Chocolate Truffles & Truffle-Sea Salt Caramels

Christmas Candy 2

Well, it’s December 23.  Can you believe it?!  I feel like I just finished off the last of the Thanksgiving leftovers, and we’re already 2 days out from Christmas.  This year has absolutely flown by.  Not only is 2013 nearly over, but next Wednesday will mark the halfway point in my pregnancy.  Yikes!  When did that happen?  We could not be more thankful and excited for what 2014 has to offer us,  but until that comes, we still have one (big) holiday to get through.

Every year for the past several years, I have made some kind of candy or cookie at Christmas time.  Eggnog macarons, candy cane meringues, rum balls.  And for the past 2 years, truffles and caramels have taken center stage.

These are the best gifts to give to people this time of year.  I have a huge extended family, and making treats has always been the best way to make sure everyone gets some holiday love this time of year.  Truffles are fantastic; so, so easy to make, and so easily customizable to whatever flavors you want.  I did one basic truffle recipe with two different toppings: pistachios and cocoa powder.  Truffles dipped in cocoa powder are my personal favorite; so rich and decadent, that I have a habit of eating about 12 before even realizing I’ve consumed that much chocolate.  Whoops.  😉

Christmas Candy 1

These caramels are a take off of the Truffled Truffles I did on here awhile back.  Rich, super buttery caramels with that little truffle oil finish, and the bite of the sea salt … these are the best caramels ever.  The main trick that I’ve finally picked up on with caramels is to never stir the sugar; only swirl the pan.  Stirring the sugar can create crystallization, which makes for gritty caramels, very unappealing.  These little babies are smooth as can be, and melt in your mouth immediately.  Before I got everything cut and wrapped, Shawn was surreptitiously taking slices of it off of the brick, he loves these caramels so much.  Ahh, the rush of Christmas sugar.

I love Christmas.  We will be eating fondue and crab Christmas Eve with my family, followed by a Christmas morning of stockings, gifts and a delicious brunch.  This year is particularly poignant, as it is the last year for Shawn and me as a family of two.  This time next year, we will have a little 6-7 month old, and will get to start all of our own traditions to carry on throughout the years.  I can’t wait to see what the coming years have to bring us.

And to you, my lovely readers, I wish all who celebrate a very merry Christmas!  THG

Chocolate Truffles
Yields 50
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  1. 24 oz. bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped and divided
  2. 5 Tbsp. unsalted butter
  3. 1 cup heavy cream
  4. 1 1/2 Tbsp. light corn syrup
  5. 3 Tbsp. good brandy
  6. 2 Tbsp. coffee liqueur
  7. 1/2 cup dark cocoa powder
  8. 1 cup green pistachios, finely chopped
  1. In a glass bowl set over a pot of simmering water, melt together 16 oz. bittersweet chocolate and unsalted butter. Stir until just smooth and set aside.
  2. Heat heavy cream and corn syrup over medium heat until bubbles just begin to form along the sides of the pan. Quickly pour over melted chocolate and stir a few times to incorporate. Let sit for 2-3 minutes and stir until mixture is smooth. Add brandy and coffee liqueur and stir to incorporate. Pour into glass baking dish and refrigerate 1 hour to set.
  3. Using a melonballer, scoop chocolate mixture and roll into 1 inch spheres. Place on a parchment sheet and refrigerate another 1 hour.
  4. Melt remaining 8 oz. bittersweet chocolate in a glass bowl over simmering water until smooth. Allow chocolate to cool to about 92-93F. Using two regular teaspoons, roll truffles in melted chocolate until fully covered. Tap on the edge of bowl to release any extra chocolate from around truffle. For cocoa powder truffles: add chocolate dipped truffle to bowl of cocoa powder and gently roll to coat. Tap to release excess powder and set on parchment paper lined baking sheet to set. For pistachio truffles: place chocolate dipped truffles on parchment paper lined baking sheet and quickly sprinkle with chopped pistachios.
  5. Let truffles set with chocolate at room temperature for another 1 hour. Store in an airtight container at room temperature.
The Humble Gourmet
Truffle-Sea Salt Caramels
Yields 40
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  1. 3 cups white sugar
  2. 1/3 cup light corn syrup
  3. 1/2 cup water
  4. 3 tsp. truffle oil, divided
  5. 1 1/2 cup heavy cream
  6. 1/2 cup unsalted butter, cubed
  7. 2 tsp. pink sea salt, plus more for sprinkling
  8. 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  1. Line a 13x9 inch glass baking dish with parchment paper. Lightly brush the parchment paper with vegetable oil and set aside.
  2. In a large saucepan, heat sugar, corn syrup, water and 1 tsp. truffle oil over medium-high heat. Do not stir the sugar mixture; just swirl as necessary. Allow sugar to bubble and darken in color to a deep golden brown (keep a close eye to make sure sugar doesn't burn.)
  3. While the sugar is caramelizing, bring heavy cream, butter, remaining 2 tsp. truffle oil and sea salt to a boil. Set aside.
  4. Once the sugar mixture has reached a deep golden brown, remove from heat and quickly whisk in heavy cream mixture. Be careful; it will quickly bubble up! Once heavy cream mixture is incorporated, whisk in vanilla and return to medium heat. Heat caramel to firm ball stage, about 250F. Immediately remove from heat and carefully pour into prepared pan. Refrigerate until caramel has set, about 2-3 hours.
  5. Cut up several 3x3 inch squares of either parchment paper or wax paper. Lightly brush vegetable oil on a cutting board and large knife. Remove caramel from the pan and parchment paper and place on cutting board. Sprinkle generously with pink sea salt. Cut into 1 inch wide strips, and then into 1x1 inch pieces. Wrap in parchment paper or wax paper and set aside. Continue to brush knife with vegetable oil as needed. Refrigerate wrapped caramels until ready to serve.
The Humble Gourmet

