Chocolate Caramel Truffles with Fleur De Sel Recipe (Truffles: Round 2)

Shhh...they're cooling.

After posting some photos last week, a few friends half-jokingly suggested I should send them a batch. And I would have. Except that I didn’t make enough of those hefty ancho chile truffles to send out. Thus, I was inspired to create a second batch.  Not of the same – of course (my brain must have new new new when it comes to current baking projects despite my desire to knit a third pair of the same airy gloves) – so I thought about what was delicious…and chocolate caramel chocolates with sea salt came to mind immediately.  Even as a “non chocolate” fan, I can appreciate these.

So, I went to work finding a recipe. Originally, I was going to use Godiva’s recipe for chocolate truffles with caramel centers, except that I was sending some of these to people who had teeth issues and that seemed like cruel torture. Instead, I opted for Bon Appetit‘s recipe then turned to Ghiradelli to assist me with the tempering. Which is really quite something as I can’t stand the way their chocolates taste.

My attempt was not without a mini-disaster. I destroyed my first batch of caramel by letting the cream – or, as I discovered part of the way through, half-and-half – curdle. That flop led me to this helpful video from Fine Cooking. It illustrates the different caramel stages and what you do and don’t want to do. Like, not curdle your dairy. It also outlines the different stages of caramel from light caramel to dark amber so you know what you should be looking for and how to test for it. I recommend watching it before attempting this recipe.

And without further ado…

Chocolate Caramel Truffles with Fleur de Sel

Total Time: 12 hours

Active Time: 1 hour

Makes approx. 35-40 truffles

Ingredients:

– 8 ounces semi-sweet chocolate, finely chopped (I use Callebaut)

– 12 more ounces of the same quality semi sweet chocolate, divided (see below)

– 1/3 cup sugar

– 2/3 cup half-and-half (oops)

– 2 tablespoons water

– 1/4 teaspoon Artisan Salt Fleur de sel (you can use regular ol’ sea salt but make sure it’s the very coarse grain as you don’t want it to get lost in the chocolate).

Other:

– 3/4-1 cup cocoa powder (for dusting)

– Fleur de Sel (for sprinkling on top)

– two saucepans

– metal mixing bowl

– fork

– spoon

– mixing spoon

– digital thermometer

– flexible spatula (or, my fave, a spoonula)

– baking sheet

– wax paper

The Steps (“There are always steps!” – Matt)

Step 1: Figure out a way to chop your block o chocolate into finely chopped bits. The ones I tend to buy are about 2 inches thick and while to date, I’ve only used a great chef’s knife and a cutting board but I’m always fearing the knife will slip and I’ll have to call 911.

Friends of mine have suggested various solutions: put it in a freezer bag and whack it with a hammer, use an ice pick, put a clean screwdriver on the chocolate and hit that with a hammer, or use a mezzaluna knife. Once it’s in small enough pieces, you could use a food processor to render it into smaller bits but I prefer to stick with a knife so I have to wash less later.

Step 2: Once the chocolate is chopped into relatively even hunks, put it into a metal mixing bowl that is large enough for the base to sit on the top of small saucepan without it touching the bottom. Pour about one inch of water in a small saucepan, place it on the stove, and put the mixing bowl with the chocolate on top of it. You are, essentially, creating a double broiler. Don’t turn on the heat yet.

Voila...a double broiler!

Step 3: In another saucepan, put in the sugar and water and use a spoon to swirl them together until mixed. Place this on the stove. Pour the cream into a new bowl and set it nearby the stove so it’s within arm’s reach when you need it.

Step 4: Let’s fire up these burners. Turn the one under the chocolate up to medium high or high (it’s the steam that melts the chocolate). Turn the one under the caramel mixture to medium. Keep an eye on but don’t touch the caramel one as you do the next step. Really, no touchy!

Step 5: As soon as you turn on the heat under the chocolate, start stirring the chocolate with your spatula. Continue to do this until it is fully melted. Do not ignore it unless you want gloppy chocolate (um, gross). Once it’s fully melted, remove it from the heat. If you want to be precise, supposedly the chocolate shouldn’t get over 115. I just keep it on until it’s melted.

Step 6: By now, your caramel should be close to where you need it. You’re looking for it to be a dark amber color. The way you can test this – without stirring – is by taking some out carefully with a metal spoon and dropping it onto a metal plate. Caramel is hot and sticky and you really don’t want to get it on yourself, so be careful. You also don’t want to stir the caramel, so be careful of that too. As soon as it’s the right color, take it off the heat. You can wait just a few moments but get a mixing spoon ready and and drop in the cream. STIR NOW. Stir until it is well-mixed and smooth. If there are curdles, I don’t yet have a solution for you other than starting over.

Step 7: Pour the caramel mixture into the warm, melted chocolate. Stir in the Fleur de Sel. Take a piece of plastic wrap and cover the chocolate with it, pressing it onto the surface of the chocolate. Put it in the fridge for 3 hours. Go do something else.

AND WE’RE BACK!

Dusty and delicious.

Step 8: Put the cocoa powder in a small bowl. Get out a baking sheet and line it with wax paper. Take the chocolate out of the fridge. Using a spoon, melon baller, or small ice cream scoop, create small (approx 3/4″) balls out of the chocolate. Roll each of these in your hands until they’re nice and round and then roll them in the cocoa dust. Place them on the wax paper. Pop these back in the fridge for 8 hours or overnight.

TIME LAPSE…

Step 9: It’s time to temper the chocolate so your truffles have a pretty sheen. Using the remaining 12 ounces of chocolate, divide it into 4 even sections. Take one of these sections (3 ounces) and set it aside. Finely chop all of the chocolate.

Step 10: Melt the 9 ounces of chocolate like you did before, but try to let it go no higher than 115 (once again, I didn’t really worry about this). More importantly, let it cool until it is between 90 and 100 degrees. Now mix in the 3 ounces of chocolate you’d reserved. Stir until fully melted. If after a few minutes it doesn’t look like it’s going to melt any further and you still have chunks, put it back on the heat. BRIEFLY. Now set the bowl on a heatproof surface where you can work next to it.

Ploink!

Step 11: Take the chocolate balls out of the fridge and drop them – I dropped four at a time – into the warm chocolate. (You can do this one at a time, but I was worried the chocolate would cool before I was able to get these puppies coated.) Retrieve each one at a time as such: slide a fork under the truffle and pick it up carefully. Slide it against the edge of the bowl. Bang the fork a few times on the edge of the bowl.

Wham, bam, thank you truffles.

Step 12: Carefully put the truffle on the wax paper, using your fingers if absolutely necessary. Sprinkle a little Fleur de Sel on top.

Sitting pretty.

You can chill the truffles in a box or tupperware to keep, but allow them to come to room temperature before serving.

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