Do you remember the last time you opened an exquisite box of chocolates? Untying the ribbon, lifting the lid, peeling back the wrapping and gazing at them? Their different colors lie before you, and you want to take a tiny taste of all of them, to see which one you want to eat first. It makes you feel happy. It makes me feel happy. Every time.
Great chocolate should have amazing texture and meltability, in my opinion. When you put it in your mouth, if there are not enough fats in the chocolate, it stays cold. And for me that makes the chocolate… well, cold and hard–not something I want to eat. I also think there should be a journey in eating the chocolate: a beginning, middle and end. There should be a flavor arch, and that should remain for a while even after the chocolate is done. This creates that whole Proustian effect: that you have a memory remaining after the sweet is gone.
When you make a food, like chocolate, as a gift, it’s personal. It takes time. It takes thought. It takes commitment—and there’s something really generous in that. Also, when you wrap up your own chocolates, you can get creative with the boxes, bags and jars that are available at your local craft shop. Go for the textures, colors, and materials that you vibe with and use them. You can even get personalized stamps to make your own tags. Or, if you have great handwriting, that always infuses a gift with a personal touch. Right now, I love putting my truffles in tins and adding twine.
These Raspberry Truffles are an intensely flavored bite-size treat. Raspberries and chocolate are a classic dessert combination and delicious in every iteration imaginable. Here the raspberry is introduced into chocolate in the forms of purée, liqueur, and freeze-dried powder.
(Makes about 50 truffles)
Ingredients for the ganache:
6 ounces 38% milk chocolate, finely chopped
6 ounces 61% bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
¾ cup plus 2 tablespoons (5 ounces) raspberry puree
¼ cup (2 ounces) crème fraîche
4 tablespoons (½ stick/2 ounces) unsalted butter, softened
2 tablespoons Chambord
½ cup (2 ounces) 69% bittersweet atomized chocolate
½ cup (2.25 ounces) freeze-dried raspberry powder
1½ pounds still-molten tempered dark milk chocolate (see recipe below)
Line a 9-by-13-by-2-inch baking sheet with parchment paper. Set a large bowl on a dish towel and add the chopped chocolates.
Put the raspberry puree and crème fraîche into a small saucepan and bring just to a boil over medium heat. Pour the mixture over the chocolate and let sit for 1 minute.
Using a small rubber spatula, stir the puree mixture and chocolate together in one direction, concentrating on the center of the mixture, until smooth and glistening, about 2 minutes. Add the butter and stir until it is completely melted, about 1 minute. Stir in the Chambord.
Pour the ganache into the prepared baking pan. Cover the ganache with a second piece of parchment paper. Place the pan in the coolest part of the kitchen and let set, 4 to 6 hours.
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Using a melon baller or teaspoon measure, scoop small balls of the ganache onto the lined pan. Let stand at room temperature for 1 to 2 hours. The truffles will develop a thin crust that will make dipping them substantially easier.
Combine the atomized chocolate and raspberry powder in a baking pan. Dip the truffles in the tempered chocolate, following the directions for the single-fork method below, then roll in the atomized chocolate mixture.
The truffles can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.
Tempered Bittersweet Chocolate
(makes 1 pound)
12 ounces 61% to 75% bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
4 ounces 61% to 75% bittersweet chocolate chips or fèves or solid bar chocolate if you prefer
Melt the finely chopped chocolate, then continue heating it until the chocolate reaches 120°F on an instant-read thermometer.
Add the other chocolate a few pieces at a time, stirring the chocolate constantly with a small silicone spatula. Be sure each addition melts completely before you add more. The chocolate will be in temper when it reaches 88° to 90°F; check the temperature frequently. To test for temper, dip a small offset spatula in the chocolate and put the spatula on your work surface. If the chocolate sets within 2 to 3 minutes and looks shiny and smooth, it is in temper. If the chocolate looks streaky or spotted or doesn’t set, it is not in temper. Continue stirring and then test the chocolate again—sometimes the components need a little extra agitation before they can unify.
Once the chocolate is tempered, work efficiently; the temper will hold for about 20 minutes.
For 1½ pounds tempered chocolate: Use 18 ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped, and 6 ounces bittersweet chocolate chips or fèves.
Note: For 2 pounds tempered chocolate: Use 1½ pounds bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped, and 8 ounces bittersweet chocolate chips or fèves.
Using a dipping fork, submerge the truffle or toffee in the tempered chocolate, then lift it up and tap the fork against the edge of the bowl so excess chocolate drips back into the bowl. Place the chocolate on the coating and wait for about 20 seconds before covering it with the coating. Let the chocolate sit for 5 minutes to set before moving to a parchment-lined baking sheet.
The above was adapted from Valerie Gordon’s cookbook Sweet (Artisan, 2013). Gordon is the award-winning chocolatier behind Valerie Chocolates.