Grind the chocolate in a food processor until it reaches the consistency of coarse meal, about 30 seconds.
Bring the cream to a boil in a small saucepan over medium heat. Add the cream to the food processor and process until smooth, about 10 seconds.Add the butter and process until smooth, about 10 seconds. Transfer to a medium bowl, cover tightly with plastic wrap, and refrigerate until firm, at least 2 hours or overnight.
Put the cocoa powder in a large bowl. Using 2 teaspoons, drop rounded, heaping teaspoonfuls of truffle mixture onto a large, parchment-lined baking sheet.
When all of the truffles are scooped, dip them in the cocoa and use your palms to roll the truffles into smooth 1-inch balls (don’t worry about making them perfect; slightly irregular truffles have an appealing homemade appearance). Transfer the truffles to the refrigerator.
A shortcut to easy truffles: While pastry chefs typically temper the melted chocolate they use to coat truffles so that they look smooth and shiny, we skip the tempering (which can be tricky) and roll the truffles in cocoa powder or ground nuts right after coating them with melted chocolate. The truffles look great and any imperfections in the chocolate coating are hidden.
Melt the chocolate in a medium heatproof bowl set in a small skillet of barely simmering water, stirring occasionally until smooth.
Transfer the bowl to a work surface. Working in batches, use your fingers or a couple of forks to coat the truffles with the melted chocolate.
Coat them again with cocoa or nuts (see the variations below), and return them to the baking sheet. If using your hands, you’ll have to stop and wash off the chocolate in between batches.
Let the truffles sit at room temperature for at least 15 minutes before serving.
Make Ahead Tips
Truffles will keep for up to 5 days in an airtight container in the refrigerator. Bring them to room temperature before serving.
Once you learn how to make truffles, the flavor possibilities are endless:
Liqueur Filling: Add 3 Tbs. of a flavored liqueur of your choice to the ganache before refrigerating. We like Frangelico, Bailey’s, Godiva, Kahlúa, and amaretto.
Nut Coating: After coating the truffles with melted chocolate, coat them with 1 cup (6 oz.) of your choice of finely chopped toasted nuts instead of cocoa powder. We like almonds, hazelnuts, walnuts, pecans, peanuts, and pistachios. Note that when you use nuts instead of cocoa for the coating, you will still need cocoa to shape the truffles.
Mexican Chocolate: Add 2 Tbs. Kahlúa liqueur, 2 tsp. instant espresso, and 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon to the ganache. Coat the truffles with 1 cup (6 oz.) ground toasted almonds.
Toffee & Fleur de Sel: Add 1/2 cup ground toffee bits (we use Heath Bars and grind them coarsely in a food processor) and 1/4 tsp. fleur de sel to the ganache. Use 1-1/4 cups finely ground toffee bits mixed with 1 tsp. fleur de sel for the coating. (You’ll need a total of six 1.4-oz. Heath Bars.)
PB&J: Add 2/3 cup strawberry jam to the ganache and process until smooth. Coat the truffles with 2 cups (10 oz.) ground salted peanuts. (Yields about 54 truffles because of the added jam.)
Mint: Add 1/2 tsp. pure peppermint extract to the ganache.
nutrition information (per serving):
per truffle, based on 45 servings;
Photo: Scott Phillips