There is no perfect name for these little treats, because they’re a cross between truffles and rum balls. So I call them truffle balls. I love to make up recipes for these bite-sized treats because just about everything works. Real chocolate truffles aren’t difficult to make, I’ve heard, but they’re way more delicate in nature. Plus I’m no chocolatier. These “balls” are sturdier, with a cookie crumb or cake mixed with chocolate, nuts, and spices, plus sometimes a liqueur.
I’ve made a holiday version with a gingersnap cookie base, called ginger spice truffles, with cinnamon and ginger. I created that recipe for a holiday charity event many years ago because the ingredients are inexpensive, but the individual truffle balls are great for serving hundreds of people. But it’s really easy to only make a couple of dozen truffle balls, too.
Years ago I won the top award for having the best chocolate at a local Chocolate & Champagne Gala. These Florentine truffle balls are what I made, using ladyfingers, almonds, butter, and chocolate. There are so many ways to make truffle balls.
For a dinner party, something like truffle balls are an appreciated treat served with espresso or sherry. They’re not an overbearing dessert like a huge slice of cake that one feels obligated to eat.
At the bottom of this post is a guideline for creating your own truffle ball recipe. For now, here’s my most recent creation that I made for my cashew-loving husband. Any nut butter can be substituted. Even a chunky nut butter. I doubled the recipe, because the balls freeze well.
Chocolate Cashew Truffle Balls Makes about 2 dozen
8 ounces semi-sweet chocolate
4 ounces or 1 stick unsalted butter
3/4 cup or 6 ounces cashew butter
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 ounces, or approximately 6 graham cracker squares
2 heaping tablespoons cocoa, sieved
2 heaping tablespoons confectioners’ sugar, sieved
In the top of a double boiler, place the broken up chocolate, butter, cashew butter, and vanilla extract.
Slowly, over low heat, let the water heat up and allow the chocolate and butter to melt. Make sure the water doesn’t boil. Using a stiff spatula, stir occasionally. Remember, you’re not trying to cook these ingredients, simply melt them, and it’s safer if you do it slowly.
When the ingredients have blended together smoothly, remove the pan from atop the pot and set aside for a few minutes.
Meanwhile, place the graham crackers in the bowl of a food processor. Process until smooth, then place in a large bowl.
Pour the chocolate mixture into the graham crackers and stir.
Make sure the chocolate and graham crackers are uniformly combined. Cover the bowl with plastic and refrigerate for at least 2 hours. The mixture should be cold.
When you’re ready to make the balls, sift together the cocoa powder and confectioners’ sugar together in a medium-sized bowl and set aside.
Scoop out the “dough” using a teaspoon or cookie scoop. Roll the dough into similarly-sized balls, and then place them in the cocoa-confectioners’ sugar mixture. After you’ve made 4 or 5, toss them in the coating, then place them in a serving bowl, or a plastic bag. (If you’re not serving immediately, they store very well in a sealable bag.)
Right before serving, take them out of the freezer or refrigerator and let warm slightly. They are not as sensitive to melting as real truffles, but I wouldn’t put these out hours before a party, either. The texture should be firm, yet melt in your mouth.
These are really so good. I don’t really taste the cashew flavor, it’s like a new nutella flavor that’s dominated by good chocolate.
If you want to create your own recipe for truffle balls, here are some guidelines:
1. Pick a cookie, either a flavored cookie (like gingersnaps) or a plain one (like shortbread). Make it seasonal!
2. Pick a chocolate – the sweetness of the chocolate depends on the other ingredients.
3. Pick a liqueur. Because these truffle balls are not cooked, don’t go overboard. Alternatively use espresso.
4. Butter is a must because it helps firm up the balls and add richness.
5. Extraneous ingredients can include nuts, crystallized ginger, chocolate chips, broken candies or dried fruits.
6. Seasoning, if desired, can be cinnamon, nutmeg, espresso powder, etc.
7. Pick a coating. Truffle balls need something to fancy them up a little, which can be melted chocolate into which they’re dipped, or a combination of cocoa powder and confectioners’ sugar, like I used. Adjust the ratio depending on how sweet you want the coating; just cocoa, or even cocoa mix will work just as well. I prefer my truffle balls not cloyingly sweet.