Have I extolled the virtues of Bittersweet, by Alice Medrich, here yet? I guess not. It’s a wonderful chocolate cookbook that I’ve been working through off and on; very good recipes, and many of them aren’t very difficult. Today, for example, I decided to make her “Truffles Au Cocolat” again, for the third time; since I’ve gotten recipe requests for it before, I figured I might as well put it in the blog. So here it is!

Truffles Au Cocolat

1 lb. bittersweet or semisweet chocolate (50-62 percent), coarsely chopped
10 Tbsp (1 1/4 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
2 large egg yolks, at room temperature
1/2 cup boiling water or freshly brewed espresso
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

Line the bottom and sides of an 8-inch square pan with tinfoil.

Melt the chocolate and butter together. Combine the egg yolks and water/espresso; mix with a spatula, scraping the bowl to prevent the eggs from scrambling. Then mix that into the chocolate, stirring gently until completely blended and smooth. Pour the mixture through a fine-mesh strainer into the pan, and spread evenly. Cover and refrigerate until firm (at least 2 hours).

Remove pan from fridge; use liner to transfer the sheet of chocolate to a cutting board. Allow it to soften until you can cut it without cracking, about 30 minutes if it is very hard. Invert the sheet and peel off the liner. Put the cocoa powder in a bowl. Cut the chocolate sheet into 1-inch or smaller squares; toss them in the cocoal powder.

Store tightly covered in fridge (up to 2 weeks; up to 3 months in freezer). Let warm up for about 20 minutes before serving.

I’ve simplified the recipe a bit; in particular, she wants you to heat the egg mixture in a double-boiler (she actually recommends an improvised double-boiler, but never mind that) until they reach 160 degrees on an instant-read thermometer. (This is presumably to kill bacteria.) The thing is, just adding the boiling water already brings the mixture up to that temperature, so that step seems not very useful to me. Also, she tells you how to modify the recipe if you’re using higher-percentage chocolate (she tells you how to do that for all the recipes in the book – it’s one of the things I like about it, since it gives the recipes a more experimental feel). When you press the mixture through the strainer, make sure you scrape off the bottom of the strainer. (It’s not clear to me whether the strainer has any role other than to strain out scrambled eggs, for what that’s worth.)

If you’re looking for good chocolate, by the way, Scharffen Berger does a good job. I recommend their factory tour the next time you’re in Berkeley, too.

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