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Dark Chocolate Truffles (with flavor variations)

Makes about 36 candies

If you like chocolate, you really should try making truffles. This recipe is so easy and absolutely delicious, better than most store-bought candies. See the notes below for options, including the type of chocolate used and other flavors that can be added.

Ingredients

Using a serrated knife, finely chop the chocolates and place in a medium bowl. Meanwhile, heat the cream just to the boiling point. Add it to the chocolate and let set for one minute. Whisk the mixture until all of the chocolate is melted and well incorporated into the cream. (If, for some reason, the cream was not hot enough to completely melt the chocolate, which has happened to me, set the bowl over a pan of simmering water, being careful that the water does not touch the bottom of the bowl, and whisk again until melted. Remove the bowl from the pan and continue.) Stir in the vanilla and optional liqueur. Cover the top with plastic wrap and refrigerate until the mixture is solid enough to form into balls, but not too hard, about one or two hours.

Meanwhile, place the cocoa, confectioners' sugar and/or nuts on separate plates. Using a teaspoon or melon baller, whichever seems easiest for you, scoop the chocolate mixture in about 1-1/2 teaspoon amounts. Place it in your hands and quickly shape into a ball. The shape does not need to be perfect. Chocolate truffles were designed to resemble the truffles that grow in the ground, which are never perfectly round.) Roll in the cocoa, sugar or nuts until lightly covered. Place in a container in one layer. If desired, use paper candy or mini-muffin cups for each truffle. Store, covered, in the refrigerator until use. I prefer to let them come to room temperature for about 20 minutes before serving. Leftovers will keep, refrigerated, for up to a week.

Notes and Variations: First, let us talk about the chocolate. I love it very dark and not too sweet. Therefore, I might even use up to 4 ounces unsweetened chocolate and reduce the bittersweet to 8 ounces. You can use any combination of chocolate you prefer, including milk, semisweet or bittersweet, as long as it equals 12 ounces. As for the liqueur, it is not required. These are so good without it. However, if you want something really special, the liqueur adds a lot of flavor. I prefer a coffee-flavored liqueur, such as Kahlua, but almost any liqueur would be good. For just a hint of flavor, use one tablespoon. For a more intense flavor, use two. Another option is to add the same amount of brewed coffee. Make these truffles into any shape or size desired. I just would not make them too large. My favorite coatings are the cocoa and nuts, but the confectioners' sugar is pretty and adds more sweetness for those who like it that way. Have fun and enjoy!