The Dan Weiss Inaugural Truffle
Invented in honor of Dan Weiss’s inauguration as President of Lafayette College, October 14, 2005
by Nina Gilbert, Director of Choral Activities
A marbled truffle of milk chocolate and peppermint white chocolate, dipped in premium bittersweet/semisweet chocolate and dusted with pulverized Swiss Miss milk chocolate powder (to echo the milk chocolate), inspired by consultation with Pres. Dan Weiss, who likes milk chocolate and peppermint. Photo below/right shows a truffle cut in half.
While this is a multi-day process, it doesn’t actually take much time on each day. But you do need to start dissolving the mints three days before you want your truffles. (Not too many days ahead, though, or the cream will start to congeal.)
This recipe is still being fine-tuned, so the ingredients are still flexible. I started with the White or Milk Chocolate Truffles recipe from Alice Medrich, Bittersweet (New York: Artisan, 2003), p. 158-9. I tested several brands of chocolate. The brand recommendations below make a difference, as does the organic cream.
Do not be intimidated by the length of the recipe! The steps are mostly easy and forgiving. Just don’t try to think about all of them at once. The critical step—that is, the one where you could ruin everything—is crumbing and blending the chocolate (under “start the ganaches,” below).
- Equipment beyond basic stove/microwave/saucepans:
- Two small cookie sheets with raised edges, or shallow baking pans
- Saran-type wrap
- Baking parchment
- Blender or food processor
- Small glass jar, to dissolve mint candy in cream in refrigerator
- Miniature ice cream scoop (optional if you’re really coordinated)
- Dipping fork (also optional if you’re really coordinated)
- Ingredients for about 80 truffles, depending on their size:
- 12 ounces milk chocolate (I recommend Lindt), chopped or broken into small chunks
- 12 ounces white chocolate (I recommend Ghirardelli for this recipe, but any real white chocolate with real cocoa butter and vanilla, not vanillin, is fine), chopped or broken into small chunks
- 1 cup organic heavy/whipping cream, divided
- about 12 Starlight mints (red-striped peppermint)
- about 1/4 teaspoon peppermint oil (if you’re in Easton, you can get this at Gail’s Cake and Candy Supply, 1150 Northampton St.)
- about 20 ounces premium semisweet chocolate, for dipping (Scharffen Berger is distinctly superior for this, as it is top quality and its fruity taste goes with the milk and mint chocolates; available at Wegman’s supermarkets or Chocosphere)
- about 20 ounces premium bittersweet chocolate (combining brands is fine), to melt and mix with the semisweet for dipping
- about a cup of Swiss Miss Milk Chocolate Flavor Hot Cocoa Mix, pulverized in a good blender until powdery, for dusting and sprinkling (more is better; I didn’t measure this!)
- Three or four days before: start the mint cream.
- Chop or crush the Starlight mints and put them in a glass container with 1/2 cup of the cream. (Glass because it’s non-porous, and you can see whether the mints are dissolving. Cover could be plastic wrap.) It’s fun to crush them by hitting them with a hammer before unwrapping them. If you don’t chop or crush them, they won’t dissolve enough.
- Cover and refrigerate. If you think of it, you can stir this mixture occasionally and push the mint bits around.
- Two days before: start the ganaches (chocolate and cream emulsion).
- Line the cookie sheets with Saran-type wrap, leaving enough hanging over the sides to cover the pan later.
- Process the milk chocolate in a blender or food processor until it becomes coarse crumbs. I find I have to stop my blender and dislodge compacted chocolate from the bottom.
- Bring the remaining 1/2 cup of cream to a boil in a small saucepan.
- While the blender is running pour the boiling cream through the feed tube. Within about 30 seconds, the chocolate should be smoothly melted.
- Pour and scrape the milk-chocolate-cream mixture into one of the Saran-lined cookie sheets. Leave to cool at room temperature without stirring or agitating for several hours.
- Once you have the milk chocolate ganache cooling, do a similar process for the mint white chocolate:
- First, wash the milk chocolate out of the blender with hot water and detergent, so that you don’t have milk chocolate contaminating the mint-white.
- Just as you did with the milk chocolate, process the white chocolate in a blender or food processor until it becomes coarse crumbs.
- Measure half a cup of cream from the mint mixture into a small saucepan, and bring it to a boil. If there are a few soft bits of mint in the cream, that’s all right, but no hard-edged chunks.
- Again with the blender running, pour the boiling mint cream through the feed tube and process until melted smooth.
- Add about 1/4 teaspoon peppermint oil and process for a few more seconds. Taste—does it need more mint? On the one hand, you want strong enough mint to hold its own against other chocolates; on the other hand, you don’t want a medicinal truffle.
- Pour and scrape the mint white chocolate mixture (which should be pink from the mints) onto the other Saran-lined cookie sheet and leave to cool undisturbed and unstirred at room temperature.
- After several hours, when the ganaches are cool, fold the plastic wrap over them and allow to continue to set at least 8-10 hours at room temperature.
- One day before: scoop the truffle centers.
- First, stack the ganaches. That is, unwrap them and cut each in half (vertically, the easy way) and stack the halves so you have four layers alternating brown-pink-brown-pink (I found this easiest with brown on the bottom). This is easy: you unfold the plastic wrap and then use the plastic wrap under each layer to lift it and flip it onto the stack. You can piece things together as necessary. When you have the four layers, press firmly on them with your knuckles through some plastic wrap so that the layers stick together.
