Why I Love This Recipe
I stumbled across a recipe in Bon Appetit several years back, clipped it, stuck it in a pile, and promptly forgot about it. It got shuffled to the top of a "recipes to try" stack a couple Christmases ago, and IMMEDIATELY earned a place in my go-to repertoire. These things are just straight up fan-friggin’-tastic. They really are like a gingerbread cookie in chocolate bon-bon form. Christmas in a ball. Don’t bother with that final dusting of cocoa powder for this one. Let’s not fancy these up at all.
Ingredients You'll Need
• ¾ cup (6 oz) whipping cream
• 10 whole allspice
• 10 whole cloves
• 1 tbsp mild-flavored (light) molasses
• 1 ½ tsp grated peeled fresh ginger
• ½ tsp ground cinnamon
• Pinch of salt
• 7 oz PLUS 12 oz bittersweet (NOT unsweetened) or semi-sweet chocolate, chopped
• 7 oz high-quality white chocolate (such as Lindt or Perugina), chopped
• ½ cup chopped crystallized ginger PLUS additional for garnish
1. Put the cream, molasses, spices and salt in a heavy medium saucepan and bring them just to a boil over medium heat; remove from the heat, cover and let it steep for one hour.
2. Mix the 7 oz bittersweet chocolate and the 7 oz white chocolate in large metal bowl set over saucepan of simmering water (but not touching the boiling water – you can use a standard double-boiler instead, if you have it); stir until the chocolate is melted, lightened in color and smooth. Remove the bowl to the countertop. Strain the cream mixture through a fine-mesh sieve (or several layers of cheesecloth) into the chocolate; stir to blend. Stir in ½-cup of chopped crystallized ginger. Pour the ganache into a flat-bottomed cake pan, to create an even layer. Cover with plastic wrap and chill the ganache until firm, at least 3 hours.
3. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Using a 1-inch melon baller (or a small disher or just use a couple of teaspoons), scoop the filling and roll it quickly between your palms to form balls. Place them on parchment and get them back in the fridge to chill, at least 2 hours.
4. Line another sheet with parchment. Place the remaining 12 oz of bittersweet chocolate in a medium metal bowl set over a saucepan of simmering water; stir until the chocolate is melted and smooth. Remove the bowl to the countertop (sound familiar?). Cool the chocolate until an instant-read thermometer inserted registers 115°F. Quickly submerge a truffle into chocolate, then lift it out and tap it against the side of the bowl so excess coating drips off (a fork works best for this). Use a knife to slide the truffle off fork and onto the prepared baking sheet. Repeat with remaining truffles. If you like (and really, why wouldn’t you?), press a little piece of the reserved chopped candied ginger onto the top of the truffles – it gives it a nice, finished “bon bon” look. Chill until them again until they’re set. These can be made one week ahead; just keep them covered and chilled until ready to serve.
As I’ve said before, your basic truffle is just a firmed up basic ganache, and that’s nothing more than equal parts cream and chocolate (BY WEIGHT), melted together, allowed to firm, and then rolled into balls. And yes, generally speaking, I’d say just go ahead and bring the cream to almost a boil, then pour over the finely chopped chocolate. The residual heat would be enough to melt the chocolate. But this two-step process does give you a little more control, and honestly, I’m not sure that the molasses or the white chocolate would play nice if you tried it the traditional way.
Speaking of white chocolate… if you are not a fan (as so many people are not), don’t rule this recipe out. I was hesitant as well. But the white chocolate plays well with others here. For starters, you’ve got some pretty heavy warm spices here, with the molasses and the allspice and ginger. You need something a little lighter to offset. Especially when it comes to the bittersweet chocolate – if your bittersweet chocolate is good quality (and if it’s not, we need to have a talk), then it could very well overwhelm all of the spice. The white chocolate makes the dark chocolate and the spices play nice.
And, if you really like white chocolate, here’s an idea: after you’ve dipped the truffles in dark chocolate and chilled, line another baking sheet with parchment. Place another 12 oz of white chocolate in another medium metal bowl set over a saucepan of simmering water; stir until it’s melted and smooth. Remove the bowl to the counter and cool until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the chocolate registers 100°F (yep, go for a slightly lower temperature for the white chocolate). Hold a truffle between your thumb and index finger; dip it halfway into the white chocolate. Place it onto the prepared sheet. Repeat with the remaining truffles. Chill until firm, about 30 minutes.
With all the chocolate work happening here, unless you’re tempering your chocolate, the final product will have a tendency to get those fat “blooms” (the little white splotches on the surface of chocolate that means some of the fat has precipitated out), and it may melt a little at room temperature. I don’t temper my chocolate, because… well, I’m not that good of a chef. Just keep these in the fridge until ready to serve. Although, really, I’ve left them at room temperature for a while and they’ve been perfectly fine.
The cream mixture here comes out very thick. Either be careful to just scald the cream, not boil it, or add more to thin. As it is here, the resulting chilled ganache is very dense and difficult to scoop.