Truffled Truffles

Truffled Truffles

I have an insane sweet tooth.

Really.  I challenge any one of you to a sweet-tooth-off.  It is sickening the amount of sugar I can consume in one sitting.  I can have frozen yogurt, ice cream, candy, cake, cookies anytime, anywhere.  I sometimes have to deliberately decide to NOT eat sugar.  It’s a disease.

Truffled Truffle Ingredients

These babies are an indulgence.  A sweet, salty, rich indulgence.  An absolute must for anyone with a sweet tooth.  An absolute must for anyone, period.

Truffled Truffles

Okay, so they’re not technically truffles.  They’re caramels.  But “truffled truffles” sounds so much cuter than “truffled caramels”, don’t you agree?

Truffled Truffle Ingredients

Truffled Truffles

Quick sidenote: Shawn took the photo on the right.  I love how they look suspended in air.

Chocolate-covered salted caramels.  Sounds fairly basic; delicious, but basic.  The thing that heightens these particular treats is the addition of truffle salt and truffle oil.

The salt is just a sea salt with small pieces of shaved truffle added in.  Very, very flavorful.  Truffles have such a unique flavor; earthy, rich, sweet, salty.  They taste like everything all at once.  I received a jar of truffle salt and a can of truffle oil in the stocking this year at Christmas.  I’ve used them fairly sparingly; neither of them ingredients I can afford to regularly stock in the house (this is the Humble Gourmet, remember?).  But, I decided to be bold.  Daring.  Frivolous.  I added the salt and oil to my caramel with wild abandon.  Totally worth it.

Truffle and sweet go incredibly well together.  It’s just so complex a taste.  You get that great, sea salt hitting you right as you bite in, the rich bitterness of the chocolate, the creamy, sweet vanilla flavor, and then, at the very end, that savory, subtle taste of the truffle. 

Truffled Truffles

These are definitely one of the most decadent, luxurious desserts I’ve ever made.  The caramel is so smooth and creamy, with a thin layer of dark chocolate, and that truffle.  The truffle is totally what elevates these little confections from sweet little candy to rich indulgent dessert.

I must make these again.  And again.  And again. 

Drat.  There goes my modest truffle budget for the year.  THG

Truffled Truffles

Truffled Truffles (Chocolate-Covered Truffle Caramels)

1 1/2 cups sugar

1/3 cup water

1/4 cup light corn syrup

1 cup heavy cream

1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, cubed

1 tsp. truffle salt, plus more for topping

1/4 tsp. truffle oil

1 1/2 tsp. vanilla

1 lb. semi-sweet or bittersweet chocolate chips

To begin, line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.  Spray or brush the parchment with vegetable oil.  Set aside.

In a heavy-bottomed saucepan, heat the sugar, water and corn syrup over medium high heat.  Bring to a boil.  Continue to let boil, undisturbed, until the sugar melts and caramelizes to a light, golden amber color.

While sugar is caramelizing, combine cream, butter, salt and truffle oil in a small saucepan over medium low heat.  Allow butter to melt and cream to simmer.  Do not boil.

When sugar has caramelized, remove from heat.  Working quickly, whisk the cream mixture into the sugar mixture; be careful, it will bubble up quite a bit.  Add in vanilla and whisk to combine.  Set over medium low heat and continue to cook until a candy thermometer reaches 250ºF.  Remove from heat and carefully pour onto parchment paper lined baking sheet into a thin layer.  Refrigerate until set, about 2-4 hours.

In a microwave-safe bowl, add chocolate chips and nuke for one minute.  Remove and stir well.  Continue to microwave in 30 second intervals, stirring well in between, until chocolate is completely melted and smooth.

Remove caramel from refrigerator.  Cut into thin strips.  Roll each strip into a ball, about 3/4” in diameter.  Add caramel ball to chocolate to coat completely.  Remove with a slotted spoon, being sure to drain off excess chocolate, and place on a fresh parchment paper lined baking sheet.  Sprinkle with a small pinch of truffle salt.  When done, refrigerate again until chocolate is set, about 1 hour.  Serve chilled.

Makes approximately 30 “truffles”