Remember in Madonna's Material Girl video, she falls for the guy with the old pick-up truck who gives her a bunch of just-plucked daisies? It was the humble, salt-of-the-earth gesture that got her to eschew the jewels, right? That, or maybe she knew he was a big-time studio exec the whole time.
Chocolate ganache truffles get it right on both counts, making them the perfect DIY Valentine's Day gift. In their simplest version, they are not at all hard to make. All you need to do is make the ganache from chocolate and cream, which is whisked into an emulsion. Once it sets, the ganache is balled up and rolled in cocoa powder to resemble the fungus they're named after. They have a big, luxurious chocolate flavor.
If you want, you can get a little fancy while still saying, "I made them myself—just for you." Mix in liqueurs, nuts, or spices. Form them into spheres. If you feel confident in your chocolate-working skills, gussy them up by dipping them in melted tempered chocolate and garnishing the outside.
Once you've made your truffles, wrap them up in a gift bag or serve them on a platter, placing each one in a mini-muffin liner. Or, wipe your hands on the back of your overalls and offer them straight up. Whoever gets them will feel very special.
And to get the ball rolling with flavor ideas, here are a few variations.
Flowers and chocolate all rolled in one. Mix 2 tablespoons seedless raspberry jam with 1 tablespoon rosewater. Add to ½ cup boiled cream along with 8 ounces chopped chocolate. Roll in cocoa powder or enrobe in tempered chocolate and garnish with crystallized rose petals.
Milk Chocolate and Sunflower Seed
This one is really simple. I used less cream here with the milk chocolate, about 3 parts chocolate to cream. Gently stir in ¼ cup toasted and cooled sunflower seeds for every 8 ounces of chocolate into the cooled, but not yet set ganache. Once set, form the balls and roll in cocoa powder.
Add a pinch of saffron threads to ½ cup heavy cream and bring to a simmer. Turn off heat and let mixture steep for 10 minutes. Strain and bring cream to a brief boil. Add 1 tablespoon of Grand Marnier to the cream along with 8 ounces of chopped chocolate. Once set and formed, roll the truffles in cocoa powder or enrobe with melted tempered chocolate and garnish with dehydrated orange zest.
Salt and Pepper
Grind a few twists of black pepper into the ½ cup of hot milk, along with the 8 ounces chopped chocolate, 1 tablespoon room temperature butter, and 1 teaspoon vanilla. When the ganache is set, sprinkle in up to ½ teaspoon of coarse sea salt as you scoop and form the truffles.
About the author: Kumiko writes the blog Recipe Interrupted. She believes that having a few cooking techniques under your belt can help make home cooking creative and easy, and is excited to share her tips with the Serious Eats community. A graduate of Brown University, the Institute of Culinary Education, and a mother of two hungry girls, Kumiko is always trying to keep her Brooklyn kitchen smelling of something good.