Okay, so last week I bombarded you with amazing gift ideas for your favorite guy, gal, kid, novice home cook, and even some things for the chefiest-chef you know. But, what happens when Amazon just won’t get your gifts to you on time? Have no fear! Food is here! Seriously, some of the best gifts are those that are homemade and edible. So, I’m going to show you how to make these Christmas Chocolate Truffles. You can knock these bad boys out over the weekend and walk around blessing people with Christmas Truffles like some bougie Santa Claus.
Pick your Christmas Poison
The cool thing about these Christmas Truffles is how you can adapt the recipe to suit your cravings. Because I love darker chocolates, I use fifty-five percent cacao or darker (sometimes going as high as eighty percent). What does that percentage mean? Basically, when you see the percentage on a bag of chocolate, you’re seeing how much of the cocoa bean is in there. The higher the percentage, the more cocoa (chocolate) you’re going to taste. The remainder is all of the fillers the manufacturer has mixed into the cocoa to make the product taste good. For these Christmas Truffles, I’m going with a midline chocolate because I’m going to gift them and others may not be as fanatical about the dark stuff as I am.
I would avoid using milk chocolate just because it has a higher amount of fillers so the chocolate gets lost, which doesn’t make for a decadent truffle.
Customizing your Christmas Chocolate Truffles
I know it seems like truffles are elite, pretentious confections, but in reality, the are the simplest of candies to make. They’re just chocolate and cream, ie. chocolate ganache. The wonder comes from the way the duo comes together and how the truffle is coated. Do a bad job of coating your truffle and it goes from beautiful dessert to, “What the hell is that?”
Flavoring your Christmas truffle is up to you. I’m going to give you five versions that seem to be the most popular of the ones I’ve gifted to my friends: Candy Cane, Mocha, Orange, Mexican Spiced, and the traditional Christmas Chocolate Truffle. You’ll need your preferred type of chocolate: again, I recommend fifty percent cacao or higher. The remaining ingredients are heavy cream and your flavoring. Orange extract, instant coffee flakes, cinnamon and chili, vanilla extract, or peppermint extract. *A note on the peppermint extract for the candy cane truffles: buy “peppermint extract“, not “mint extract”. Mint extract tastes like spearmint which is so unlike candy canes. Trust me on this one.*
To decorate your truffles: zest one orange, crush some candy canes, mix together a teaspoon of ground cinnamon and a half-teaspoon of cayenne pepper, and grab some instant coffee granules. So, let’s get to it!
Heat the Cream and Let it Melt…
…the chocolate that is. Normally, you’d make ganache over a double-boiler. I’ve found that heating the heavy cream in a small saucepan gets the job done with less dishes to clean. Heat the cream over medium heat until you see steam coming off of the surface. Note: if you’re making just the Mexican Spiced Christmas Truffles, you need to steep a couple of dried chilies in the cream. Ancho chilies have a great flavor that pairs magnificently with chocolate. Just use one if the chilies are large. You’ll need to strain the cream as you pour it into the chocolate, but we’ll get to that later.
Once the cream has begun to steam, pour it over the chocolate in the bowl (remember to strain the chili pepper if you’ve steeped it in the cream). Allow the cream to slowly melt the chocolate for five minutes.
Slowly whisk the ganache until it’s smooth
Like thiiiiiiiiiiiiiisssssssss. It’s sooooo freaking smooth. I have so many issues. Ugh! But it’s so beautiful. Okay, let’s move on. You’ll need the chocolate to sit at room temperature, and firm up, for about an hour. Stir it with the whisk occasionally during that hour so you’re not left with chunks of chocolate here and there. If your chocolate gets too stiff to stir, heat it over a double-boiler and start the cooling down again.
Scooping and Rolling
The surest sign of an amateur candy-maker is someone who’s created a ratchet-looking ball of chocolate and tries to pass it off as an elegant truffle. While you can certainly wrestle the chocolate out of a regular tablespoon, it’ll will definitely look like that’s what went down. I know that using a number 40 portion scoop , instead, is the way to go. Since my goal is always to teach you, my dear friend, how to get restaurant-quality results in your kitchen, we’re going to make these truffles the right way.
So, once your ganache is the consistency of peanut butter, grab your portion scoop and scoop out the ganache. This size scoop will give you two bites of truffle, which, to me, is perfect. You start scooping while the ganache is this particular consistency because as you work it’s going to continue to firm up. Level off the bottom of the chocolate you scoop by scraping it along the rim of the bowl; this ensures you have truffles that are the same size. Scoop them onto a parchment-lined sheet pan.
Because we’re dealing with chocolate that’s literally tempramental, we need to work quickly. I wear gloves when I’m forming my truffles into balls because it creates a barrier between my warm hands and the fickle chocolate. It also keeps my hands free of chocolate residue. Roll your chocolate balls between the palms of your hands to form them into round balls. Once you’ve shaped all your truffles, put them into the fridge to harden up.
