The coating of a truffle is just a diversion, a way to camouflage the simplicity of its creation and the core of its existence — the versatile seductress ganache. The decadent, melt-in-your-mouth chocolate creation is in many ways the playgirl of culinary confections, it looks expensive and complicated, but beneath its illustrious sheen it’s pretty easy.

“Truffles are one of those things that have this stigma about them. People think they are difficult to make but they don’t have to be,” said Melissa Hartman, owner of The Cordial Cherry, an artisan chocolate shop located just south of 180th and Pacific streets.

Hartman offers classes for the novice once per month on the art of making truffles. Participants leave the 1-hour, hands-on experience with 16 truffles and a bowl of ganache to experiment with at home. The next class is Feb. 18 and costs $60 per person. For every friend you bring the cost of the class is reduced by $5 for you and your friend.

A class is a great gift for the connectionist in you’re your life, but if the intention is to surprise your sweet with sweets for the big day then follow these simple steps for a sultry ganache at home every time.

A basic ganache is equal weights of chocolate and cream. That’s it. Like most things in food, you can get creative by infusing the cream and/or adding different liqueurs, butter, honey or oil, but you can also keep it simple. In this case, simple is sexy. Finely chop 8 oz. of a high quality chocolate such as Valrhona, Guittard, Scharffen Berger or Ghirardelli and put it in a bowl. You can find bars (don’t use chips) in the baking section of most grocery stores. Bring 1-cup heavy whipping cream to a low boil then pour it over the chocolate. Let it sit for 2 or 3 minutes then slowly stir until the chocolate is fully incorporated into the cream, this should take about 5 to 7 minutes. If you have solids that haven’t melted, no need to worry. Simply pour the mixture through a fine mesh strainer. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let sit in the refrigerator for about 6 hours until the ganache stiffens.

“The key to making good ganache that is shiny without looking oily is to form a good emulsion. You do not want to incorporate too much air, so use a spatula, do not use a whisk, and work in a circular motion,” explained Janet Mar, chef instructor at the Institute for Culinary Arts at Metropolitan Community College.

Dip, Drape or Dunk

Dipping tender edibles in chocolate is a Valentine’s Day tradition and ganache is the perfect coating. Although strawberries are the typical Valentine’s Day treat think seasonally and dip some citrus instead. Candied lemon, orange or grapefruit peels are a natural pairing for chocolate, but so are candied kumquats an olive-sized fruit bursting with orangey sweetness and lemony tartness, which are sure to overload your lovers taste buds. Once your dipping is done, put fruit or peels on a parchment lined baking sheet and place in the refrigerator for about 15 minutes to set. Ganache dipped fruit can be made a day in advance and kept in the refrigerator until ready to eat.

Everything, including cake, tastes better draped in ganache. Typically a dense, flourless cake welcomes the sleek coating but so will the average cupcake or tart.  It’s as simple as setting the pastry on a round, then placing it on a wire rack. Next pour the liquid ganache over the top of the cake and let it slink down the sides. Top with a few candied kumquats or strawberries to add a pop of color and a fresh flavor to complement the robust chocolate taste.

To make ganache for the coveted truffle use two parts chocolate to one part cream and add 1Tbls of butter for every 4 oz of chocolate. Add the butter to the cream then bring to a boil and follow the directions above. Simply let the mixture cool in the refrigerator, then scoop it into a piping bag or use a melon baller to create bite sized blobs of ganache. Roll it in the palm of your hand to make it more uniform then, roll it in cocoa powder, confectioners sugar or finely chopped nuts. Let’s be honest, if a little chocolate is good more must be better. You can also dunk ganache balls in tempered chocolate then adorn however you please. Tempering chocolate can be time consuming and technically difficult, but ganache is a forgiving and delicate lover. Regardless of what it’s rolled or submerged in, a truffle will keep stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for a few weeks or in the freezer for a few months. 

Now, when the time comes to surprise your significant other with something luscious this Valentine’s Day you’ll be ready.

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