any chocolate. Though raspberries are a to-die-for filling for these truffles from Gourmet, you could easily replace them with cherries for a less liquidy spin on boxed Chocolate Cherries. Gourmet warns to not use bittersweet chocolate with more than 60% cacao for this recipe.
- ¼ cup heavy cream
- 7 ounces fine-quality bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped in a food processor
- 1½ tablespoons framboise or brandy
- 6 ounces fresh raspberries
- ¾ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
Directions: Line a tray with wax, parchment, or a silpat. Set aside.
Bring cream to barely a simmer over moderate heat. Remove from heat, then add chocolate and stir until smooth. Stir in framboise.
If raspberries are damp, pat dry. Add 6 to 8 raspberries to ganache and gently fold in to coat using rubber spatula. Remove each chocolate-covered raspberry with 2 forks, shifting it from one fork to the other to let excess ganache drip off, then transfer to tray. Coat remaining raspberries in same manner, working in batches of 6 to 8.
Chill truffles until firm, at least 1 hour, then loosen from wax paper.
Put cocoa in a sealable bag and add all of truffles. Seal bag, leaving some air in, and shake to coat. Empty bag into a shallow bowl. Transfer coated truffles to a platter with your fingers, shaking off excess cocoa. Keep chilled until ready to serve.
6. White Chocolate Peppermint Ganache Truffles
If your significant other loves peppermint bark around the holidays, you’ll win major points by making a batch of these high-contrast, dark-chocolate-dipped white chocolate peppermint ganache truffles from Not Without Salt. For full effect, finish with crushed candy canes.
- 1 pound white chocolate, finely chopped
- ½ cup heavy cream
- 2 tablespoons butter, soft
- 1 to 2 drops peppermint extract
- ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
- 8 ounces dark chocolate
Directions: In a small saucepan, bring the cream to a simmer. Place the chopped chocolate in a medium bowl. Pour the hot cream over the chocolate and let sit for 1 minute. Stir until completely blended. Add the softened butter. Stir in salt and peppermint extract.
Either let cool and then pipe into drops the size of a Hershey Kiss onto a lined baking sheet, or let chill completely and roll into 1-inch balls like you would with previous recipes. Let chill.
Temper the dark chocolate and dip the white chocolate balls, coating completely. When the chocolate is half-set, gently press crushed candy canes into the chocolate. Chill until firm.
7. Coconut Ganache Bourbon Balls
Perhaps your significant other is more into bourbon than champagne. In that case, you can’t go wrong with these coconut ganache bourbon balls from The Kitchn. They have more going on in the texture department than a simple ganache, but they’re also majorly impressive. You can make your cane syrup, use one like Steen’s, or replace with corn syrup.
- 2 cups vanilla wafers or Graham cracker crumbs, finely ground
- 2 cups finely chopped pecans
- 1 cup confectioners’ sugar, sifted
- 4 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
- ½ cup bourbon or whiskey
- 6 tablespoons cane syrup or corn syrup
Ganache and topping
- 2 cups sweetened coconut flakes
- 1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
- 4 tablespoons heavy cream
Directions: In a large bowl, combine cookie crumbs, pecans, confectioners’ sugar, and cocoa powder. In another bowl, whisk together bourbon and syrup, and then combine thoroughly with dry mixture. Allow to sit for a few minutes.
Using a small scoop, spoon out rounds of the bourbon ball mixture, mashing flat against the side of the bowl to create a flat bottom. Release onto a lined sheet pan.
In a food processor, process coconut flakes into small bits. Combine chocolate chips and heavy cream in a glass bowl and microwave 1 minute to 1 minute and 20 seconds. Stir until chocolate is melted and glossy.
Dip bourbon balls in melted chocolate, reheating chocolate as necessary, and place on a cooling rack set on top of wax paper. Sprinkle coconut on top of balls, using fingers to cover the sides thoroughly. Allow to set for at least a couple of hours, or overnight if possible.
8. Homemade Ferrero Rocher Truffles
You could wrap these in gold foil or you could just stuff them in your mouth. If the store-bought variety tends to be too sweet for your tastes, dial the sugar way down by making your own Nutella. These chocolates from Handle the Heat are the same favorite combination of crunchy and fudgy, but instead of 3, you can have 100 of them. Seriously, this recipe makes about 100 truffles. Scale down if you don’t want to shower your significant other in chocolate hazelnut candies.
- 3 cups crushed hazelnut wafer cookies like Pepperidge Farm’s Pirouettes
- 3 cups finely chopped toasted hazelnuts
- 1¼ cups Nutella
- 1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
- 1 teaspoon coconut oil
- 1½ cups finely chopped toasted hazelnuts
Directions: Line a baking sheet with a nonstick baking mat or parchment paper. In a large bowl, combine the crushed hazelnut wafer cookies, hazelnuts, and Nutella until well combined. Mixture will be sticky. Chill the mixture in the refrigerator until firm enough to shape, about 30 minutes. Shape into ½-ounce balls about the size of a teaspoon. Place balls on prepared baking sheet, then chill in the freezer until hardened, about 15 minutes.
Meanwhile, combine the chocolate and oil in a medium microwave-safe bowl and microwave in 30-second bursts, stirring between each burst, until the mixture is melted and smooth. Stir in the chopped hazelnuts. Let the mixture cool slightly.
Using a toothpick, dip each chilled truffle into chocolate, coat completely, then place back on the baking sheet. Once all the truffles are dipped, place the baking sheet in the refrigerator until the chocolate coating has hardened, about 15 minutes.