Hazelnut-Espresso Truffles

hazelnut-espresso truffles

For me there is no bite of chocolate more satisfying than a truffle. Named after their likeness to the rare underground mushrooms, truffles are simply made of chocolate ganache, chocolate melted into hot cream. The ganache is chilled, becoming malleable, and pieces are formed into balls that truly resemble black truffles. Then the truffles are rolled in cocoa, powdered sugar, coconut flakes, or crushed nuts. They're the perfect little chocolate dessert bites, making them ideal for a party, especially one to celebrate New Year's Eve. Enjoy one with a cocktail or a glass of bubbly, and it's the perfect ending to an evening looking toward a new year filled with hope and prosperity.

These chocolate truffles are very easy to make with no cooking or baking required. Hot cream is poured over chocolate to melt it, and then combined with sugar and pulverized chocolate wafers for a bit of texture. The mixture is then flavored with hazelnut and coffee liqueurs along with espresso powder. After chilling, the truffles are formed into balls and rolled in crushed hazelnuts. If you prefer a different nut, almond liqueur and crushed almonds can be substituted. Even though they're small, these truffles are loaded with chocolatey flavor and are just a tad bit boozey. Your guests will find it difficult to keep their hands off them.

Hazelnut-Espresso Truffles

Tip: To roast hazelnuts, place shelled nuts on a rimmed baking sheet and bake at 325 degrees F. for 10 minutes or until the skins begin to show cracks. Rub the nuts with a kitchen towel to remove skins. Grind them in a food processor.

1 9-ounce package chocolate wafers
1 cup confectioners sugar
1/2 cup heavy cream
6 ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
2 teaspoons instant espresso powder
1/4 cup hazelnut liqueur, preferably Frangelico
1/4 cup coffee liqueur, preferably Kahlua
2 cups ground skinless roasted hazelnuts

In the bowl of a food processor, combine chocolate wafers and sugar. Pulse until wafers are completely pulverized and are thoroughly combined with sugar.

In a small saucepan, heat cream over medium heat. Once cream is hot but not yet boiling, remove and pour over chocolate and espresso powder. Stir until chocolate has melted and is smooth. Stir in both liqueurs.

Combine chocolate mixture with wafer mixture; mix until thoroughly combined. Chill until almost firm, about 1 hour.

Use a small releasable ice cream scoop to form truffle balls. Place on trays lined with parchment paper. Chill until balls are firm, about 30 minutes.

Using your hands, form misshapen lumps into shapely balls and roll in ground hazelnuts, pressing and sprinkling nuts onto each ball. Place back on trays and refrigerate until firm. Remove from refrigerator 10 minutes before servings. Yield: 40 truffles.