This part of my life began when my very sick partner was diagnosed with Celiac. Even the slightest exposure to gluten can make him very ill for several days, so I have pursued gluten-free options with thorough aggression. In the U.S. a recent surge of gluten awareness means we have more choices than ever, but it still means hunting and analyzing and tracking down parent companies. After several years now of doing so, I want to share my tricks and tips with others who are still struggling.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

French Chocolate Truffles (gluten-free)

Makes about 3 dozen.

9 and 1/2 ounces semisweet baking chocolate
1/4 cup cocoa powder
1/4 cup confectioner's sugar (powdered sugar)
3/4 cup whipping cream
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter (unsalted)
3 Tablespoons white granulated sugar
3 Tablespoons Grand Marnier
1 pound ice cubes

  1. Measure out Grand Marnier into a small cup and set it within reach (but not where you'll tip it over).
  2. Fill the bottom of a large bowl with ice and add several inches of water.  The bowl should fit the top of your double-boiler. 
  3. Cover two cookie sheets with wax or parchment paper and make room for them in the refrigerator.
  4. Break chocolate into chunks, either as pre-scored by manufacturer or approx 1/2" to 1" pieces.
  5. Fill the bottom of a double boiler with water
Note:  you can improvise a double-boiler by setting a metal bowl in a pot of boiling water so that it floats.  Make sure the bowl is large enough that it can not tip over in the pot, but small enough to allow steam to escape around it.  The metal bowl is then the "top" of your double-boiler.

  1. Place chocolate pieces in top half of the double-boiler
  2. Bring water beneath to a boil then reduce to low heat so that it barely simmers. Stir the chocolate occasionally until it is melted smooth.
  3. In the meantime, bring cream, sugar and butter to a boil over medium heat, stirring slowly but constantly. Use a flat edge wooden spoon or silicone spatula to scrape bottom and keep it from scorching.
  4. Once the cream is boiling and the chocolate is melted and smooth, whisk the cream into it until combined.
  5. Add the Grand Marnier and stir it in.
  6. Place the bowl with the mixture into the pan of ice water and whisk lightly until the mixture thickens. Do not use an electric beater, and don't beat hard as if you're trying to make meringue. You should get a medium, steady rhythm going because you could be whisking for a while. Go until the mixture holds its shape as medium-stiff peaks, as if whipped cream. Replace the ice in the bowl beneath if it melts.
  7. When the mixture is fairly stiff and cool, use either the pastry bag or a teaspoon to drop bite-size dollops onto the wax paper. They don't have to be spaced out very far as they will not expand.
  8. Cool in the refrigerator until they are set up (could take an hour or two, but you could leave them overnight at this stage)
  9. When they are set, mix the cocoa powder and powdered sugar in a quart size ziplock bag.
  10. Drop a few truffles at a time into the bag and shake gently to coat with the cocoa and sugar. Remove to a separate bowl or tupperware.
  11. When the truffles are all coated, store in fridge or freezer, sealed.

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