Twinkly Christmas lights make me happy. Very happy. Giddy, even. It feels like anything is possible and all the troubles melt away when the Christmas lights are sparkling. Life is Grand.
Life is also gran(d) when I have Gran Marnier Truffles to share. Creamy, melt-in-your-mouth chocolate with just a hint of a bright, citrusy, orange flavor. Grand little bites that make my taste buds sparkle.
(adapted from Barefoot Contessa)
1 pound semisweet chocolate (choose a good brand, chocolate chips work, but aren't the best option)
1 cup heavy cream
3 tablespoons Gran Marnier (alternatively, you could use orange extract)
1 tablespoon prepared coffee (not a coffee drinker? pick up a cup to go, or skip it. the coffee does enhance the chocolate flavor, though)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract (I shouldn't have to remind you to use REAL vanilla, right?)
cocoa powder, powdered sugar, and/or finely chopped nuts (pecans are nice)
Finely chop the chocolate.
In a double boiler with simmering water, combine the chopped chocolate and heavy cream.
Stir frequently until the chocolate is fully melted and combined with the cream.
Add the Gran Marnier, coffee, and vanilla.
Stir to combine thoroughly.
Set aside for about 2 hours at room temperature for chocolate to firm up (or pop into the fridge for a shorter period of time).
(At this point, I have been known to get distracted and forget about the truffles. The chocolate can set in the fridge for a day or so and be brought to room temperature (softened, but still holding it's shape...kind like fudge consistency) when you have time to roll the truffles.)
Prepare the coatings by pouring cocoa (I really like Ghirardelli Sweet Ground Chocolate for this.), powdered sugar, and ground nuts (use one or all) into individual shallow bowls.
Spoon small mounds of chocolate from the mix and using your hands roll into balls. (I prefer slightly smaller than walnut, but go big, if you like.)
Roll the chocolate balls into the coating of your choice to cover completely.
Store in refrigerator (will keep for weeks), but serve at room temperature for the full chocolatey-orange flavor. (makes at least 60 truffles)