Truffles are nothing but ganache, which is a basic culinary technique every cook should know. It’s super easy, and super-versatile. Once you master it (which doesn’t take long) the possibilities are endless. The recipe is nothing new. Here, though, I finish them with a pinch of artisan salt, which has replaced the coating of cocoa powder and drizzles of chocolate that have long been standard. The sweet-salt burst is unforgettable, and irresistible.
1 pound bittersweet chocolate, divided
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
¼ teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon unrefined salt – try a fine grind Himalayan, Bolivian, or Mongolian rock salt, any good flake salt, a smoked salt, or a salt infused with matcha, vanilla, bourbon, red wine, lavender, rose, sweet spice, or orange
1 cup heavy cream
- Chop the chocolate into small pieces. Place half in a clean dry bowl and set is aside. Place the other half in a bowl along with the butter, vanilla, and ½ teaspoon salt. Warm the cream in a small saucepan over medium-high heat. As soon as it starts to boil, remove it from the heat and pour it over the chocolate-butter bowl. Shake the bowl so that that all the chocolate is submerged, then set aside, untouched, for 5 minutes.
- At the 5-minute mark whisk smooth. Set the ganache aside to set. You can refrigerate it here is you are in a hurry. As soon as the ganache is firm, form it into small balls, either by hand, or using a 1/6-1/4 ounce ice cream scoop, and place them on a parchment lined baking sheet. Chill for 10 minutes.
- Melt remaining chocolate over a double boiler. Have at the ready a trivet, or something to set the hot pot on, a clean tray lined with parchment paper, and a few sheets of extra parchment paper. Remove the double boiler from the heat and set it on the trivet. Drop chilled truffles into the melted chocolate. Fish them out with a fork, then tap the fork on the edge of the pot, encouraging the excess chocolate to drip back into the pot. Now rub the fork along the extra sheets of parchment to clean the foot, and finally place on the clean, parchment lined tray. Immediately sprinkle with another tiny pinch of salt. Repeat with the remaining balls of ganache. Because the chocolate is not tempered, store these in the refrigerator until ready to serve. I like to serve them in small candy cups, or on a clean, dry salt block.
Dip-Free – instead of dipping the ganache balls in melted chocolate, you can serve them the original way, rolled in cocoa powder to simulate the dirt on the outside of the truffle fungus. (Leave it to the French to make dirt appealing.) You can also roll it in powdered sugar, finely ground espresso beans, finely ground toasted nuts, or toasted coconut. You can even mix your salt into these powders for an amazing effect.
Spiced – There are a million other ways to flavor dark chocolate truffles, but with the salt I like to keep it simple. If you are really feeling exotic, though, try adding ½ teaspoon of cardamom, ground toasted anise, or your favorite chile powder.