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Quality chocolate is key to making successful truffles.Arx0nt/iStockPhoto / Getty Images

Homemade truffles are superior to many you buy in the store. A few delectable mouthfuls make the perfect end to a meal, and they are excellent as a take-home treat for your guests or a gift for friends over the holiday season.

The secret is the quality of chocolate. Buy the best you can afford, at least 64-per-cent to 70-per-cent cocoa for dark, and 40-per-cent to 45-per-cent for milk. I don’t like white chocolate, so I never use it; if you do, buy a good quality bar, preferably European.

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I like Cacao Barry, Valrhona and the slightly less expensive but still excellent, Callebaut. Buy chocolate in block form or callets (small round discs). Do not use inexpensive packaged chips, as they have a hardening agent in them that prevents the truffles from forming properly. If you don’t use callets, chop the chocolate finely. This is easily done if you shave it off the block with a serrated knife.

Finely chop 8 oz dark chocolate. Place in a heatproof bowl. In a heavy pot on medium heat, combine ½ cup whipping cream and 2 tbsp unsalted butter. Stir mixture together until cream comes to a good simmer. Remove from heat, let sit for a minute then pour over the chocolate and let sit again for a minute. Stir together until smooth. This is called ganache. (If your truffle mixture is too hot, it will split and become grainy. You can save it by whisking in 2 or 3 tbsp of hot milk, which will bring it back together.) Refrigerate for a couple of hours until the mixture can easily be handled. Scoop the mixture with a tablespoon, or larger if you want to make big truffles, and roll into balls. Roll in cocoa powder. I usually dust my hands with cocoa before dipping to keep everything uniform. Place on a parchment-lined baking sheet and refrigerate for two more hours. Truffles will keep, refrigerated, for a month in an airtight container.

To change the flavour of your truffles:

  • Add 2 tbsp finely chopped candied ginger into the ganache mixture.
  • Instead of rolling truffles in cocoa, use toasted nuts (the saltiness provides a good contrast to the richness), toasted coconut, or dip them in melted chocolate.
  • Omit whipping cream and add ½ cup thick yogurt. It has a firmer texture, is less rich and cuts the fat.
  • Add 3 tbsp liqueur (any flavour) into chocolate mixture while still warm for decadent, boozy truffles.

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