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Basic Chocolate Truffles

Basic Chocolate Truffles Makes about 30 1-inch pieces Swoon-worthy truffles are created with four ingredients and just a few minutes of hands-on time. Use your best chocolate, manage the temperatures along the way, and apply a little patience as the truffles chill and cure. You’ll find them easy to make, and wonderful to share.

Ingredients:

8 oz. dark chocolate (60% cacao or greater)

1/2 cup heavy cream

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/4 cup dark cocoa for dusting

Directions:

  1. Prepare the chocolate by chopping into small pieces about the size of chocolate chips or smaller. Place in a shallow bowl.
  2. Warm the cream in a small (2 qt) saucier to just below the simmering point. Remove from heat. Add the vanilla extract (or other flavorings).
  3. Carefully pour the cream over the chocolate. Let set undisturbed for about 5 minutes, then stir gently until the cream and chocolate combine into a silky smooth mixture. (Do not add the chocolate to the cream; the pan will hold too much heat and potentially affect the chocolate.) If additional warmth is needed to completely melt the chocolate, place the bowl over simmering water, or heat for 10 second intervals in a microwave oven stirring after each interval. Let cool to room temperature, about 30-45 minutes. If the ganache separates during mixing, simply add a few drops of cold cream and stir.
  4. Once at room temperature the ganache is ready to be refrigerated for an hour or longer until ready to assemble the truffles. When chilling, cover well to avoid odors infiltrating the chocolate.
  5. When ready to form the truffles, use a small scoop or two spoons to portion the chocolate into rough 1-inch balls. Leave the pieces in rustic form, or briefly roll the chocolate into balls with the palms of your hands – work quickly to minimize any melting from the heat of your hands. Roll the truffles in cocoa powder or another covering of your choice.

Alternate Coverings: Try different coverings for scooped truffle balls for another look and taste: white powdered sugar, Chopped nuts (almonds, pecans, walnuts, pistachios, salted peanuts), cacao nibs, finely shredded coconut

Variations: Enjoy any number of distinctly flavored truffles by adding flavorings to the warm cream: Amaretto Truffles – add 1 tablespoon of Amaretto liqueur Mint Truffles – add 1 teaspoon peppermint extract Grand Marnier Truffles – add 1 tablespoon of the orange-flavored, Grand Marnier liqueur Cinnamon Truffles – add 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon Spicy Truffles – add 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

Fried Apple Pies

For the crust:
  • 4 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for rolling
  • 1-1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 3/4 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 cup (8 Tbs.) vegetable shortening, melted and cooled 
  • 2 large eggs
  • 3/4 cup whole milk
For the filling:
  • 1/2 cup apple cider or apple juice
  • 1 Tbs. cornstarch
  • 5 firm, juicy apples (preferably Braeburn), peeled, cored, and diced into 1/4-inch cubes
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg (preferably freshly ground)
  • 1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1 vanilla bean, halved widthwise
  • 1 Tbs.unsalted butter
To make the dough

Sift the flour, baking powder, and salt into the bowl of a stand mixer (use a large bowl if mixing by hand). Add the melted shortening, eggs, and milk. Using the paddle attachment, mix the dough on low speed until the dry ingredients are moistened. Increase the speed to medium and knead the dough until it is no longer sticky, about 2 to 3 minutes, adding more flour, one tablespoon at a time, if the dough seems very wet or sticky. (If mixing by hand, it will take about 5 minutes to knead the dough.) Divide the dough in half, wrap each half in plastic wrap, and refrigerate for 1 hour.

 To make the filling

Meanwhile, make the apple filling. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. Whisk 1/4 cup of the apple juice or cider with the cornstarch in a small bowl and set aside. Place the apples, sugar, nutmeg, and cinnamon in a large bowl. Wrap one half of the vanilla bean well in plastic wrap, and reserve for another use. Slice the remaining half lengthwise down the middle. Open the pod and use the knife to scrape out the seeds; discard the pod. Add the seeds to the apples and toss with the sugar and spices. 

Melt the butter in a large pot over medium-high heat. Once melted, let the butter simmer for 20 seconds, then stir in the apples. Cook with a lid askew until the apples start to soften, about 5 to 7 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the remaining 1/4 cup of apple juice or cider and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the liquid is reduced by half, about 2 to 3 minutes. Stir in the cornstarch slurry and cook until the mixture is thickened, 3 to 4 minutes. Transfer to the prepared baking sheet (or a large bowl) and cool to room temperature, and then cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until cold.

To make the piecrusts

Once the apples have chilled, make the pie crusts. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. Place a small dish of water next to your work surface. Generously flour the work surface and roll one dough ball into a 1/8-inch-thick circle. Use a 3 1/2- to 4-inch biscuit or cookie cutter to cut out rounds from the dough. Place the circles on the prepared baking sheet, cover with a sheet of parchment paper and place them in the refrigerator to keep cool. Set the dough scraps aside and reflour your work surface. Repeat with the second piece of dough and refrigerate the stamped out rounds. Press all of the scraps together, roll them into a 1/8-inch-thick circle, cut out rounds, and refrigerate. Discard the leftover scraps. (Discard the scraps after rolling the second time; the dough gets too tough to roll a third time.)

To assemble and cook the pies

Place 1 1/2 to 2 Tbs. of cold apple filling in the center of each dough circle. Using your finger or a pastry brush, moisten the edge of the bottom half of the circle with water and fold the top half over, bringing the edges together and pressing them tightly to seal. Using firm pressure, crimp the edges of the dough using an upturned fork. Refrigerate the filled pies while you heat the oil.

Line a plate with paper towels. Pour enough peanut oil into a large pot to fill it to a 3-inch depth and bring to a temperature of 375°F over high heat. Fry a few turnovers (you don't want to fry too many at one time, otherwise the temperature of the oil will drop and the turnovers will become greasy) until all sides are golden brown, about 3 to 5 minutes, turning them over often. Transfer to the prepared plate to drain while you fry the remaining turnovers. Serve warm or at room temperature with plenty of powdered sugar on top.

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