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Chocolate whiskey truffles

chocolate whiskey truffles (Photos by Wendy Maeda/Globe Staff, food styling by Sheryl Julian and Sally Pasley Vargas)
February 9, 2011

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Makes 45 to 50

Unlike more expected flavors such as raspberry or Grand Marnier, whiskey gives truffles a certain intrigue. The recipe looks long but is not hard to execute. Make the chocolate filling and shape it into balls, coat them in melted chocolate (this is messy), then roll them in cocoa. You can skip the melted chocolate and just roll in cocoa, but it gives the candy a pleasing crunch.

20 ounces bittersweet chocolate (60 to 70 percent cocoa), divided into a 12-ounce portion and an 8-ounce portion, finely chopped

2/3 cup heavy cream

1/4 cup ( 1/2 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature

3 tablespoons whiskey

About 1 cup Dutch-process unsweetened cocoa powder

1 to 2 teaspoons canola oil

1. Have on hand a saucepan filled with 2 inches of boiling water. You will also need a melon baller or mini ice cream scoop. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. You will need another rimmed baking sheet; leave it unlined.

2. Place 12 ounces of chocolate in a heatproof bowl.

3. In a small saucepan over medium heat, bring the cream to a simmer. Pour the cream over the chocolate and stir with a rubber spatula until smooth. If bits of chocolate remain, place the bowl over hot, not boiling, water and stir for 30 seconds. Remove the bowl and stir gently off the heat.

4. Add the butter a little at a time; stir until smooth. Add the whiskey, 1 tablespoon at a time, stirring after each addition.

5. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 hour, stirring from time to time, until the mixture is firm but not hard.

6. Dip a melon baller or a small ice cream scoop in a mug of very hot water. Scoop the chocolate into scant 1-inch balls. Set them on the unlined baking sheet. Use the tips of your fingers to shape the mounds into balls, but not perfect rounds. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.

7. Set the oven at 200 degrees or the lowest setting. Place a heatproof dinner plate in the oven to warm. With a fine-meshed strainer, sift a thin layer of cocoa powder over the parchment-lined sheet. Add more cocoa to the strainer; set it next to the baking sheet.

8. In a heatproof bowl set over a saucepan of hot, not boiling, water, set the remaining 8 ounces of chocolate. Let it melt. Stir in 1 to 2 teaspoons vegetable oil to thin the chocolate slightly.

9. Spread a shallow pool of chocolate (about 1/4 cup) on the warm plate. Place 5 truffles on top. With your fingers stretched out, use a circular motion to roll all the truffles at once in the chocolate (keep your other hand clean). Carefully place each truffle on the cocoa tray and sift more cocoa on top. Repeat with all the balls. If the chocolate on the plate starts to harden, use your clean hand to return the plate to the oven for about 30 seconds.

10. Shake the tray of truffles back and forth to completely coat them, sifting more cocoa on top, if necessary. Set aside for 20 minutes. (Sift and reuse leftover cocoa powder. Pour leftover chocolate onto a piece of waxed paper, let it harden, and use it in baking.)

11. Store the truffles in an airtight tin at a cool room temperature for up to 10 days.

Sally Pasley Vargas