For you, dear reader, and in order to form a more perfect truffle for eating and gifting, I have taken it upon myself to make and consume forty-five truffles made with fifteen different recipes. I want to discover a recipe that is a) delicious, and b) does not lose emulsion when left at room temperature for seven days (to allow time for shipping as Christmas gifts). Let the experiments begin!
Ingredients to test:
I tried four different proportions of butter and cream (all cream, half-and-half, mostly butter, and all butter), five different types of cream (sweetened condensed, evaporated milk, canned table cream, cream cheese, and regular cream), three sweetener additives (honey, maple syrup, corn syrup), and three other kinds of additives (whiskey, canola oil, red wine). Other than the proportional experiments, all of the truffles were made with half cream and half butter as the base.
Basic Ganache instructions:
To make a ganache, chop your chocolate finely (I used Ghirardelli 60% chocolate chips). Melt your non-chocolate ingredients together on a stove until they just begin to simmer, stirring frequently (cream has a tendency to burn). At that point take it off the heat and pour your chopped chocolate in, as well as any alcoholic ingredients. Wait just a few seconds for the heat to penetrate the chocolate, then stir to combine. Cool your ganache in the fridge until it is stiff enough to roll into balls, which you can do by hand or with a round teaspoon. Roll it in cocoa powder, cinnamon chopped nuts, coconut flakes, hot cocoa mix, espresso powder, powdered sugar, spices, and any combination of these. Be sure to taste frequently as you go along.
The best tasting fresh ganaches were red wine, honey, whiskey, and cream cheese. The half-butter-half cream mix was the best for richness and ease of rolling. After being left out overnight, most of the ganaches were still stable, but after three nights most of the emulsions had separated out and left the truffles with a chunky texture. Honestly it didn’t taste that bad, but we were going for a ganache that stayed smooth. At three and five days, the only smooth ganaches were made with 100% butter, mostly butter, and evaporated milk. After seven days, only the full butter and evaporated milk truffles had maintained their texture. Unfortunately, the pure butter truffle tasted kind of like, well, eating pure butter. And the evaporated milk truffles had a distinct canned-milk taste. Perhaps the next round of experiments can incorporate some flavorants (honey, whiskey, vanilla) into the butter and evaporated milk mixtures.
The notable recipes:
For the all-butter recipe, use equal parts butter and chocolate.
For the mostly-butter recipe, use 13 oz butter, and add two tbsp cream.
All of the following were made as variations of the half butter/half cream base: 3.5 oz cream, 3.5 oz butter, and 10 oz chocolate. (3.5 oz is just under a half-cup, if you don’t have a scale handy)
For evaporated milk recipe, replace cream with evaporated milk.
For cream cheese recipe, replace cream with cream cheese, but also add two tbsp of cream.
For whiskey recipe, add two tbsp whiskey, or you can use any other alcohol here (vanilla, brandy, Grand Marnier, Kaluah, etc.)
For honey recipe, add two tbsp honey.
For wine recipe, replace half of the cream with red wine, but add the red wine when you add the chocolate.