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Author Notes: Bold, dark and boozy. That’s how I like my men and my truffles. I was still at the agency when Mad Men first premiered and fully supported the waves of accolades that followed. Like most I couldn’t resist falling for the sexy, brooding, borderline alcoholic Don Draper. What better way to gear up for the upcoming 7th season this spring than combining my two favorite things: chocolate and booze.
Truffles are a great way to impress people with really minimal effort. When you realize how easy they are to make, the possibilities of creativity are endless. The base for truffles is a ganache, and there are only three main rules to making a good ganache: using a ratio of 2:1 chocolate to heavy cream (by weight), using good quality chocolate, and allowing the ganache to set before handling. Now, if you’ve done your homework and discovered the excuse that there are health benefits to eating dark chocolate, which include it being a great source of antioxidants, lowering blood pressure, and actually having a very low Glycemic index (something my diabetic husband constantly reminds me of when whole bars disappear from our pantry). As long we are talking chocolate that is 70% coco solids or higher don’t feel so guilty using the good stuff.
Regarding the booze, if you are a Mad Men fan you will know that the only monogamous relationship Don maintains is with his Old Fashioneds (yes that is the plural of Old Fashioned). The history of the Old Fashioned is an interesting one and more or less the history of cocktails in American so to speak. At the dawn of the 19th century before prohibition, a rudimentary cocktail was mixture of a particular spirit, sugar, bitters, and water. Back then a bartender would moisten a cube of sugar with house made bitters, drop in a perfectly cut ice, and hand you the glass with your choice of spirit to pour your own drink. Prohibition changed alot of the drinking culture in America and popularized flavored liqueurs, syrups, and even fruit garnishes to help cover up the low grade quality of the alcohol at the time. After the repeal of the prohibition the sugary concoctions carried on, but those that preferred a more classic drink, such as two fingers of Rye Whiskey with a cube of sugar and angostura bitters, would merely request a “whiskey old-fashioned”. By the mid century whiskey and bourbon were so common that the spirit was dropped from the name all together. And there you have it folks, another example of why Don Draper is so much cooler than all of us.
Like our protagonist, these truffles may have a shiny and hard exterior but inside they are a bittersweet, melt-in-your-mouth mush with dare I say emotional complexity. And don’t be fooled by their size, they pack enough sauce to make them legally over the limit. Might as well make an afternoon of it and pour yourself a drink while you roll these guys out. If for some reason they are not gone within an hour, you can store them in the fridge for up to a week, just bring them back to room temperature before serving. So go on and do what Don does best: indulge. —Madhuri Sharma
Makes 30 truffles
- 5 ounces heavy cream
- 10 ounces bittersweet chocolate (70% or higher), chopped
- 1/4 cup Bourbon, rye, or whiskey
- 3-4 dashes Angostura bitters
- 1/2 cup Turbinado sugar
- 1 orange, zested
- In a small saucepan over medium heat, bring the heavy cream to a gentle simmer. Place the chocolate in a medium size bowl and pour the hot cream over. After a minute gently whisk the mixture to allow the chocolate to evenly melt. When the chocolate is fully incorporated, stir in the alcohol and bitters and mix thoroughly. Taste before adding any more booze or bitters; you do not want to make the ganache too soupy. Smooth out the top layer, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
- While the ganache sets, mix the sugar with the zest and pour in out in a single layer over a sheet of parchment paper on a sheet tray or flat surface. Allow the sugar and zest to air dry for 15 minutes.
- Remove the ganache from the refrigerator. Scoop two teaspoons worth of ganache, and using the palms of your hands roll it into a ball. Using the clean tips of your finger roll the ball in the sugar mixture until well coated and place on a separate sheet tray lined with parchment paper. Continue until all the ganache is rolled, washing your hands in between if things get too sticky. If it is taking a while and the ganache becomes too soft, stick it back in the fridge for 10 minutes. When all the truffles have been rolled and coated place the sheet tray in the fridge for 20 minutes to set. Serve and enjoy!