Valentine's Day = Chocolate. Why don't we just call it "Chocolate Day"?
Being the chocoholic that I am, I decided to try and make my own. I have a friend that makes tea infused chocolate truffles. I thought I would give that recipe a try. I think his recipe tastes similar to one I found. The recipe I was given didn't offer many specific steps. I used the recipe for some of the ingredients and then decided for myself the steps to create the truffles.
The process is rather easy once you get the chocolate selected correctly. Have you ever been to a shop with 25+ varieties of chocolate to choose from? All of these options make it difficult to choose! The recipe called for both extra bittersweet chocolate and bittersweet chocolate. The "bitter" or "sweet" of the chocolate has to do with the cocoa percentage. The higher the percentage the more bitter and less sweet the chocolate. Bittersweet starts at 50% cocoa solids. Less than 50% cocoa solids is semi-sweet. 99% cocoa solids is an unsweeted baking chocolate the most bitter and least sweet. I decided for my recipe I would use a bittersweet chocolate in two varieties: 70% and 72%. I tend to be someone who loves a dark (more bitter) chocolate. Next time, I thought I would try something darker, but my choices ended up great in this recipe. I don't think I will change the percentages next time but maybe try different brands. To melt chocolate, it's best to buy it in bars and not chips. Chips contain less cocoa butter so that they can hold their shape in cookies, but this makes them harder to melt and less tasty.
There is a choice to be made regarding the type of cocoa that is used for your truffles. There is a difference between "regular cocoa" and "dutch processed". If the cocoa
is dark almost black, it is of the "regular" or "natural" variety. If you are looking at a brick red colored cocoa, it is "dutch processed" or "European chocolate". Dutch processed cocoa powder has been treated with an alkali which neutralizes the powder’s natural acidity. The result is a smooth and milder flavor than natural cocoa powder. It's the preferred cocoa (depending on who you speak to). I read a lot about the different types of cocoa and I found many people also prefer the "natural" cocoa for drinking. Hershey's is a common regular or natural cocoa brand. Natural cocoa is also used for baking and the dust on candies and cakes.The package will not say "natural". It will just say cocoa. It is stronger, dark and more bitter compared to dutch processed.Tea Infused Chocolate Truffles:1-1/2 Cups of Heavy Cream
1/4 cup loose tea leaves
, not bags. I used Earl Grey but I am excited at the thought of how different teas can be used to infuse different flavors into the truffles. I encourage you to experiment!5 ounces extra-bittersweet chocolate
(I used 72% Cocoa), finely chopped5 ounces bittersweet chocolate
(I used 70% Cocoa), coarsely chopped1 cup unsweetened dutch-processed cocoa powder
(I used Valrhona, unsweetened, dutch processed).
In a small saucepan, bring the heavy cream and tea leaves to a simmer. Turn off the heat and let the mixture infuse for 2 minutes. The tea leaves will become larger as they absorb the liquid of the cream.
Chop the extra-bittersweet chocolate (5 ounces)in a food processor for 5-6 pulses. Place this chopped chocolate in a bowl. Strain the hot cream over the chocolate, discarding the tea leaves. Depending on the size strainer, this may take a few times using the strainer and dumping out the tea leaves each time to allow the milk to strain properly onto the chocolate. I use a spoon in the strainer to push the tea leaves side to side to allow the cream to flow. The original recipe called out for only a 1-1/4 Cup of cream but I found I needed a little more to melt the chocolate properly. I use a total of 1-1/2 Cups of cream. After the cream is poured onto the chocolate, let the mixture rest for 1 minute, then whisk until the chooclate is melted and smooth. Cover the chocolate with plastic wrap and chill until the mixture is set. This will take about 4-6 hours.
After the chocolate has set, use a teaspoon to scoop out each truffle. You may wish to try a melon baller but I found a teaspoon worked just fine. Roll each piece of scooped chocolate in your hands to make rounded balls. This is very messy! Try to keep the balls consistent in size. The size should be about the size of a large gum ball or smaller. Refrigerate the truffles for 30 minutes to firm them.
Using a double boiler or a metal bowl suspended over a pot of simmering water, melt two thirds of the bittersweet chocolate. After the chocolate is melted, remove the boiler top or bowl from over the water and add the remaining chopped chocolate. (This time, I chopped the chocolate into larger pieces with a large knife). Stir continously until the chocolate is melted and smooth and feels room temperature. This tempers the chocolate (giving it a sheen and crispness).
Next, (This is the fun part!) place the cocoa powder in a medium bowl. Drop the chocolate balls one by one into the melted chocolate, turning them with a fork to coat them. Lift the truffle ball out of the chocolate and drop them into the cocoa powder. I found using a fork for the chocolate along with a wooden spoon helped to roll the chocolate over the ball more evenly. I also used a separate fork to roll the ball into the cocoa until they are completely coated.
The truffles keep for about five days. So, eat them while they are fresh! Depending on the size you make your chocolate ball, this recipe (large gumball size) will make about 20 truffles. The truffles are very rich so a smaller bite size ball is appropriate.