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Chocolate truffles seem so decadent, but they're deceptively inexpensive to make — so they're perfect for gifts for Christmas, Valentine's Day, and birthdays. Homemade chocolate truffles can be every bit as smooth and rich as the ones from gourmet chocolatiers. Just be sure to use the very best chocolate you can afford when making this recipe.

Elegant Chocolate Truffles

Special equipment: 1-inch scoop

Preparation time: 40 minutes, plus 2 hours chilling

Cooking time: 10 minutes

Yield: Sixty-two 1-inch balls

10 tablespoons (1-1/4 sticks) butter

2/3 cup heavy cream

12 ounces semisweet or bittersweet chocolate, chopped

1 egg yolk, at room temperature

2 tablespoons orange-flavored liqueur

Unsweetened cocoa, for rolling

  1. Place the butter and heavy cream in a double boiler over, but not touching, hot water. Melt over medium heat. Turn the heat to low.

  2. Add the chocolate, stirring until smooth. Remove from the heat. Whisk in the egg yolk and liqueur until smooth. (If the raw egg yolk is a health concern, replace it with 1 tablespoon pasteurized egg substitute product.)

    Add your favorite flavored liqueur in place of the orange liqueur if you prefer. Chocolate works well with just about anything, including hazelnut (Frangelico), coffee (Kahlúa), raspberry (Chambord), pear (Poire), or cherry (Kirsch).

  3. Refrigerate the chocolate mixture for about 1-1/2 hours, stirring occasionally.

  4. When the chocolate mixture is very firm but not hard, scoop into 1-inch balls. Place on a tray or jelly roll pan lined with wax paper or parchment paper. Chill until firmed again, about 30 minutes.

  5. With clean hands, roll the scooped chocolate into balls. Roll the balls in the cocoa. Refrigerate in an airtight container.

    Truffles can be rerolled in cocoa, if necessary, before giving or serving. They’ll keep two weeks in the refrigerator.

Although you store these truffles in the refrigerator, they’re best enjoyed at room temperature.

Instead of rolling the truffles in cocoa, you can roll them in confectioners’ sugar, a mixture of cocoa and confectioners’ sugar, finely chopped nuts (including pistachios), chocolate or colored sprinkles, coconut, crushed peppermints, or crushed gingersnaps.

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