Silky melt-on-your tongue ganache cased inside a brittle chocolate shell. Snap, crackle – pop it in your mouth delight! Truffles are not only one of life’s confectionery pleasures, but a splendid addition to your holiday dessert table and a fine gift-giving option.
Each year I embark on a holiday truffle journey that includes old-school favorites like bourbon balls and eggnog creams while incorporating new flavor creations generally inspired by current alcohol trends. In my baking world, alcohol and chocolate are simpatico (in my general cooking world alcohol is simpatico with everything, but I digress…)
This year, Mezcal tops the list of must-have holiday truffle flavorings. Twin kin to Tequila, Mezcal is a pure agave spirit but unlike Tequila, Mezcal may be produced using variant types of agave including varieties found in the wild. This, along with variant traditional production techniques is what gives each Mezcal an individual personality representative of the region and distiller.
Espadin Marca Negra Mezcal is the guest of honor in my white chocolate truffles, adding smoky, herbal and spicy notes to the ganache. A gold medal hand-crafted Mezcal, Marca Negra is double-distilled in copper pot stills using traditional methods passed down from generation to generation of master distillers. The complexity of this blend makes it a fabulous choice to savor by the glass but the intensity of deep flavors also makes it a wicked match for a rich, hand-made truffle.
Mezcal White Chocolate Truffles
14 ounces White Baking Chocolate, chopped
1/2 cup Heavy Cream
2 tablespoons Espadin Marca Negra Mezcal
Using a double boiler, warm cream over a medium heat until thoroughly heated. Gently stir in white chocolate. Whisk mixture until chocolate is completely melted and incorporated into the cream. Ganache mixture should be steaming but not boiling. (If mix begins to boil, reduce heat.)
Add Mezcal. Whisk until full incorporated. Remove ganache mixture from heat.
Transfer heated ganache to a ceramic (or glass) bowl. Cool on a wire baking rack. When mix is cooled, cover with saran wrap and allow ganache to sit for several hours (preferably overnight.)
When ganache has completely set (it will be firm, yet pliable,) line a baking sheet with wax paper and use a small cookie/candy scoop to shape 1-inch balls. If your cookie scoop leaves any impression on the ganache, use your fingers to gently smooth and re-shape.
Sprinkle the tops of the truffle balls with a light dusting of chili powder. Allow truffle balls to set for 1-2 hours. A thin layer of crust will develop and the truffles will store easily now. Store the soft truffles in a sealed container in a cool, dark location until you are ready to serve or gift. Truffles will last 7-10 days using this method. Truffles may be stored in the refrigerator up to 1 month, but it will change the consistency (smoothness) of the truffle over time.
Optionally, truffles may be chocolate-coated to obtain a harder, brittle shell. When truffles are shaped, set them without a dusting of chili powder. When they are set, use a double boiler to melt 4-6 ounces of white, dark or milk chocolate (whatever your preference is.)
Dip truffles, individually, into melted chocolate. Allow excess chocolate to drip off and then place truffles on a wax paper-lined baking sheet. Sprinkle top with chili powder and allow truffle to cool and harden completely. Storage methods remain the same.