Try as I might to act as though I am immune to the aggressively cloying nature of February 14, I actually kind of dig Valentine’s Day. Maybe it’s because my particular brand of anxiety is soothed by a brightly coloured and visually uniform supermarket display, but it’s probably thanks to my love of chocolate.
Originally, I had planned to write a guide to tempering chocolate by way of immersion circulator, but that’s been covered pretty extensively, and I didn’t have anything new or interesting to say on the topic. I did, however, have things to say about truffles.
Truffles have never been hard to make. In, fact they’re as easy to make as it is easy to screw up tempered chocolate. But made the traditional way, they are a little messy.
Melting chocolate in heavy cream, transferring the mixture to another container to chill, then scooping and rolling it into little balls will inevitably result in chocolate being smeared all over my counters, stove and (somewhat inexplicably) my cat. I may be messy, but I live for drama, not actual, physical messes I have to clean up.
Sous vide-ing truffles keeps everything neatly in a bag while you melt, mix and pipe. There are no pots, pans or stirring implements to clean, only a freezer bag and baking paper to throw away. The only mess comes from the rolling and cocoa powder, but that is handled by a simple hand washing, and maybe a plate rinse.
And as with any other sous vide project, precise temperature control means there’s never any danger of burning your chocolate or scorching your dairy.
Sous vide truffles are an easy, low-stress treat to make for your Valentine, your children (if you have some of those) or yourself. To make about 10 of them, you will need:
- 115g of high-quality dark chocolate (at least 60 per cent)
- 1/4 cup thickened cream
- 1 big pinch of salt
- 1/2 cup of cocoa powder of dusting
Set the temperature of your sous vide bath to 46C. Roughly chop the chocolate into uniform chunks, then chuck it in a bag with the cream and salt. Place the bag in the heated water for 10-15 minutes, agitating every five minutes or so, until the chocolate is fully melted and you have a completely homogeneous mixture.
Drop your circulator down to 27C, adding ice until the water reaches that temperature. Let the bag hang out for 10 minutes, agitating halfway through, then remove it from the bath, agitate one more time, and push the chocolate to the bottom by running a flat-edged implement down the outside of the bag, so it looks like this:
If the chocolate feels firm enough to pipe, go ahead and snip off a corner and pipe it out into 2.5cm mounds on baking paper (or a silicone baking mat). If it’s still a little liquidy, pop it in the fridge for five minutes before piping.
If the truffles look a little less than optimum, shape-wise, do not fret, for they have not reached their final form. Let them firm up, then gently roll them into balls using your hands. Roll them around in cocoa powder, transfer them to a (pretty) sealable container, and give them to your beloved.
Alternatively, enjoy them as the dessert course of your indulgent single-person meal. These truffles will keep at room temperature for a couple of weeks, or in the fridge for a few months, but there’s no way they won’t be consumed by then.