Vanilla Bean Truffles

Chocolate truffles were named for their fungi look-a-like, the truffle. At $2,700 per pound, their chocolate counterparts aren’t quite that costly, but they add up quickly — many cost as much as $3 apiece. After you take the time to make them yourself, you’ll understand why.

Active Time: 1 hour
Yield: 20 truffles
Prep: Make the ganache the night before, as it must cool overnight in the refrigerator.
Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.

Grab These:
2 baking sheets
Parchment paper
Candy thermometer
Offset spatula
Latex gloves, for dipping
1-inch ice cream scoop with a
spring release

Shelf Life and Storage Instructions:
Store in a cool, dry place at room temperature for 3 to 4 days or in the refrigerator for 7 days.

Breaking it down:
Don’t overmix the ganache, or it will break and will not be smooth and creamy.

Because you’re coating the chocolate-dipped truffles with cocoa powder, you don’t have to go through the tempering process, but you should still melt the chocolate gradually so it remains as close to 98 degrees Fahrenheit as possible. If the chocolate is too hot, it will be too thin and won’t form a thick enough layer on the truffles. If it’s too cold, it will be too thick and hard to work with.

Ingredients Quantity:
For Ganache:
Vanilla bean 1/2
Bittersweet chocolate (64 percent) 3 ounces
Milk chocolate (38 percent) 3 ounces
Heavy whipping cream 1/2 cup
Light Karo syrup 1 tablespoon plus 1 1/2 teaspoons
Unsalted butter, room temperature 1 tablespoon
For Coating:
Chocolate (I like 64 percent), melted 1 pound
Cocoa powder 1 cup

1. Using a paring knife, extract the seeds from the vanilla bean by splitting the seed pod in half; then, rake the back side of the knife down the inside of the pod to scrape out the seeds.

2. In a mixing bowl, melt the dark and milk chocolate for the ganache halfway by heating it in the microwave for about 2 minutes at 50 percent power. By halfway, I mean that half of the chocolate should be melted, and the other half will still be solid. I like using chocolate pistoles, or coins, but you can also just chop solid chocolate into small pieces before melting it. You may also use the double boiler method if you prefer.

3. In a saucepan, combine the cream, vanilla bean seeds, and corn syrup, and bring the mixture to a boil. Remove the mixture from the heat.

4. Pour the hot cream mixture over the partially melted chocolate. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and set aside for 5 minutes.

5. Using a rubber spatula, stir the cream–chocolate mixture in concentric circles, starting in the center of the bowl, only widening your stirring circle when the small area you are working through is thoroughly incorporated (it will look shiny and smooth). Always stir in the same direction to avoid ìbreaking the ganache. Continue until the mixture is combined, creating a ganache.

6. Once the mixture cools to 100.4 degrees F, mix in the room-temperature butter, stirring until thoroughly mixed.

7. Cool the mixture in the refrigerator overnight.

8. After the ganache has thoroughly cooled, use a 1-inch ice cream scoop (one with a spring release) to scoop out the ganache. After you create each scoop, roll it into a perfect ball in the palm of your hand. Place each ball at least 1 inch apart on one of your lined baking sheets.

9. Chop the coating chocolate into small chunks. Gradually warm the chocolate in the microwave at 50 percent power until it is about 60 percent melted (about 2 minutes). Stir the chocolate until the pieces have melted. The chocolate is ready when it has reached 86-90 degrees F.

10. Pour the cocoa powder into a small bowl.

11. Set up your ganache ball tray on your left, the bowl of melted chocolate and the bowl containing the cocoa powder in the center, and the other baking sheet lined with parchment paper on your right.

12. Using your left hand, drop each ganache ball first into the bowl of melted chocolate. Then, shake off excess chocolate and drop into the bowl of cocoa powder. Use your clean right hand to cover the truffle with cocoa powder and place on a parchment-lined baking sheet. (Ideally, two people would do this, one person coating in chocolate, and the next person rolling in cocoa powder and placing the truffles on the sheet tray)

13. Repeat with each ganache ball, transferring the truffles onto the prepared baking sheet.

14. Before serving the truffles, allow them to gradually warm to room temperature (should take about 30 minutes). Ideally, truffles should be stored in a room that is approximately 65∞F, but you can also store them at room temperature for 3 to 4 days or in the refrigerator for 1 week.

Sarah Levy

About Sarah Levy Imberman

Sarah Levy delighted millions as the owner and proprietor of Sarah's Pastries & Candies, one of Chicago's most popular confectionaries since its opening in 2004. A graduate of Northwestern University and the French Pastry School, Ms. Levy is the author of Sweetness: Delicious Baked Treats for Every Occasion and the winner of the Food Network Challenge. She’s been featured in USA TodayBetter Homes and Gardens and the Chicago Tribune, among many others. Ms. Levy's now doing business as S. Levy Foods, and is a leader in the airport food concession business.