- Now use the miniature ice cream scoop to make little irregular balls of the mixture, 3/4 to 1 inch in diameter. Each ball should have irregular layers of pink and chocolate. If the scooping doesn’t quite work, you can also pick off bits of one color or the other from the stack and press them into the ball.
- Collect the balls of ganache on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper (a pan that you’ve just freed from ganache is fine). They can be crowded, but they shouldn’t touch each other.
- Let stand at room temperature at least two or three hours, until their surface is slightly crusty, not sticky.
- Freeze the truffle centers on the parchment-lined cookie sheet. The idea is, they’re too soft to dip at room temperature, so you freeze them, and eventually you have room-temperature soft-centered truffles with solid semi-sweet shells.
- Three to thirty+ hours before: dip the truffles.
- Chop a combination of Scharffen Berger semisweet and any good bittersweet chocolate(s) and put it into a microwaveable pottery bowl. (Other materials are acceptable, but I found a shallow pottery bowl most effective.) If you bowl isn’t large enough, you can start with part of the chocolate and add more as you use up the first batch. It’s all right if the proportions of chocolates change as you go, as long as there’s enough Scharffen Berger semisweet to dominate the mix.
- Melt the chocolate gently: my technique was to microwave it for a minute, stir it, and then microwave for decreasing increments until it was about 2/3 melted, then remove from the microwave and stir till completely melted.
- Sprinkle some of the pulverized Swiss Miss powder on yet another parchment-lined cookie sheet (doesn’t have to be a cookie sheet; any portable flat surface is fine; soon you’re going to put this in the freezer).
- Take one tray of frozen centers out of the freezer. Assemble the following within reach: tray of frozen truffle centers, bowl of melted chocolate, parchment-lined tray with pulverized Swiss Miss powder sprinkled on it, and container with remaining pulverized Swiss Miss powder.
- Using your fingers, pick up a frozen center and drop it into the melted chocolate. Using a dipping fork, roll it around, lift it out of the chocolate, shake slightly, and place gently on the powdery parchment. Using your fingers, take a very tiny pinch from the container of Swiss Miss powder and sprinkle it over the top of the freshly dipped truffle. You want very little of this powder; otherwise it will seem as if salty grit has overwhelmed your truffle.
- Repeat for all the centers. Again, it’s fine to crowd them on the tray, as long as they don’t touch each other. If the chocolate in the bowl begins to get thick, soften it in the microwave for a few seconds. And if you seem to be running out of dipping chocolate, chop more, stir it into the melted chocolate, and microwave for several seconds.
- Allow to dry and set at room temperature for a few hours.
- Done! Serve at room temperature. Theoretically these can be stored in the refrigerator up to a month or frozen up to three months. Allow to come to room temperature for serving (though they’re fun cold too). Storage note: I refrigerated one for a week and it lost a lot of flavor and texture. I think we have a freezer experiment in progress.
NOTE: You can add an extra teaspoon or two to each half cup of cream for softer centers to the truffles.
HOW WE DESIGNED THE TRUFFLE: We started with plain milk chocolate with crushed peppermints. That didn’t work: the mints felt like sand. Then we tried larger pieces of mint, and the surprise of rock-like bits in a truffle wasn’t right (though some tasters liked it); also it seemed to evoke Christmas and candy canes. I didn’t want to hide the mint in the chocolate—it was important to see something distinct that carried the mint flavor. We tried dissolving whole or chopped Starlight mints in cream and using that to make a white chocolate component. The flavor wasn’t strong enough; heat destroys mint. But I liked the effect of seeing pink white chocolate. Peppermint oil reinforced the flavor. The last step (added after October 14) was to pulverize the Swiss Miss. I want a cocoa/dust consistency, but I want milk chocolate powder. We also tried crushed bits of mint as a topping, but they got both sticky and sandy-textured.
METAPHORS: You can glean all sorts of symbolism from this recipe. We haven’t known Pres. Weiss long enough to know if the truffle captures his personality beyond his taste in milk chocolate and peppermint. But the truffles teach us that:
- Once you put the right ingredients together in the right way, some things need time to set and develop naturally.
- One person’s “subtle difference” is another’s “essential defining characteristic.”
- The visible ingredient is not necessarily the one responsible for the flavor.
- The whole is more tasty than the sum of the parts, but it takes care and wisdom to choose the right parts and put them together with the right amount of heat and pressure (low and firm respectively).
- Some things that look complicated are actually simple, if you have the imagination to discover them.
- An indiscreetly thick shell of really good semisweet chocolate can unify an inconsistent, amateur mess into something of astonishing high quality. The outer coating has more than a superficial effect.
- When you think you’ve answered a question, you should think of more questions to ask.
- Humor is good, especially where you might not expect it.
- ...more to come!
TRUFFLE RHETORIC : William G. Bowen spoke at the Inauguration and said, “I remember well the admonition of one of my most learned professors in graduate school, who warned against turning out narrowly-gauged academic progeny who were ‘trufflehounds’—finely trained for a single small purpose and not much good for any other.”
DEBUT: The Dan Weiss Inaugural Truffle made its debut at my presentation on “Chocolate Across the Curriculum”:
Nina Gilbert’s home page recipes ice cream flavors Lafayette College Choirs e-mail
Posted October 16, 2005
Updated November 1, 2005
Truffle photos on this page are from my own batch of this recipe. I’m not claiming copyright, but I’d love to know if you use the photos or recipe!