The thing about working with chocolate is that it is quite a forgiving medium and you get to be quite innovative when it comes to flavors while still adhering to classic techniques and forms.
One particular chocolate treat that lends itself well to experimentation is ganache, the cream-based paste that serves numerous purposes from fondue to cake frosting to truffles.
The ganache I used at a workshop I handled earlier today was mixed with light cream as opposed to the usual all-purpose or double cream. As part of the experiment, I used less cream and more chocolate; I also added a bit of creme de praline (a lighter version of gianduia [Nutella]) to add body to the mixture. A splash of semi-sweet Prosecco (Italian sparkling wine) rounded out the flavor by adding a tingly, effervescent tartness that worked well with the richness of the chocolate.
Used for truffles, this bittersweet paste was deliciously unctuous, even a bit chewy, and the taste was given a smoky oomph after these were rolled in cocoa powder.
I gave the resulting truffles the name Tartufi Nero di Bacchanti – the Bacchantes’ (those wine-bibbing devotees of the Roman god of wine and the vine) dark truffles – because of their decadent taste and texture as well as the addition of the wine.
Tartufi Nero di Bacchanti
- 300 grams / around 10.58 ounces dark chocolate, broken
- 100 grams / around 3.53 ounces milk chocolate with praline paste/filling (or use 75 grams milk chocolate + 2 tablespoons Nutella), broken
- 150 mL / approximately 2/3 cup light cream or full-cream milk
- 2 tablespoons Prosecco or any other semi-sweet sparkling white wine
- cocoa powder for rolling
Put all of the ingredients in a medium-sized and heavy-bottomed saucepan (enamel works best, by the way) and set over medium heat. Cook whilst stirring till the chocolate has all melted, about 20 – 25 minutes. (Keep stirring; otherwise the chocolate may get scorched.)
Allow to cool for about ten minutes. Transfer to a clean, covered container and freeze overnight. To make truffles, roll heaping teaspoons of the ganache in cocoa powder.
Makes approximately 80 small truffles.
Incidentally… You can also use the ganache for fondue; just serve immediately with a plate of dippers (cut fruit, cubed cake, cookies, etc.). If you want to use it as a cake frosting, allow to cool completely but don’t freeze; spread evenly over your cooled cake. (This makes enough to frost two 8-inch layer cakes, and then some.)