Bourbon Vanilla Truffles
Like Mint Juleps, Bourbon Balls are a special treat that take me back to my roots in Kentucky. There is a wonderful candy shop there that makes the very best of these delicious candies. In fact Rebecca Ruth Candy, located in Frankfort, Kentucky, claims that their founder, Ruth Hanly Booe, is the inventor of Bourbon Balls.
I have made Bourbon Balls a few times. After visiting the Rebecca Ruth Candy shop in Frankfort, I asked my aunt if she had a recipe that might come close to the flavor and texture of the fine candies you could buy there. After looking through her cookbook collection she gave me a recipe for Bourbon Balls much like the ones sold at Rebecca Ruth's. It calls for a creamy fondant center, laced with bourbon whiskey and enrobed in dark chocolate. They are everything a holiday specialty should be: sweet, fragrant, memorable, with a taste reminiscent of another time and place. I hope I can find that recipe before Christmas rolls around this year.
Meanwhile, I thought I would come up with a chocolate truffle recipe that blends the same delicious and evocative flavors in a delectable chocolate ganache. I infused cream with a fragrant vanilla bean to add luscious depth to the bouquet and I added brown sugar for a hint of casual down-home southern sweetness. These were warmed and poured over semi-sweet chocolate and gently stirred until the chocolate was melted and smooth. Last, I added a shot of Kentucky bourbon whiskey (I used Bulleit Bourbon which seems to taste particularly nice in candy) to lend the flavor a slight convivial sparkle and smooth elegant finish. It’s an agreeable combination of flavors that takes me home to Kentucky, to memories of the glistening warmth of spring sunshine resting on rolling fields, softly carpeted in bluegrass, and the generous comfort of southern hospitality.
Bourbon Vanilla Truffles
6 oz. semi-sweet chocolate
½ cup cream
½ of a vanilla bean
1 Tablespoon brown sugar
1 Tablespoon bourbon whiskey
2 tablespoons cocoa powder
6 oz melted chocolate for dipping
Melt 6 ounces of chocolate in the top of a double boiler or in a metal bowl over hot, not boiling, water. Set aside.
Pour cream into a small saucepan. Add half of a vanilla bean and the brown sugar. Cook over low heat until the cream begins to boil and is heated through. Remove from heat.
Remove the vanilla bean. Cut the bean open and scrape the seeds into the cream mixture. Discard the hull.
Add the cream mixture and the bourbon to the melted chocolate and stir or whisk until well combined.
Set the mixture aside until cool and thick, but not hard, approximately two or three hours.
(For photos from the next few steps in the process see my post for Vanilla Chile Truffles.)
When thick, place the chocolate mixture in a Ziploc freezer bag. Seal the bag and snip a ½ inch piece from a lower corner of the bag. Pipe the chocolate mixture onto waxed paper or parchment in teaspoon sized dollops. (I have also used a small cookie scoop to shape the ganache into rough 1- inch balls for this step, if the mixture is fairly firm.) Place in the refrigerator or freezer until very firm, approximately 2 hours.
Place the 2 tablespoons of cocoa powder in a shallow bowl. Remove the chocolate from the refrigerator or freezer. Place each dollop in the cocoa powder and then roll it in your hands to form a ball or longer log shaped pieces. (This will be messy!)
Place the truffles on a new piece of waxed paper or parchment. When all dollops have been shaped, place the chocolate back in the refrigerator until set.
At this point the ganache can be rolled in cocoa powder again just before serving, or they can be dipped in chocolate.
To dip the truffles in chocolate, skip the second cocoa powder dusting and when the shaped chocolate ganache has set, melt 6 ounces of chocolate in the top of a double boiler or in a small metal bowl over hot, not boiling, water.
Dip the chocolate ganache into the melted chocolate, shaking gently to help the excess chocolate drip back into the pan before placing the finished truffle on waxed paper. Garnish by placing a toasted pecan piece on top before the chocolate sets. Allow chocolate to cool until the chocolate coating is firm.
For more tips on chocolate dipping check out the instructions on Sum.ptuo.us or About.com.
Truffles can be stored in the refrigerator for several weeks, however, without tempering, the chocolate coating may bloom (get whitish spots or streaks) which does not effect the quality of the truffle but is generally considered unattractive. To avoid this the chocolate can be tempered before dipping. For information on tempering look again to Sum.ptuo.us or see what Chocolate Runner's Blog had to say. Or ignore the risk of Chocolate Bloom and simply enjoy the truffles right away, within a day or two.
Truffles should be stored in the refrigerator but are best served at room temperature.