Adventures in Truffle Making: A Retrospective

I posted this back when my blog was a wee youngster. December of 2007, to be exact. Since that time, I’ve made many, many, many, many rounds of truffles and have the process down to a science. These truffles are now award-winning (true story, they won “best tasting” dessert at our department Christmas party last year). But back then, I was quite the novice. For those of you that have already read this post…all three of you…I’ve added this stellar intro and the recipe to the end to keep it all fresh and interesting and whatnot.  Enjoy!

Rather than the normal Christmas post, I thought I’d regale you all with tales of my Christmas goodie making…

All my best recipes come from my Mother and Grandmother. It’s a well-known fact and running joke that Mom is the Substitution Queen when it comes to meal making. No tomato sauce? Eh, just substitute tomato paste…etc, etc. I’ve often told friends that my mom makes great meals, but they just always taste different than the time she made it before. I suppose it was a way to keep us on our toes (and her out of the grocery store).

With this in mind, I called my Mom up before the “baked goods” season commenced. I called her to email me some vital recipes. “Do you want the truffle recipe, too?” she asked. “Lindsay made them for her office and now they think she is a gourmet cook.” Hey, if my sister could do it, bring on the puffy white hat and glitzy title!

True to her word, I received all the recipes in my inbox a few days later. I was pleased to find that the truffle recipe required no baking, only three ingredients and (apparently) lasting fame with whomever came in contact with them. I should have known at this point that the whole scenario was too good to be true. BUT, determined to maximize my afternoon, I stopped by the grocery store after church to pick up all of the ingredients.

With Oreos, cream cheese and Baker’s semi-sweet chocolate in tow, I checked out confident that my standing in the cooking world was about to be raised in a massive way.

Ready to tackle anything (or so I thought), I crushed the Oreos into oblivion. Mixing them with the cream cheese went well and I proceeded to make them into little balls, humming Christmas carols all the while.

Now, this is where our story takes a drastic turn. After chilling the little guys for the allotted time, I pulled them out to complete the next step. “Cover them with semi-sweet chocolate”. Sounds easy enough, right? Wrong.

Round 1:
Naively optimistic, I grabbed the first truffle-in-the-making and gamely microwaved my first square of chocolate. I grabbed two forks, ready to wedge the little guy in between and give him a good dunking in the chocolate-y goodness. Turns out one square was not enough in the bottom of the bowl for my pre-conceived dunking.

Round 2:
Undaunted, I plopped it into the bowl, but the thing obstinately refused my every attempt to roll it. I tried with the fork, I tried with a spoon, and I tried with my finger (clean, of course).

It was at this point in the process that I realized I was in over my head. Donning the Christmas apron hopeful for a little holiday magic, I resolutely finished the first truffle as well as I could and dropped it on the cookie sheet. Chocolate pooled everywhere underneath, unfortunately distant from the actual truffle it was supposed to cover.

Round 3:
I decided to give myself a little mental pep talk. “Okay, Amy, you are a problem solver! You do tougher things like this every day. Do NOT let chocolate get the best of you. You are BETTER than this.” My little mantra seemed to encourage me and after surveying the situation, I decided to try to get a bigger pool of chocolate for the baptism of all my truffle guys.

Yanking out another bigger bowl and running cold water over the fingers that (unfortunately) grabbed the small bowl with the original melted chocolate a wee bit too soon, I managed to unwrap another Baker’s chocolate square and get it into the microwave for it’s meltdown. (ha!)

At the end of this round, I had two squares melted and was about to transfer the second liquidated square into the bigger bowl with the first when my pot holders failed me. The small bowl slipped out of my grasp and into (you guessed it!) the bigger bowl. Aw, sheesh! Can’t a girl get a break?? Shaking my head in disgust, I rescued my small bowl, salvaging as much chocolate as possible and tried pouring the chocolate over a few of the truffles. Turns out, the chocolate was too thick, globbing on top but not really with the coverage I was looking for.

Round 4:
In a fit of panic, I decided to try something outside the box. Something that only McGuiver would have thought of were he in my position. I pulled a sandwich-sized Ziploc bag out of a drawer, spooned a few doses of chocolate and plopped the truffle in. Just like Shake ‘n Bake, right? Um, not so much. The truffle taunted me in side his plastic prison and refused to move one iota of an inch.

