My favorite sweet, hands down, is dark chocolate. So I was excited to hear that this month's Sugar High Friday theme was truffles, since it provided me with an excellent opportunity to play with chocolate. I recently bought a container of Royaltine ( very thin wafer shards used in some pastry and confectionery--the flavor is reminiscent of waffle cones) and was anxious to put it to good use.
I decided to create a recipe to mimic Ferrero Rocher chocolates--the gold-covered spheres containing whole hazelnuts, hazelnut-chocolate paste, wafer, and crushed nuts.
This recipe was a success in the sense that the resulting truffles tasted wonderful. But when judged against my original intent to create a confection that closely mirrored Ferrero Rocher chocolates, I have to say it could use a little more work.
I wasn't sure the best way to create the ganache itself. The Rocher candies have a semi-runny center that's basically Nutella paste. I was open to using Nutella, but I needed a stiffer chocolate for the outside so that I could roll the truffles. So I tried two different methods of creating hazelnut-chocolate ganache:
Test batch 1: 5 oz Gianduja chocolate (smooth milk chocolate mixed with hazelnut paste; strong hazelnut flavor) and 1 oz bittersweet chocolate, plus 1/3 cup cream
Test batch 2: 6 oz bittersweet chocolate, 1/3 cup cream, 1/2 cup Nutella
The batch with the Gianduja chocolate had an amazing flavor and was silky smooth in texture. However, the ganache never set firmly enough to roll, so next time I would have to reduce the cream or increase the bittersweet chocolate to give it body. The Nutella batch never matched the intense hazelnut flavor, and the Nutella created a stiffer, slightly grainy texture.
So ultimately I was left with two chocolate-hazelnut ganaches that were each lacking either the flavor or the texture I was seeking. Rather than starting over (Nutella doesn't grow on trees, after all!) I decided to work with what I had and create a hybrid candy using both. Thus, the knockoff Ferrero Rocher truffle was born.
Truffle cross section: whole hazelnut in the center, surrounded by silky hazelnut-chocolate paste and wafer flakes, enclosed by stiffer Nutella-chocolate ganache, rolled in chopped hazelnuts.
To assemble, I created thin discs of the stiffer Nutella-chocolate mixture. After shaping them I put them back in the fridge to firm up for another 5-10 minutes.
I spooned a dab of the delicious gianduja chocolate ganache into the center of my Nutella round.
Then the chocolate got a generous sprinkle of Royaltine wafer flakes. This was meant to mimic the wafer shell that encloses the Nutella in the Rocher candy. In the final product, though, the wafer was lost in all the chocolate. Next time I'll increase the wafer content.
Voila! As I said, you would never confuse them with original Rocher candies, but the combination of the different textures of the ganache, along with the wafers and the whole and chopped nuts, is really incredible. And in my opinion, you can never go wrong with hazelnut and chocolate.