The Quick-Tempering of the Outer Coating
While chocolatiers will cringe at what I’m about to tell you, I’ll defend myself by saying that most people don’t have the time, equipment, or desire to temper chocolate the professional way. That said, this method gets the job done with minimal tools, and it gets it done quickly- so there! You’ll need a good quality chocolate to cover your truffles. I increase my cacao percentage to between sixty and seventy for the outer coating.
In a small mixing bowl, pour in two-thirds of the chocolate. Heat it in the microwave for one minute. Remove it and stir the chocolate with a rubber spatula. There will still be pieces of unmelted chocolate, so return it to the microwave and nuke it for one more minute. Stir again, if the chocolate is still lumpy, return it the microwave and cook for an additional thirty seconds.
Once the chocolate is smooth and very fluid, dab a small amount of the chocolate onto the skin of your inner wrist. It should sting a little when it touches that sensitive part of your wrist; if it does, it is now ready for you to add the remaining chocolate. You can stir it in slowly to temper the chocolate. If the chocolate is too cool when you test it against your skin, heat it for thirty seconds more in the microwave. If it’s too hot, stir it until it cools to the proper temperature.
You have just tempered chocolate. Take a bow, my friend!
Coating the Professional Way
Again, the beauty of these Christmas truffles is in the way we roll and coat them. We ain’t handing out no bootleg-looking candies to our people around here! Using a candy dipper to hold your truffle is the best way to get that smooth exterior coating. The tempering we did earlier is what’s going to give these Christmas truffles that glossy appearance and that signature snap when your recipient bites into it. Place a truffle onto your candy dipper, and using another spoon, pour a blanket of chocolate on to the truffle.
One of the techniques you need to know when coating truffles is the spastic tap-tap-tap that must be done. In big candy stores, the chocolatier has a machine that shimmies and shakes the covered candies to remove that excess chocolate. Gently, but rapidly, tap the candy dipper against the top rim of the bowl. Allow the chocolate to drip off back into the bowl and give the bottom of the truffle a gentle scrape against the side of the bowl before transferring it to the sheet pan. Once it’s been tapped off, carefully transfer the truffle to another parchment-lined sheet pan. I like to use a toothpick to help slide it off the candy dipper. Lovely! Now just leave the truffles on the counter to give that outer coating a chance to set up.
Keep in mind that you have to work somewhat fast because you don’t want the chocolate in the bowl to harden while you’re dipping the truffles. If I know I’ll have a lot of truffles to dip, I’ll set the bowl on a heating pad and stir it regularly to keep the chocolate from hardening.
Now for the Fun Part
I like to decorate the Christmas truffles in a way that if some of the garnish from one gets on the other it won’t taste too bad. I mean, you could garnish them on separate pans, but…hulloh? Dishes! I ain’t got time for it.
So, I start with the Mexican Spiced Christmas Chocolate Truffles (that’s a mouthful, huh?). I measure out a teaspoon of ground cinnamon and a half-teaspoon of cayenne pepper and stir them to combine. I put this spice mix into a tea strainer that I use as a sifter. Because it is small enough to control, it’s the perfect duster for small items like these truffles. Dust them, but don’t go all wild (I mean, unless you know they’ll like cayenne), they do pack a punch.
For the mocha truffles, I sprinkle some instant coffee flakes on top of the truffles thirty seconds after they’ve been dipped. So, you can dip four or five, then by the time you’ve set down the fifth truffle, the first one will be ready for you to garnish. With these flakes, if you sprinkle them on too soon (while the chocolate is still wet), they will dissolve. It won’t mess up the flavor, but they won’t look good.
Grab a pinch of the orange zest from earlier and, as with the coffee flakes, wait a few seconds after dipping before sprinkling them on. If you add them right after you’ve dipped the truffles, the weight of the zest will cause the chocolate and the zest to slide off of the truffle. That would be horrific.
The crushed candy canes will receive the same treatment as the coffee granules and orange zest. Wait a few seconds then sprinkle on as much as you like.
For the plain chocolate Christmas truffles, I like to fill a parchment piping bag with some of that tempered chocolate and drizzle it on. Simple, yet elegant.
Package and Gift
Once you’ve finished dipping and garnishing your Christmas truffles, allow them to set up for at least one hour. This ensures they won’t smudge when you pick them up. As with the rolling, I handle the truffles while wearing gloves so as not to leave fingerprints. Transfer the truffles to candy cups and pack them in a cute gift box to wow your friends. These truffles may be kept at room temperature, but I prefer to keep them in the fridge. They’re good for one week after making them.
