Easy, Inspired Truffles

Truffles
For easy truffles, this recipe skips the dipping (which makes a hard chocolate outside) and simply rolls the truffle center, or ganache, in a coating, like cocoa powder. It’s less mess, less work, and you don’t have to worry about tempering (which makes the hard outside attractively shiny).

A classic truffle ganache is bittersweet or semisweet chocolate flavored with cognac. But you can vary the type of chocolate, the flavoring, and even the coating, to create infinite possibilities. There are a few variations, plus ideas for other flavorings and coatings, at the end of the recipe. (For more about truffles, see this post.)

Makes about 24 truffles

8 ounces good-quality bittersweet or semisweet chocolate or 12 ounces milk chocolate, chopped
3/4 cup heavy whipping cream
2 tablespoons cognac or liqueur or 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder or other coating

Place the chocolate and cream in a medium metal bowl. Set the bowl over a saucepan of barely simmering water and stir occasionally until the chocolate is melted and the mixture is smooth. Remove from heat and stir in the cognac or vanilla.

Pour the mixture into an 8-by-8-inch baking pan and freeze for about 30 minutes, until the ganache is the consistency of fudge. Use an ice cream scoop, melon baller, or small spoon to form the ganache into rough, tablespoon-sized rounds. Place the rounds on a baking sheet lined with parchment or wax paper and refreeze for about 15 minutes. Remove from the freezer and, working quickly, form each round into a 1-inch ball.

Either sift the cocoa over the truffles, turning them for even dusting, or roll the truffles in a dish of the cocoa. Store the finished truffles covered in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks. Ideally, bring to room temperature before serving.

Variations
For Raspberry Truffles: Use Framboise or other raspberry liqueur in place of the cognac. Use pink sparkling sugar in place of the cocoa powder

For Lavender Truffles: In a small saucepan over medium-high heat, combine 2 tablespoons chopped lavender and 3/4 cup heavy whipping cream and heat to barely simmering. Remove from the heat and set aside for 5 to 10 minutes before straining through a fine-mesh strainer. Use in place of the cream.

For the Café Latte Truffles: Use Kahlua or other coffee liqueur in place of the cognac. Use powdered milk mixed with a little cinnamon in place of the cocoa powder.

Ideas for ganache flavorings
Cognac, Grand Marnier, Framboise, Frangelico, Kahlua, or other liqueurs
Citrus zest
Fruit jam
Peanut butter
Chopped dried fruits
Chopped, toasted nuts
Spices (cinnamon, ginger, etc.)
Extracts (vanilla, almond, rum, etc.)

Ideas for truffle coatings
Cocoa powder
Colored or powdered sugar
Jimmies or sprinkles
Instant espresso powder
Spices (cinnamon, ginger, etc.)
Cocoa nibs
Chopped, toasted nuts
Coconut
Crushed cookies or Rice Krispies