In the kitchen: Chocolate Truffles

Remember when you were a teenager and hearing the words “cheap” and “easy” uttered in the same breath made you blush, giggle uncontrollably, and clutch your imaginary pearls?

As a grown foodie, do the words “cheap” and “easy” make you feel the same way?

I love “doing it” the hard way and all the praise that “comes” (henh.) along with a dish made from scratch with schmancy ingredients, but sometimes I’d rather save some cash, and time. No one I know really cares if the salad is topped with Cashel blue from a block or it’s store brand blue from a cup of crumbles, as long as it’s delicious.
I finally stopped clutching my pearls and watched an episode of Sandra Lee’s Semi-homemade recently. I gotta admit- she’s got something there. Not only is her mode of cookery simple, but cost-effective- great if you’re suffering from holiday stress or on a budget (which most of us are these days). So I’m embracing the “cheap” and “easy”- and if that’s wrong, I don’t wanna be right.
Cheap ‘n’ Easy Truffles
(a recipe adapted from the nice folks at Nestle)
Yield: 3 dozen truffles
1/2 cup evaporated milk
1/4 cup fine granulated sugar*
12 oz chocolate chips
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  1. In a small, heavy saucepan combined the milk and sugar.
  2. Bring the mixture to a full roiling boil over medium heat, stirring constantly.
  3. Boil for three minutes, until the sugar has fully dissolved, then remove from heat.
  4. Stir in chocolate chips until smooth, then add vanilla. Refrigerate for 1 to 1.5 hours.
  5. Shape into balls of about 1 inch. Store refrigerated truffles in an airtight container.
* The fine granulated dissolves quickly and thoroughly in this recipe, meaning a smoother texture to the truffle. If fine granulated isn’t available on MAJOR sale at your local grocery, give the regular stuff a spin in your food processor. Also, using store brand ingredients produces a comparably delicious piece of candy.
Note: Getting fancy with this recipe is so SO easy. I added 1/2 cup each of chopped, toasted coconut and sliced almonds: Half of that went into the chocolate mixture, along with a tsp of Kirsch (and almond extract rather than vanilla), before refrigerating. I rolled the truffles in the remainder of the coconut and almonds after shaping.
Try a tsp (or two) of Grand Marnier or some other orange liqueur. If you have some citrus fruit around, add some orange zest as well (for an easy dessert, serve your truffles with fresh clementines). Or try rum and coconut. Maybe a bit of Bailey’s. Dried cherries, anyone?
I think these would make great gifts, a nice nibble for your office, and a fun thing to bring to a girl’s night or potluck- a little something sweet for not a lot of cash.

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