Despite what you see in stores, the true chocolate truffle is not a fancy-schmancy bonbon. The classic French confections are nothing more than irregular mounds of ganache—a mixture of chocolate and cream—that when coated with unsweetened cocoa, look remarkably like their exorbitantly expensive namesake fungi, freshly dug up from the earth.
When I need a quick homemade food gift, I go straight to the chocolate truffles Robert Linxe, founder of Maison du Chocolat, showed me how to make. Finely chop 8 ounces of Valrhona 56% cacao semisweet chocolate and put it in a metal bowl. Bring 2/3 cup heavy cream to a simmer, and pour it over the chocolate. Let it stand 1 minute, then stir slowly until the ganache is smooth. Cool it at cool room temperature, stirring occasionally, until thickened, but still squirtable.
Put the ganache in a disposable pastry bag or even a ziplock bag, and cut an opening about 1/4- to 3/8-inch wide. Pipe 1-inch wide mounds, about 3/4-inch high, on a wax paper-lined baking sheet. Freeze the squirts until they are firm. Meanwhile, melt 3 more ounces of the same chocolate.
Now it’s time to put on the gloves. Plastic, that is. Smear one gloved-hand with melted chocolate, then rub it around a frozen truffle to coat it in a thin layer, before dredging it in unsweetened cocoa. Finally, shake the coated truffles in a sieve to eliminate excess cocoa, and keep them cold until you pass them around. They might not look pretty, but they’re sublime to eat.