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Fran Bigelow is a North American Grand Dame of fine chocolate, after opening her first shop in 1982. She has several upscale chocolate shops in Seattle and a thriving online chocolate business. In this easy recipe, she gives you the choice of using tempered chocolate or not. Either option makes for a delicious treat.
Fran Bigelow | Pure Chocolate: Divine Desserts and Sweets | Broadway Books, 2004
“These elegant milk-chocolate spheres have it all: a creamy milk-chocolate center, a crisp dark chocolate shell, a crunchy coating of toasted nuts. They are a wonderful choice for the beginning candy maker. Milk chocolate is much easier to work with than dark chocolate, almost everyone loves it, and you have the added bonus of toasted almonds covering any imperfections in the dipping. (Let's not forget that milk chocolate and almonds are one of the classic childhood candy bars.) Boules have the highest success rate of all the candies in my holiday classes. Make sure to scoop small enough centers since the little balls keep growing as they take on their coatings.” – Fran Bigelow
Yield: 60 to 70 pieces
1 cup heavy cream
1 lb. milk chocolate (preferably 36-46% cacao), finely chopped
1 recipe tempered semi-sweet chocolate (see instructions (optional)
3 cups whole almonds, toasted and finely chopped
Have ready two 9-by-13 inch or quarter-sheet pans or 1 half-sheet pan lined with parchment.
In a saucepan, heat the cream over medium-high heat just until it begins to boil. Remove from the heat. Add the finely chopped milk chocolate. Using a rubber spatula, stir until smooth.
Pour the mixture into a bowl. Cover with plastic wrap touching the top and let set at room temperature for 6 to 8 hours, until firm enough to scoop or pipe.
When the ganache is set, gently stir a few times with a rubber spatula. Spoon into a pastry bag fitted with ½-inch round tip. Pipe round balls, about 3/4 inch in diameter, onto a parchment-lined pan. (You can also use a melon baller or small scoop to form the centers.) Let set at room temperature until firm to the touch, about 2 hours.
Then gently roll the balls in the palms of your hands to round out their shape. (If you choose not to dip in tempered chocolate, roll in chopped almonds to coat.) Place balls back on the parchment-lined pan. Let set until firm to the touch, about 2 hours.
When ready to dip, spread the chopped almonds on a sheet pan.
Dip each chocolate ball in tempered chocolate to coat evenly, shaking off the excess. Then immediately drop each chocolate in the nuts. Wait 5 to 10 seconds, then roll to completely cover. Let set 2 to 3 minutes, transfer to a parchment-lined sheet, and let set completely.
Stored between 60° and 68°F, the chocolates can be kept up to two weeks.
Pure Chocolate © 2004 Fran Bigelow. Photo © Broadway Books. All rights reserved.