The fall holidays are fantastic ones: Halloween is all about costumes and candy and Thanksgiving is all about food. Here is how to make one of our favorite fall treats: pumpkin spice truffles. (Yum.)
To get the note-perfect flavor of traditional American pumpkin pie, we use the spice ratio from the old-standard can of Libby’s pumpkin (here is the recipe from under the label). Bittersweet chocolate has a stronger flavor than that of pumpkin, so we actually use twice the spice of a pie for a small batch (well, small for us batch) of truffles. The amazing thing is that these pumpkin-free wonders taste uncannily like pumpkin pie. Not that anyone will have trouble distinguishing your truffles and a pie, but you just might get asked, “Are these actually made with pumpkin?”
One of the reasons that this works is mouthfeel. Pumpkin pie has a texture that is relatively unique amongst common American foods: a silky smooth, sweet dessert nuanced with papery grains of spice. By adding the same spice mixture to a silky chocolate truffle base, we create a second food matching that esthetic– and the illusion can be startling.
Like other covered truffle recipes, there are two steps: making the filling (ganache) and the coating it.
- 8 oz. bittersweet chocolate
- 3/4 cup heavy whipping cream*
- 1 tablespoon whisky or cognac
- 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
Put hot tap water (not so hot you can’t hold your hand in it) in the bottom of a double boiler and mix the chocolate and cream in the top. Stir gently with a wooden spoon, every once in a while, until the mixture is melted and smooth. You will need to replace your water regularly to keep it at the right temperature. (Do not put it on a burner. If it gets too hot, the chocolate and cream mixture will “break” and you will end up with flecks of butter in your truffles.) When the chocolate and cream are mixed, stir in the spices and booze. Pour into a nonreactive bowl and chill overnight or at least until mixture is solidified.
[*Experts may want to use a little more cream. You will end up with a center that is softer, but more challenging to work with.]
When your ganache has solidified, melt additional– and unadulterated– bittersweet chocolate for the coating. Use the same low-temperature double-boiler procedure for the melt. Overheating in this case will break the temper of the chocolate and ruin the glossy finish. (Retempering is possible, but a hassle.)
While the chocolate is melting, scoop the ganache into balls. Roll between your palms if necessary to get a rounder shape. Store the rolled balls in the fridge or freezer until the coating chocolate has melted fully.
Once the coating chocolate is melted nicely, dip the rolled balls into it, one at a time. Scoop them out on a fork– or a more specialized dipping tool if you have it– and gently shake excess off to leave a thin coating. Set down on a non-stick surface such as parchment paper or a plastic storage container.
After coating hardens, optionally decorate with orange couverture or icing, like our Jack-o-lantern shown up top, or serve plain, like so.
There are a few more tips on truffles in our discussion of the spiral dipping tool. It certainly helps to start with good chocolate. Ghirardelli 60% chips are widely available and a remarkably good bargain in the larger bags.
One word of caution: truffle making may diminish your desire to eat chocolate (licking all those irresistible spoons can lead to chocolate saturation). However, this flavor is one that even the veteran truffle makers want to eat. Enjoy!