OK. Next time I say I want to make bread pudding, taken from some random Web site I’ve never heard of before, just so I can use up my loaf of bread that hardened two days after I bought it?
If you do, I might be able to write a better post than this one, in which I will just tell you that, Yes, I did in fact spend a disproportionate amount of time tonight caramelizing sugar and softening bread cubes to layer with a creamy custard in a tube pan that would then, tragically, leak all over and around the oven liner, meaning not only that the bread pudding was a disaster but so was the kitchen and myself.
And, Yes, also, after I did all this, I would still head up to my computer, flicking on its glowing screen and gentle humming sound, just because, even at almost 11 PM, I’d know I’d planned to sit down and write something interesting about the dark chocolate truffles I made for Carrie’s and Alicia’s birthday presents, and, by gosh, that stupid bread pudding wasn’t going to stop me.
Tell me you’ve had nights like this?
I really should be sleeping right now, and heaven knows I’ll regret my stubbornness in the morning, but, I figure, maybe you’re up, too? Just today alone, I heard more than one person tell me how frustrating life’s been and how they feel a little lost, confused, unsure of the future. I’ve never been very good at giving advice in situations like those, mostly because everything I could tell them I should be telling myself (and also because, in these cases, the people were talented, funny and good-hearted ones, and if either is reading: When I don’t seem worried about your future, it’s not because I don’t care but because I know you and have all the confidence in the world in you).
Anyway, I’m better with food.
So to make up for every bad day, every bad recipe, every agonizing hour spent washing dishes for meals you didn’t want to eat, I offer this: homemade chocolate truffles. These desserts are wonderfully decadent, everything a truffle should be. They are easy enough to do with children and impressive enough to give to adults.
The moment you bite into the rich, milky darkness of the base, with its flecks of hardened chocolate and dense, creamy texture, things will be looking better, I swear. You can roll them in anything you’d like—I chose alternating dusts of cocoa, bright chopped pistachios or bits of thin almonds—but you might like a blend of cinnamon and sugar or something else.
As gifts, I lined them in mini paper cups, set in ordered rows inside white paper boxes, wrapped with brown ribbon, and I brought them to dinner Monday night, to give as birthday gifts on a night when I tried sushi for the first time, with three people I work with and enjoy.
Dark Chocolate Truffles
Loosely adapted from Allchocolate.com
I read so many truffle recipes before adapting/creating this one, which has the same basic ingredients as the original but a totally different set of instructions that are easier and faster (if I do say so).
I’d recommend setting separate sets of spoons by each plate of topping–that way you won’t be mixing anything if you switch around. Oh, and don’t skip the latex gloves—they make the process a snap to get through and to clean up afterward.
12 ounces semisweet chocolate chips
1 cup heavy cream
pinch of salt
1 ½ teaspoons pure vanilla extract
Sifted cocoa powder
Shelled and chopped pistachios
Shelled and chopped almonds
Place chocolate chips in medium-sized bowl and set aside.
Combine heavy cream and pinch of salt in saucepan and heat over medium-low heat until nearly simmering; add vanilla. Pour hot liquid over chocolate chips and stir mixture until totally smooth. Refrigerate, tightly covered, for about three hours or until firm.
After the mixture has chilled, remove from refrigerator and create plates of chosen toppings. Wearing latex gloves and using two spoons, scoop out rounded sections of the chocolate into palms and form into balls. Use spoons to roll each ball in the topping of your choice and place on a separate plate or in a container. Makes around three dozen truffles.
Chill until firm, about 1 hour. Do ahead: Can be made 1 week ahead. Store in airtight container and keep chilled. Let stand at room temperature 1 hour before serving.