You can’t beat a beautiful, homemade, and EDIBLE gift for the holidays. With five different versions of these Christmas Chocolate Truffles, you’re bound to please everyone you love. Pin this recipe to for easy reference and give the gift of truffles this year!
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Christmas Chocolate Truffles
Chocolate Ganache (Interior)
- 4 cups heavy cream
- 2 12 ounce bags chocolate chips (55% cacao or higher)
- 1 teaspoon extract or flavoring see note
- pinch kosher salt
- 1 large ancho chili, dried (use only if making the Mexican Spiced truffles)
- 2 12 ounce bags good quality dark chocolate chips (60% or higher)
Mexican Spiced Christmas Truffles
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
Mocha Christmas Truffles
- instant coffee
Orange Christmas Truffles
- zest of 1 orange, dried between paper towels for 1 hour
Candy Cane (Peppermint) Christmas Truffles
- candy canes, crushed
- In a small sauce pan, heat the cream over medium heat until you see steam coming off of the surface.
- Note: if you're making Mexican Spiced Christmas Truffles, add the chili to the cream to infuse its flavor into the cream.
- While you're waiting for your cream to steam, combine the chocolate chips and your desired flavoring (see note) together in a mixing bowl.
- Once the cream has begun to steam, pour it over the chocolate in the bowl (strain the chili pepper if you've steeped it in the cream). Allow the cream to melt the chocolate for 5 minutes, then slowly whisk the ganache until it's smooth.
- Allow the chocolate to sit at room temperature, and firm up, for about 1 hour. Stir it occasionally to ensure it stays smooth. If your chocolate gets too stiff to stir, heat it over a double-boiler and start the process again.
Scoop and Roll the Truffles
- Once your ganache is the consistency of peanut butter, use a #40 portion scoop to form the ganache. Level off the bottom of the chocolate you scoop by scraping it along the rim of the bowl, then drop them onto a parchment-lined sheet pan.
- Wearing gloves, roll the scoops of chocolate between the palms of your hands to form them into balls. Once you've shaped all your truffles, put them into the fridge to harden up.
Temper the Couverture
- In a small mixing bowl, heat two-thirds of the dark chocolate in a microwave for 1 minute. Stir the chocolate with a rubber spatula. There will still be pieces of unmelted chocolate, so return it to the microwave and nuke it for one more minute. Stir again, if the chocolate is still lumpy, return it the microwave and cook for an additional 30 seconds.
- Once the chocolate is smooth and runny, dab a small amount of the chocolate onto the skin of your inner wrist. If it stings a little when it touches that sensitive part of your wrist, it is now ready for you to add the remaining chocolate. Stir it in slowly. If the chocolate is too cool when you test it against your skin, heat it in the microwave for an additional 30 seconds. If it's too hot, stir it until it cools to the proper temperature.
- Place a truffle onto a candy dipper and use another spoon to ladle the tempered chocolate over the truffle.
- Gently, but rapidly, tap the candy dipper against the top rim of the bowl to encourage the chocolate to drip off the truffle and back into the bowl. Give the bottom of the truffle a gentle scrape against the side of the bowl before transferring it to the sheet pan. (Use a toothpick to help slide it off the candy dipper.)
- Leave the truffles to sit on the counter and allow the truffles' coating to harden slightly. If you are garnishing do so while the coating is still a little soft.
- For plain Chocolate Christmas Truffles: fill a parchment piping bag with the remaining tempered chocolate and drizzle it onto the truffles.
Mexican Spiced Christmas Truffles
- Combine the ground cinnamon and cayenne pepper in a small bowl. Transfer this spice mix to a tea strainer or a small sifter.
- Lightly dust the tops of the truffles with the spice mix.
Mocha Christmas Truffles
- Garnish with a generous pinch of instant coffee flakes.
Orange Christmas Truffles
- Sprinkle dried orange zest onto each of the truffles.
Candy Cane Christmas Truffles
- Sprinkle a generous amount of the crushed candy canes onto each of the truffles.
Package and Gift
- Once you've dipped and garnished the truffles, allow them to set up for at least 1 hour.
- Handle the truffles while wearing gloves so as not to leave fingerprints. Transfer the truffles to candy cups, then pack them in a gift boxes if desired.
- Use your choice of extracts. For the flavors given here, use orange extract, coffee extract, cinnamon extract, or peppermint extract. Be sure to use "peppermint extract", and not "mint extract". Mint extract tastes like spearmint which is not the flavor you want.
- Try to work quickly to prevent the chocolate in the bowl from hardening while you're dipping the truffles. If you will be dipping a lot of truffles, set your bowl of tempered chocolate on a heating pad set on low, and stir it regularly to keep the chocolate from hardening.
- These truffles may be kept at room temperature or in the fridge, for up to 1 week after making them.
Check out these other recipes that are perfect for gifting: