Cooking by kittee:

Chocolate Truffles

For the cashew cream:

1. Combine half the cashews and half the water in the bowl of a blender and mix for one minute. Add the remaining water and half the remaining cashews and mix for 3 more minutes, or until any large chunks are ground up.

2. Let the liquid settle, unplug the machine and carefully check the thickness of the liquid. If the liquid is smooth and very thick, reserve remaining cashews for another purpose. Otherwise, plug the blender back in, add the remaining cashews and min 4-5 minutes more. Turn the blender off, scrape down the sides of the bowl and mix another minute.

3. Unplug again and test the liquid. If it is still gritty, process until it is quite smooth. When cream is smooth, turn off the blender and measure out 3/4 cup of the cashew cream and set it aside at room temperature.

4. Place the chocolate in a clean, dry, stainless steel bowl. Set the bowl over a small pan of water heated to just below simmering.

For the ganache:

1. Stir the chocolate occasionally and leave over heat until almost all of it has melted. Turn off the flame and quickly take the chocolate away from the stove (try not to let any steam get into it).

2. Let the chocolate cool until the bowl is no longer hot to the touch.

3. Gently stir in the cashew cream, stirring constantly but smoothly (stirring too hard will create air bubbles). Stir until the mixture is fully combined, with no free-floating puddles of cashew cream.

4. Stir in the bourbon (if using) in the same manner.

5. Cover the surface of the ganache with a layer of clean plastic wrap and place in the fridge to set for at least two hours.

6. When the ganache has set, get out two plates and dust them lightly with the cocoa. Have a clean teaspoon ready.

7. Take the ganache out of the fridge and remove the plastic wrap. Dust your hands lightly with cocoa.

8. Scoop a teaspoonful of ganache from the bowl and roll it very quickly and gently between your hands to form a ball.

9. Set the truffle on one of the plates. Repeat in the same way with the remaining ganache.

10. If you are working in a warm room, you may need to return the ganache to the fridge occasionally to reset it.

11. When done, dust the truffles well with the cocoa, cover the plates with plastic wrap and place in the fridge or freezer. They will keep well frozen for several weeks. (If you want to try one of the following coatings, do not dust the truffles with cocoa. Instead, freeze them overnight and then go directly to the following steps.)

Optional Coatings
From The Washington Post

1. Sprinkle the hazelnuts and cocoa in separate flat dishes (cake pans work well). Set aside.

2. In a bowl that has been set over a pan of barely simmering water, melt the semi-sweet chocolate and the vegetable oil, stirring gently until smooth.

3. Do not let the chocolate get hot. It should be warm enough so that if you smeared some on your skin, it would be comfortable (since that's exactly what you're going to do).

4. Line another baking sheet with waxed paper and keep it nearby.

5. Remove the chocolate from the heat.

6. Make sure your hands are very clean.

7. Here comes the fun part: With a spatula in one hand, smear the palm of your other hand with 2 or 3 tablespoons of the melted chocolate.

8. Pick up one of the chocolate truffles, and using your fingertips, roll it around to coat it with chocolate, and drop it onto the waxed paper.

9. The initial amount of chocolate in your hand should do nicely for the first three or four truffles; smear on more as you go, until all of the chocolate balls have been coated.

10. The chocolate truffles should set up quickly against their cold insides. If not, slide the truffles into the freezer for a few minutes. (Yes, you will be standing there with chocolate on your palm. If you are compulsive, scrape it off and wash your hands; otherwise, hang in there for those few moments. Don't lick it off! You still need it.

11. If the chocolate has cooled, place it back over the simmering water to warm it.

12. Remove the truffles from the freezer and decide how many plain truffles you want, how many rolled in cocoa, how many rolled in hazelnuts. (All the truffles are coated in chocolate a second time. The plain ones are then finished, the rest are then rolled either in hazelnuts or cocoa.)

13. Start with the plain ones. Repeat the smear-and-roll process, again dropping them on the waxed paper.

14. Do the cocoa ones next: After rolling the truffle in in your chocolated palm, drop it onto the cocoa and give the plate or pan a shake to coat the truffle.

15. Do the equivalent with the hazelnuts for the hazelnut-covered truffles.

16. Again, if your work area is warm, place the truffles in the fridge (no need for the freezer this time) for several minutes to set them up.

17. Before serving, gently shake the cocoa-coated truffles in a mesh strainer to remove any excess cocoa.

18. To serve, place the truffles in colorful candy cups. Store them in a cool place, where they will keep for several weeks. The truffles freeze well, too, although they are better frozen with just the "innards" and coated fresh as needed.

Cooking by kittee: