Truffles are one of my all-time favorite sweets to eat. As far as truffle making? Eh… not so much. Granted, they’re beautiful and quite simple (albeit time consuming) to make once you get in a good groove for dipping them in the chocolate. But they are always time consuming, so keep that in mind whenever you’re going to try a truffle recipe. They, like most fudge recipes, are not designed to be made when you’re in a hurry.
My methods and tips below for truffle making have served me quite well, but are certainly not the only options out there. If you try these things and still have a hard time, there’s always google for some other ideas that for whatever reason might just work out better for you.
- For truffles with a super soft dough, always refrigerate or freeze the truffle dough until it’s firm enough to shape properly. If it’s too soft when you form the truffle, even if you form it into a ball it will end up flattening on the bottom (even if you refrigerate/freeze the truffle dough balls before dipping them). Tying into this, you want to get the truffle dough balls as round as possible to end up with the end result looking nice and round as well.
- Once you form all the truffle dough balls, it’s best to stick them in the freezer or refrigerator on a parchment-lined baking sheet and grab a few at a time when you’re dipping (freezer vs refrigerator depends on the dough and how much it firms up in the refrigerator. If it doesn’t firm enough in there, stick them in the freezer). Dough will soften very quickly after being taken out, so you only want a few at a time to avoid added difficulty when trying to dip them (the softer they are, the easier it is for them to fall off your toothpick down into the chocolate, and then you have to start over. This is quite frustrating, as I’ve learned through my own experiences).
- When heating your chocolate for dipping, always heat it with some vegetable shortening (such as Crisco). For milk & dark chocolate, use 1 Tbsp. shortening per 1 cup of chocolate chips. For white chocolate, use 2 Tbsp. of shortening per 1 cup of chocolate chips. Using the shortening will make the chocolate a bit thinner and therefore not so heavy when you dip the truffle. The less weight you have hanging off the toothpick, the better chance you have of the truffle not falling off before you’re ready. Also, this gives the chocolate coating a nice smooth & shiny appearance.
- When melting the chocolate/vegetable shortening combo for dipping, use a double boiler to avoid scorching the chocolate, especially with white chocolate which is extremely temperamental. Once melted, if you have a tall, narrow mug (or a similarly shaped container) to put the chocolate in for dipping, I find this works best. I have always put it into a tall mug that’s nice and deep for me to dip the truffles in and then I am able to stick the mug in for a short spurt in the microwave when it needs to be re-heated a bit (after dipping 15 or so truffles, the chocolate will have cooled a bit and firmed up a bit, so you may need to reheat it once or twice during your truffle dipping process).
- For dipping, my method is to stick a toothpick ~halfway into a truffle, dip the truffle, then twirl it around as the excess chocolate drips down off the bottom, using the side of the mug to wipe some off the bottom (but not so much that the dough is showing on the bottom. Then, I use another toothpick as a kind of tool to hold the truffle down while I pull out the other toothpick by twirling around gently and pulling up out of the truffle. There are a couple of things to note here about using the toothpick method. 1) Every truffle ends up with a hole in the top (or, sometimes more like a crater). This is ok, though, just dip another clean toothpick into the chocolate to get a glob on there, then use the toothpick as a kind of paintbrush to fill in the hole with the chocolate coating so it blends with the rest of the chocolate on the top nicely (it’s important to use a clean toothpick for this so you don’t get any truffle dough in your dipping chocolate). The key is to then throw on some kind of crushed up nut/cookie, sprinkles or do a colored chocolate drizzle on top to cover up that spot (which also gives the truffle a nice decorative flair). 2) You have to be ok with using a whole lot of toothpicks (at 99 cents for a box of about a bajillion, I don’t mind. I use fresh toothpicks for each truffle and accumulate a little “toothpick graveyard” off to the side of my work area to throw out when I’m done).
It’s hard to explain in words how to dip the truffles, but hopefully that helped give you some kind of starting point. There are other methods you could try rather than the toothpick method, like using a fork or spoon, but I have never found that to be anything other than a disaster, especially with soft truffle dough. There are probably other methods out there too, though, and ultimately you’ll find a method that works. It may take 5 or 10 truffles for a specific recipe before you really get in the groove and get the hang of it, but it’s ok, those can be the ones you keep to eat. 😉
- For truffles like my Raspberry Oreo truffles, where there is something soft in the center, dipping can be even more challenging since there isn’t something solid to stick the toothpick in. When I make those kinds of truffles, I tend to stick the toothpick in the top but a bit off center, where the firmer truffle dough is.
- It’s important to stick the truffles in the refrigerator before too long after they have been dipped. Depending on what is in the truffle, if they are left out too long, the truffle center will start to push its way out, which can either cause it to ooze out of the top or even crack the sides of the chocolate coating. Once you start dipping them, it’s easy to get into a groove and not realize how much time has gone by, so I tend to use small baking sheets lined with parchment paper/wax paper for setting the dipped truffles on. This way, the time it takes to fill one up is less, and the baking sheets go into the refrigerator in time.
I hope these tips will help you out when you’re braving the ever-so-tedious and frustrating task of truffle-making. The end results always feel worth the effort, as truffles are one of the best looking sweets for gift-giving, and no matter how simple the inside truffle dough is, people always feel indulged when eating them.