On the other side of the plate glass window, maybe a dozen people are peering intently at me. Why not, I must be a sight – wearing a black hairnet like some lunch lady, an oversized milk chocolate colored T-shirt covered with drips of real bittersweet chocolate and my hands covered in more of the stuff. I probably have cocoa powder all over me. I couldn’t care less, I’m at Charles Chocolates’ production facility in the San Francisco Bay area (Emeryville, CA) learning how to make truffles from owner Chuck Siegel, probably the sweetest man in chocolate. For more on my class, please check out my post on Sugar Savvy.
Much of the commercial kitchen at Charles Chocolates’ production facility can be viewed from a 40-foot long window. I imagine the gaping tour group was jealous because I got to go inside Chuck’s chocolate alchemy laboratory where everything comes out tasting golden. It was an amazing day and I hope you’ll check out the Sugar Savvy piece and read all about my experience and Charles Chocolates. Be sure to check out the website for info on the company, products, classes and other events, tours, newsletters and recipes.
Here’s one of the recipes we made that day. You can also find it on the website:
Bittersweet Chocolate Truffles(from Charles Chocolates website)
1 lb. bittersweet chocolate (Chuck recommends E. Guittard 72% or El Rey 71%), finely chopped.
1 cup organic heavy cream or whipping cream (preferably not “Ultra-Pasteurized”)
1 whole vanilla bean
8 ounces unsweetened cocoa powder
"In a small saucepan over medium heat, bring the cream to a gentle boil. Remove from heat. Split the vanilla bean open and scrape out the vanilla seed into the cream and let steep for 10 minutes. Bring the cream back to a gentle boil over medium heat. Pour the cream over the finely chopped chocolate and let sit for 5 minutes.
"Whisk the chocolate and cream mixture together until very smooth. This is referred to as ganache, a mixture of chocolate and cream. Refrigerate in an airtight container, for at least 5 hours or overnight.
"Using a small melon baller or a small teaspoon, scoop small balls of ganache into your hand and roll until somewhat smooth and round. These should be approximately 1” in diameter. Place cocoa powder in a shallow bowl or pan. Roll the truffles in cocoa powder to coat.
"Truffles may be stored for up to two weeks at a cool room temperature (55-65 degrees) in an airtight container. Do not refrigerate or freeze; this damages the texture of the creamy ganache."
Update 11/17/11: Sadly, Charles Chocolates went out of business this year not long after it moved its production facility and cafe to San Francisco. The website (and links above) are no longer operational. Sugar Savvy is long gone and the links for that as well, however, thanks to the Wayback Machine -- here's a link to my Charles Chocolate post. Also from the Wayback Machine is this link to the company's defunct website and its recipe page.