Earl Grey-Spiked Chocolate Truffles
Truffles are actually a fungus that grows under ground at the base of trees, but these chocolate treats are meant to look like the dirt[ covered real truffle but be chocolate through and through. Virgin pigs are used to sniff the real thing out but these can be easily sensed by any chocolate lover (virgin or not!). We've noticed some interesting behavior among people who are lucky enough to eat these often ? our regulars at Tru. Just the word "truffles" is enough to make these chocolate lovers' nostrils twitch with excitement, like a truffle hound on the scent. While waiting for the dessert course, they start bouncing with anticipation. And when they actually spot the lovely cocoa-covered rounds heading for the table, well...we don't want to embarrass our customers. Try them for yourself and see what happens. These are undoubtedly the best truffles we've ever had, only excepting those of the masters at the Bernachon pastry shop in Lyon, who created the mixture of chocolate and creme fraiche that they are based on. When Gale was apprenticing at the Bernachon bakery, she used to eat these at night in her hotel room, one after another, trying to figure out how the Bernachons made them so wonderful. Making truffles is simple and fun, especially when you're dipping them in chocolate and nestling them in cocoa powder -- but don't forget to start the process a few days ahead.]
In a saucepan, combine the creme fraiche and tea and bring to a boil over medium heat. As soon as it boils, turn off the heat.
Meanwhile, put the chopped bittersweet chocolate in a medium bowl. Strain the hot creme fraiche mixture into the bowl. Whisk until the chocolate is melted and the mixture is smooth. Cover and let rest in a cool place overnight. The mixture will become firm but not hard.
The next day, using a pastry bag fitted with a large plain tip, pipe bite-size "kisses" (like Hershey's Kisses) of the mixture onto parchment paper-lined baking sheets. Refrigerate briefly just until set, about 30 minutes. Use your palm to gently press down the point that sticks up on each truffle. Transfer to the freezer and freeze until hard, 2 to 3 hours or overnight.
In the top of a double boiler set over barely simmering water, melt the semisweet chocolate. It should be liquid, but not so hot that you can't touch it; if it is too hot for you, wear disposable surgical gloves. Spread the cocoa powder out on a sheet pan with sides.
Working in 2 batches if necessary to avoid crowding the pan of cocoa, dip the frozen truffle centers 1 at a time into the melted chocolate, shake off any excess, and set them down in the cocoa. When all the truffle centers are dipped and the chocolate has started to set, gently but thoroughly shake the sheet pan to roll the truffles around in the cocoa until coated. Carefully remove to another sheet pan and refrigerate, uncovered, 30 minutes. (You can sift the unused cocoa and use it for another purpose.)
Transfer to an airtight container and keep chilled until almost ready to serve. Bring to room temperature before serving.
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