Published January 1, 2012. From Cook's Illustrated.
Turning out dense, creamy, professional-quality chocolate truffles at home was easy—once we found a cure for the grainy texture.
For an inherently simple confection, truffles are surprisingly difficult to get right. The chocolate-to-cream ratio is often off, creating a truffle that’s either overly dense or too soft to hold its shape. Creating a smooth, shiny coating is just as finicky—and then you’ve got the mess of dipping the truffle into it.
We wanted firm, velvety smooth, round truffles that were simple for beginners yet handsome enough to please even the most discriminating chocolatier.
The key to perfecting grainy truffles’ texture is finding a way to loosen them up and smooth them out without pushing them into the realm of chocolate sauce. We started by adding some butter and corn syrup to our ganache, which helped with smoothness.
We then approached the graininess problem from another angle: the mixing method. High-speed mixing methods incorporated too much air into our ganache, which broke the emulsion of cream and chocolate. To limit the amount of air that got into our ganache, we started by premelting the chocolate and cream separately in the microwave. We then stirred the corn syrup, vanilla extract, and salt into the cream and poured the liquid over the mostly melted chocolate. Next, instead of using a whisk—specifically designed to incorporate air—we used a wooden spoon to gradually stir in the butter.
This markedly improved the texture, but there was still room for improvement. It was time to try a technique that we’d come across in our research: Instead of chilling the ganache immediately after mixing it, some chocolatiers allow it to sit at room temperature overnight because the gradual cooling makes for a creamier product. Tests revealed that this technique actually worked, but we didn’t want our recipe to be a two-day affair. Fortunately, we found that just a couple of hours of cooling in a baking dish, followed by some time in the refrigerator, produced the same marvelously creamy texture and firmed the ganache enough that it was easy to work with.
The only remaining glitch: shaping. Once the ganache had cooled sufficiently, we unmolded the mostly solid block, cut it into squares, and rolled them into rounds. This worked perfectly: The chocolate slabs were just soft enough to roll without cracking. Before rolling our truffles in a combination of cocoa powder and confectioners’ sugar, we dusted our hands with the mixture, which kept our warm skin from smearing the chocolate.list of recipes