Round 5:
With rows and rows of truffles ahead of me and no end or feasible plan in sight, I somehow managed to use a spatula (Pampered Chef to the rescue!) my finger and a few spoons to finish the job.

With the last truffle fully-if somewhat unevenly- coated in chocolate, I wiped my forehead with the back of my hand and leaned against the counter to survey the damage. Chocolate was now spread into every possible crevice on the microwave, stove, counter, floor, and sink. I looked down and realized that I had seen better days and bent down to wipe a sizable glob of chocolate off of my ankle with my chocolate blackened tea towel.

Thankful that my roommate was out for the afternoon, I went about cleaning up the remnants of my truffle making adventure. I think I’m done with truffles for a while…

p.s. Every time I tell this story, there are a thousand other options that people think up. Hey, people? You weren’t there. The truffles were not attacking YOU. I’m just thinking that had you been in my shoes, you would have been chocolate covered and defeated as well.

p.p.s. I am now at home in West Virginia where my Mother has a whole BAG of truffles evenly covered with chocolate and even better tasting than mine. How do you like THAT?

And now the recipe you’ve all been waiting for, with my tips and tricks for a successful truffle-making endeavor.

Ingredients

1 block (8 oz) of cream cheese

Can be reduced fat. I haven’t noted that it makes a difference in taste.

1 bag of Oreos

This is where the variation comes in. For regular chocolate truffles, use regular Oreos (reduced fat is also fine here…doesn’t affect taste). For my “Christmas” truffles, I use mint Oreos. You could even use peanut butter Oreos, or whatever floats your boat.

About 2 boxes of Baker’s semi-sweet cooking chocolate.

You probably won’t use all of the second box, but better to have more chocolate than less! Trust me.

Instructions

1. Set out your cream cheese to soften to room temperature.

2. Pull out two cookie sheets and line with parchment paper or tin foil. This makes for easy clean up and easy removal of the finished truffles.

3. Using a food processor, blender, or plastic Ziploc bag and a heavy object like a rolling pin, crush a full bag of Oreos into oblivion. Ideally, you want the finished product to look a lot like coffee grounds.

4. In a bowl, mix the crushed Oreos with the block of cream cheese. By the time you’re done, you shouldn’t see any white from the cream cheese or the Oreo filling.

5. With your hands, roll the mixture into little round spheres about 1.5″ in diameter, or you can make ’em whatever size you want. Place them on your covered cookie sheets. You’ll notice that they can get a little mushy as the warmth of your hand interacts with the cream cheese. Hence the next step…

6. Refrigerate (or freeze if you’re in a hurry) all your wee uncovered truffles until the become solid and cold to the touch. This will allow you to roll them in chocolate without melting them.

7. If you have a double boiler pan (a sauce pan that you boil water in and another sauce pan fits on top so that the stuff you’re warming isn’t on the direct heat of the burner), thank your lucky stars and pull it out. If you don’t, I’d recommend creating your own make-shift double boiler. If you have another sauce pan, or a glass or metal mixing bowl that fits inside one of your sauce pans, that’ll do. I would NOT recommend plastic anything, of course. Melt the chocolate in the top of your double boiler pan. (If you’re one of these devil-may-care types that want to skip the double boiler, go right ahead. I’m just trying to save you some time and frustration :)). If you’re planning to make these on a regular basis, like I was, it’s worth investing in one of these. I got mine from Bed, Bath & Beyond for $19.99, but Amazon and other stores have a “universal” double boiler inserts that could go with one of your existing pans. 

8. I’ve found that the easiest way to cover the truffles is with the use of a spatula. You know, the kind that looks like a huge spoon, but it’s a spatula? That way, you can roll the truffle all around in the chocolate, scoop it up on a surface that has chocolate on it (the spatula), and drop it on your cookie sheet with relative ease. Plus, you can scrape all the chocolate together in the pan and use all of it up when it gets low.

9. Once you have the covered truffles done, refrigerate to set them.

You’re done! Now you just have to do the clean-up. Good luck with that.

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