February 2013 Issue

Dark Chocolate Truffles — A Decadent, but Healthful, Treat to Give Your Valentine
By Bryan Roof, RD, LDN
Today’s Dietitian
Vol. 15 No. 2 P. 74

Growing up, I can honestly say I never really loved chocolate. While I did consume my fair share by way of Count Chocula, chocolate milk, and cheap gas station candy bars, it was more of a trend of the generation and before sugar was deemed detrimental to your health. My wife and daughter, on the other hand, do love chocolate and crave it. My daughter actually can smell whether chocolate had been in a room before she arrived. In an odd genetic twist, the mere scent of chocolate nauseates my eldest son.

While my son struggles with his affliction, the rest of the family enjoys dark chocolate on a regular basis, not only for its lusciousness but for its many health benefits. Dark chocolate contains flavanols, naturally occurring antioxidants that have been shown to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease by lowering LDL cholesterol while raising HDL cholesterol levels. It decreases the incidence of hypertension and stroke, and increases insulin sensitivity. (For more information on the benefits of dark chocolate, read the article “Mining the Riches of Dark Chocolate” in our February 2012 issue.)

With age, I’ve come to appreciate the sweet, slightly bitter, creamy, and satisfying bite of dark chocolate. The basic ingredients of quality dark chocolate include cacao (the cocoa solids and butter derived from the cacao bean), sugar, and sometimes vanilla and an emulsifying agent such as lecithin. Nowadays, there are several “single-origin” chocolates on the market, which basically denote the region in which the cacao was grown. Much as connoisseurs strongly believe that terroir influences the flavor of coffee, olive oil, and wine, the same holds true for chocolate. While you can experiment with the endless varieties in your kitchen, the important thing to know is that the higher the percentage of cacao, the less sugar the chocolate contains. Most dark chocolates advertise the percentage of cacao on the wrapper, and up to 60% to 70% cacao is ideal for baking.

On Valentine’s Day, I could go out and buy my wife that box of premium chocolates in a variety of shades, with countless fillings, and in any number of shapes. But like a macaroni-bespeckled birthday card from your children, nothin’ says lovin’ like homemade truffles. I know my daughter will be only too happy to help. Now if she could only keep a secret.

 — Bryan Roof, RD, LDN, is a chef, dietitian, and food writer living in Boston. Follow him on Twitter at @bryanroof.


Chocolate Truffles

The formed truffles may be rolled in crushed nuts rather than the cocoa powder if you prefer.

Makes 16 truffles

8 oz dark chocolate (60% to 70% cacao solids), finely chopped
1/3 cup evaporated milk
1/4 tsp vanilla extract
1/8 tsp ground cinnamon
2 T unsweetened cocoa powder

1. Line a small baking sheet with parchment paper. Gently melt the chocolate in a medium bowl in the microwave or over a double-boiler. (Do not overheat the chocolate.) Using a rubber spatula, stir in the evaporated milk, vanilla extract, and cinnamon until incorporated. Spoon 16 approximately tablespoon-size dollops of the chocolate mixture onto the prepared baking sheet. Refrigerate until the chocolate is firm but pliable, about 15 minutes.

2. Place the cocoa powder in a shallow dish. Remove the chocolate from the refrigerator and roll each truffle between your hands to form a rough ball. (They don’t need to be perfect balls.) Roll the truffles in the cocoa powder to coat lightly, shaking off any excess, and transfer to a serving dish. Serve immediately or store truffles in a parchment-lined airtight container at room temperature for up to three days.

Nutrient Analysis per serving (two truffles)
Calories: 180; Total fat: 12 g; Sat fat: 7 g; Trans fat: 0 g; Cholesterol: 5 mg; Sodium: 15 mg; Total carbohydrate: 16 g; Dietary fiber: 2 g; Sugars: 11 g; Protein: 3 g