DIY sweet treats
Many brides these days are choosing to put their personal stamp on the big event by handcrafting special wedding details, and those involving food are particularly appreciated by wedding-goers. Dinah Corley’s new book, Gourmet Gifts to Make Yourself and Wrap with Style (The Harvard Common Press, 2011), offers myriad presents designed to please the palate. You’ll find great ideas for favors and welcome bags; some are seasonal and others will work year-round. The book, illustrated by Oak Bluffs photographer Alison Shaw, includes recipes and instructions for creative wrapping. These truffles can be made ahead of time, and instructions for creative packaging are below.
Four-plus pounds of truffles
Chocolate is temperamental. To ensure success, never let so much as a drop of water come in contact with the chocolate, and use the best-quality chocolate you can find. If you are inexperienced with chocolate, divide the recipe in half and make two batches; smaller amounts are easier to work with. Truffles freeze well for longer-term storage before coatings are added, and after they’re coated, they have a shelf life up to two weeks stored in a cool, dark, dry place. You can freeze the decorated containers filled with wrapped truffles for up to three months.
Makes 4 to 5 dozen large, or 8 to 10 dozen small
- 4 cups heavy cream
- 2/3 cup golden corn syrup
- 3 pounds bittersweet chocolate chips
- 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
- 1 1/3 cups Dutch-processed cocoa powder
- 1 cup sanding sugar (available in many colors at LeRoux at Home in Vineyard Haven and other gourmet shops)
➊ In a large, heavy saucepan, combine cream and corn syrup over medium heat, and slowly bring to a boil.
➋ In a large heatproof bowl, place chocolate chips and pour boiling cream mixture on top. Using a clean dry spoon, stir briefly then set aside for 3 to 5 minutes. Use the same spoon to stir in butter, 1 tablespoon at a time. Continue to stir until smooth and glossy. Pour into four separate bowls and set aside to cool completely. Then cover bowls tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 4 hours, or until truffle mixture is very firm.
➌ Depending on the size of truffles you want, use a small melon baller, a mini cookie scoop, or a tablespoon to scoop portions of firm truffle mixture onto wax paper–lined trays. Work with one bowl of truffle mixture at a time, keeping the others refrigerated. Put filled trays into the freezer for 20 to 30 minutes.
➍ Remove trays one at a time from freezer. Using the palms of your hands, quickly roll the scoops into balls and return them to the lined trays. Refrigerate the truffles for 1 hour (or you can freeze them at this stage for up to 3 months).
➎ In a pie pan or a wide, shallow bowl, mix the cocoa and sanding sugar (or other coating variations, below). Roll 5 or 6 chilled truffles in the pan, tilting and shaking the pan (as if you were panning for gold) until they are evenly coated. Return coated truffles to the lined trays. Loosely cover trays with plastic wrap and put them back in the refrigerator to firm up for at least 24 hours. Store in the freezer in a large, airtight container in single layers between sheets of parchment until you are ready to assemble the gifts.
Coating variations for truffles
Each of these coating variations will cover about 2¼ pounds of truffles, or half the recipe.
❤ Chai spice truffle coating: Combine ¼ cup cocoa powder with 1 teaspoon of each of the following ground spices: white pepper, coriander, cloves, cinnamon, allspice, and ginger.
❤ Espresso truffle coating: Combine ¼ cup cocoa powder with 3 tablespoons powdered instant espresso and 2 tablespoons turbinado sugar.
❤ Dark and sweet truffle coating: Combine ¼ cup cocoa powder with 4 tablespoons dark brown sugar and a pinch of sea salt.
Wrapping them up
A gift that can be made and wrapped in advance is a definite asset. These chocolate truffles are a perfect example, as you can start making them months ahead of time. Not only do the truffles freeze well, so does the gift wrap. One more do-ahead tip: Make sure to freeze the truffles at least overnight before packaging them.
Restaurants use white cylindrical cardboard “hot or cold” containers with matching lids for packing ice cream, hot soup, and sauces. They have classic good looks, come in both pint and half-pint sizes, and are very durable. You can find these containers at restaurant-supply stores or online.
Suggested supplies for each gift
- 5-inch squares waxed colored tissue (sometimes called florist tissue or food-service tissue), one for each truffle
- Colored card stock
- 1 classic white cardboard “hot or cold” container with lid
- Colored metal brads or 1 length (14 to 16 inches)
- 1/8-inch-wide ribbon to use for attaching paper decorations
- 1 to 2 paper cupcake liners
- 1 length (18 to 24 inches) 1-inch-wide (or narrower) wired ribbon
How to make freezable gift containers
Roll each frozen truffle diagonally in a square of waxed tissue and twist the ends in opposite directions. Put the wrapped truffles on a baking sheet and store them in the freezer while you embellish the containers.
Cut the colored card stock into flowers, hearts, gift cards, or any shapes you fancy. Attach the card stock embellishments to the container and its lid with colored metal brads. (Alternately, you can wrap the 1/8-inch ribbon around the container and thread it through two small parallel slits cut into one side, then through a hole in the center of the paper cut-outs, then tie in a bow as pictured. If you choose this method, skip the larger bow and leave the top of the container open.) To prepare the container for the larger ribbon, use a craft knife to cut two small parallel slits about 1/2 inch apart and 1 inch wide at the center of the bottom of the container and two more at the center of the lid.
Line the bottom of the container with a paper cupcake liner; pint-size containers can hold 2 layers of small truffles, with 1 cupcake liner per layer. Fill the cupcake liner or liners with wrapped truffles, and cover the truffles with another square of the waxed tissue. Securely push the container lid in place. Repeat with additional containers and supplies, as desired.
Arrange the containers on baking sheets, allowing plenty of space between the containers so the cardstock embellishments are not crushed or wrinkled. Freeze the decorated cartons for up to 3 months.
Add ribbon to the gifts only after you remove them from the freezer. Pass the ribbon through the precut slots on the bottom of the carton. Draw the ends up evenly on either side of the container and pass each end of the ribbon through both of the precuts slots in the lid, threading from left to right with the left-hand ribbon and from right to left with the right-hand ribbon. (You may have to compress the ribbons a bit to get them both to fit through the slots). Tie the ends in a single knot over the center of the lid, between the slots. Finish with a pretty bow.
[Originally published in the 2012 issue of Martha's Vineyard Magazine's Island Weddings.]