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Apricot Porcini Truffles
Makes about 45 truffles

I can’t say the porcini flavor is very distinctive in these truffles, but they are utterly delicious and totally easy to make, though they do take time. And of course, you can forfeit the porcini powder altogether and roll the truffles in either natural unsweetened cocoa or Dutch processed. I really don’t think it matters. What’s the difference between natural cocoa and Dutch process cocoa? They are both unsweetened, but Dutch process means the cocoa has been alkalized - made less acidic. The flavor is mellower, and supposedly it affects leavening positively in baked foods. But the test kitchen at Cooks Illustrated (my favorite nerdy food mag) has found both work in baking, although their tasters preferred the Dutch.

I roll my truffles rather small, the size of gumballs, but you can roll them as large as you like. They just become more difficult to cover smoothly with chocolate the larger they are. Regarding the chocolate, sometimes I buy blocks when I am at a baking supply store, but often I use chips. Look for a high quality chocolate, like Ghirardelli or Valrhona.

1/2 cup orange juice
Heaping 1/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup butter
1 1/2 tablespoons light corn syrup
10 ounces bittersweet chocolate (for interior), cut into small bits or shaves
2 tablespoons Cointreau or other orange liquor
1/4 cup porcini powder (see my post Porcini Salt and Porcini Butter from December for details) or unsweetened cocoa, cut into small bits or shaved
20 ounces bittersweet chocolate for shell

In a small heavy bottomed pot add the apricots, orange juice, and sugar. Bring to a boil over a medium heat and cook until the sugar dissolves and then the liquid is absorbed by the fruit, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat.

In a medium sized heavy bottomed pot add the cream. Cut the butter in small bits into the pot. Add the corn syrup and heat over a medium lot heat until the butter melts and the cream starts to boil. Remove from heat.

Add the chocolate and the Cointreau to the cream mixture. Stir to combine, and then add the apricot mixture. Pour the mixture into two 9-inch cake pans and freeze for a few hours.

Have ready a cookie tray lined with wax or parchment paper. Remove the chocolate from the fridge. Use one pan at a time, leaving the other in the freezer while you work on the first. The chocolate should be very hard. I use a melon baller to scoop out portions of the chocolate mixture, but you can use a spoon, or cut out pieces with a knife. Roll the truffles between your palms to make a ball. This is a messy business. I have to wash my hands frequently. Be sure to dry them as rolling with wet palms makes the mess worse. The balls won’t be perfectly round. That’s life.

Continue for the second tray.

Place the balls on the cookie tray and refrigerate for a couple of hours.

Pour the porcini or cocoa powder on a flat plate. Remove the chocolate balls and roll them in the powder. Return to the fridge.

Have ready a new cookie tray lined with wax or parchment paper. Heat the remaining 20 ounces of chocolate in a double boiler (I actually prefer a steel bowl over a pot of boiling water because when it comes time to roll the truffles in the chocolate it’s easier if the bottom of the bowl is round). When the chocolate is melted, dip the balls in the chocolate and place on the cookie tray.

Dipping the balls in chocolate is not as easy as it sounds. I’ve used chopsticks, tongs, two tined forks, but at the end of the day, the what works for me is a butter knife or other flat utensil for rolling the truffle in the chocolate, and a fork for lifting it out. The main trick is to have enough chocolate. Trying to cover a truffle with scant chocolate resources is a drag, like trying to stay warm under a blanket that is too small for your bed.

Once the shells are hard you can pack the truffles in candy boxes. They need to stay in the fridge; although you can travel with them without melting—just don’t leave them in the back seat of your car in the sun. They hold in the fridge for a good two weeks.