Makes 3 dozen truffles
Truffles seem like a luxurious treat, but they are actually quite easy to make and infinitely customizable by varying the flavorings used to infuse the cream at the beginning or added to the ganache at the end, or both. To finish your truffles, you can dip them in melted chocolate for a hard outer shell, roll them in a coating such as chopped nuts, or simply dust them with cocoa powder, as I do here. These truffles were inspired by my favorite coffeehouse drink, Mexican Hot Chocolate. With a double dose of cinnamon and a pinch of cayenne, they mimic the warm spiciness of that delicious concoction.
Combine the cream, vanilla bean, and cinnamon stick in a small saucepan and bring just to a boil over medium-high heat. Remove the pan from the heat, cover, and allow the vanilla and cinnamon to steep in the cream for up to 1 hour.
In the meantime, finely chop the chocolate and put it in a heatproof glass bowl. Add the cinnamon, cayenne, espresso powder, and salt.
When the cream is infused to your liking, remove the cinnamon stick and the vanilla bean and bring the cream back up to a simmer over medium heat.
Pour the warm cream over the chocolate and stir until completely smooth. (If the cream was not warm enough to melt the chocolate, microwave it in 10-second bursts until the chocolate is completely melted.) Stir in the butter. Cover the bowl and refrigerate until the mixture is firm, about 2 hours.
Cover two baking sheets with parchment paper.
Using a melon baller or two teaspoons, scoop spoonfuls of ganache onto the baking sheets. You should be able to get at least 3 dozen. (If the ganache is too firm to scoop, allow it to come to room temperature and try again.) Use your hands to roll the scoops of ganache into smooth balls. Dust the truffles with a light coating of cocoa powder.
Store the truffles in the refrigerator until ready to serve or swap.
Using Espresso Powder
Espresso powder is made of coffee crystals that dissolve quickly in liquid and is different from regular instant coffee. When used in small quantities, espresso powder enhances the flavor of chocolate without adding a coffee taste. If you do not have espresso powder, feel free to omit it.
You can package the truffles by the dozen in a cellophane bag, or for a fancier presentation, place each truffle in an individual paper or foil candy cup in a pretty box.