A box of Parisian chocolates would be a welcome holiday gift, but something handmade is even more special.
I stopped at Jean-Charles Rochoux the other day, one of my favorite Paris chocolatiers, to see what kind of goodies he was featuring for the season. I knew he would have lots of fanciful molded chocolates—there were indeed Père Noëls of all sizes—and I figured there would be marrons glacés (candied chestnuts) as well. In addition to the individually wrapped chestnuts on display, Rochoux had used them to make one of his special Saturday-only bars, two rows of nuts under a silky chocolate blanket. Having just made a batch of crème de marrons, I got this idea.
Truffles are among the simplest chocolate confections to make. The base is ganache—an emulsion of chocolate and cream—and the flavorings are limited only by your imagination. The trickiest step is coating the truffles in tempered chocolate. You can skip this step and just toss the ganache centers in cocoa, but they will be quite soft and fragile. The rum is also optional, but it definitely brings out the chestnut flavor and adds a grown-up touch.
Chestnut Rum Truffles
Yields 3–4 dozen.
8 ounces (225 g) bittersweet chocolate, the best you can buy
1 cup (240 ml) heavy cream or crème fraîche
1 cup (300 g) crème de marrons (chestnut conserve), purchased or homemade
1–2 tablespoons dark rum
additional chocolate for tempering (optional)
1. Chop the chocolate finely and place in a heatproof bowl. Heat the cream in a small saucepan until it is just about to boil. Pour the hot cream over the chocolate and let it stand for about a minute, then whisk gently until the mixture is smooth. Stir in the crème de marrons and rum. Cover the bowl and refrigerate until the base is firm. (For rapid chilling, pour the base into a shallow dish.)
2. To form the truffles, I like to use a melon baller, but a small spoon or even your hands will do. Drag the melon baller across the ganache as though scooping ice cream, then gently roll the scoop in your palms to make it more or less round. It’s OK if it isn’t perfect—truffles usually aren’t.
3. Put the formed truffles in the fridge to firm up before finishing them; or for easy handling, freeze them. To finish, you can either simply dust them with cocoa powder or dip them in tempered chocolate first. (Find tempering instructions here.) Store the finished truffles in the refrigerator.