Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Orange Basil Chocolate Truffles

Plate of Truffles Garnished with Basil Leaves
Orange Basil Chocolate Truffles

Recipe by Robin

Three years ago today I was married after an 11-year courtship. But something even more amazing happened that day. Kelly, my maid of honor, brought 250 truffles that she had made herself to the wedding. Her husband James assembled the commemorative boxes and they packed up one raspberry and one coffee truffle for each guest. She offered to make them along with her other maid of honor tasks like organizing the shower, shopping for dresses, finding cheap flower source, giving the toast, and being my go-to person for staying somewhat sane while planning all the details.

Not only did Kelly make 250 truffles in two flavors, she also hand-dipped them all in chocolate. Because this is my first foray into truffle making, I’ve finished them by rolling in cocoa, which is simplest and fastest. In future posts I’ll be experimenting with dipped truffles, and maybe truffles rolled in roasted nuts.

Chocolate, Basil, Orange, Organic Cream, Butter
Quality Ingredients Make Quality Truffles
The quality of your ingredients dictates the quality of your truffles. The main ingredient is of course chocolate, so use a chocolate that is 70% or more cocoa. I like Guittard chocolate, but there are many good brands. I designed this recipe for a 12 oz. bag of chocolate chips, but you could substitute a chopped up chocolate bar. Use cocoa powder that is not alkali (or Dutch) processed, like good old-fashioned Hershey’s. Also make sure that your basil is as fresh and fragrant.

Fingers Scooping Chocolate off Melon Baller
Rolling the Truffle, Part 1
Because I’ve read that basil is the love herb, I wanted to use it in my anniversary truffles. The basil flavor is subtle, so I crushed the leaves to release their essence, before steeping them in the hot cream. Next time I’ll cut the basil leaves up, and maybe use a few more to increase the basil flavor. (Kelly can testify that the basil taste is quite subtle.) Credit for the basil idea goes to Debbie from Live Earth Farm, who posted a recipe from for cocoanut milk truffles.

Fingers Rolling Truffle on Palm
Rolling the Truffle, Part 2
It takes considerable muscle to beat the chocolate into the heated cream. High quality chocolate can have a high melting point. For me, the chocolate stopped melting, so I microwaved the mixture for 10 seconds and then beat it again, similar to melting chocolate for dipped strawberries. I did this three times, for a total of 30 seconds, but in my truffle research I’ve never seen anyone recommend it, so be very careful if you do this. Microwave for a few seconds, then beat the chocolate like crazy. Cutting the butter up into pieces made it easier to incorporate into the mixture. You don’t want to be microwaving once you add the butter.

Fingers Rolling Truffle in Cocoa
Rolling the Truffle, Part 3
Truffles made with higher-melting-temperature chocolate are challenging to mix, but they’re easier to roll into balls. Still, this is a messy process, and you can expect to have chocolate-y hands. Keep a bowl of water nearby and moisten your fingers and palms before rolling, as water resists the oils in the truffle mix (slightly). It also helps to keep a damp cloth nearby to wipe off occasionally. Debbie suggests rubbing your hands with ice cubes if the chocolate melts too much while rolling.

Happy Anniversary to my sweetie Bruce, and thanks again to Kelly for helping me with truffle advice while I was developing this recipe.

Rows of Wedding Truffle Boxes
Some of Kelly's Truffles
Orange Basil Chocolate Truffles
Makes 2 ½ - 3 dozen, depending on size

12 oz high quality chocolate
1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
1/4 C packed chopped basil leaves (or more)
3 tbsp. unsalted butter, cut up into pieces
1 tsp. grated orange zest
1/4 cup powdered cocoa

Put chocolate chips or chopped chocolate into heatproof bowl.

Put cream and basil in small heavy saucepan. Bring to boil over high heat, stirring constantly and pressing the basil so it becomes limp and releases its flavor. Remove from heat, cover, and let steep 30 minutes or more.

Strain cream into a measuring cup with a tea strainer, pressing cream out of leaves. Check to see that you have at least ½ cup of cream, if not, top up to ½ cup. Reheat cream to the boiling point over medium heat. Pour over the chopped chocolate. Stir vigorously for several minutes until the mixture becomes satiny and glossy.

If chocolate stops melting despite your vigorous stirring, you can microwave it for 10 seconds, then stir vigorously again. Repeat if necessary, but don’t overheat.

Add butter and orange zest, stir till smooth.

Scrape down bowl so chocolate is in a glob, ready to be scooped into truffles when cool.

Put in refrigerator 30 – 60 minutes, until firm enough to hold shape when you scoop it out. Meanwhile, sift the cocoa onto a plate in a uniform layer.

Use a melon baller or small round spoon to scoop out uniform size chocolate blobs. Moisten your hands with water. After scooping out a blob of the chocolate mixture, transfer the blob to your hands. Roll into a ball using palm and fingertips. Then roll in cocoa powder on plate. Transfer to waxed paper on cookie sheet. Place in refrigerator for an hour or so, until firm.


  1. Thanks for sharing your amazing truffles on this very special 3rd anniversary day, Robin. YUM! And congratulations!
    Love, Paula

  2. Glad you enjoyed them, Paula. I thought it would be a fun treat to share with coworkers!

  3. Aww, what a great story! Did I really make 250 truffles? That sounds impressive. But these orange basil truffles are so good, and how fun that basil is the love herb! Did you know there's a term of endearment in Spanish that involves the orange? Just tell Bruce, "You're my media naranja!" (Literally, it means my half-orange; but it's like my other half, or my partner.)

  4. Kelly, I remembered when you offered to make truffles and said "Do you really want to make 250 truffles? You don't have to." And you said something like "Once I get into the rhythm of it, making 250 is as easy as making a few dozen." I was trying to channel your truffle rhythm as I was making these...