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Although the enthusiasm for some sweet dishes has waxed and waned over the centuries, the desire for chocolate has only strengthened since the eighteenth century. In American homes and confectioners' shops of the mid- to late 1700s, chocolate was most often served as a hot, creamy beverage, sometimes flavored with spices in the South American fashion. It appears, however, that many forms of chocolate were available in the cosmopolitan center that was late-eighteenth-century Philadelphia. Confectioners and chocolatiers opened shops throughout the city, meeting the demands of a stylish public that had grown so fond of this ancient sweet. Surely, chocolate truffles similar to the following version satisfied the cravings of numerous Philadelphians.

Makes 2 dozen truffles

Ingredients
  1. 24 ounces bitter-sweet (not unsweetened) chocolate, chopped
  2. 4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, cut into pieces
  3. 1/4 cup heavy cream
  4. 1 tablespoon instant espresso powder, dissolved in 1 tablespoon boiling water
  5. 2 tablespoons sambuca or other flavored liqueur
  6. 1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder, for coating
Directions
  1. In a double boiler or in a metal bowl set over a saucepan of barely simmering water, melt 12 ounces of the chocolate and the butter with the cream and espresso, stirring until smooth.
  2. Remove the top of the double boiler or the bowl from the heat, and stir in the liqueur.
  3. Cool the mixture, and chill, covered, for at least 3 hours, or until firm.
  4. To temper the remaining 12 ounces of chocolate, place 8 ounces of the chocolate in a metal bowl set over a pan of barely simmering water. Melt the chocolate slowly, stirring often. Heat the melted chocolate, stirring slowly and constantly, until it reaches a temperature of 115°P on a candy thermometer.
  5. Remove the bowl from the heat, and add the remaining 4 ounces of chocolate,
  6. stirring constantly, until the chocolate has melted and it cools to 80°F. Return the bowl of chocolate to the pan of simmering water, and heat until it reaches a temperature of
  7. 89°F. Remove from the heat.
  8. Remove the chilled chocolate mixture from the refrigerator. With a small ice cream scoop or tablespoon, scoop out walnut-sized portions. Roll each portion into a round ball.
  9. Place the cocoa powder on a large plate.
  10. Pour about 1 tablespoon of the cooled melted chocolate in your hand. Take one of the walnut-sized portions of chilled chocolate and roll it in your hand to thoroughly coat it in the melted chocolate.
  11. Drop the truffles in the cocoa powder and coat, shaking off any excess. Set on a parchment-lined baking pan and let stand in a cool place. Repeat the process until all of the chilled chocolate has been used. (You may have some tempered chocolate left over. It can be stored in the refrigerator, tightly covered, for up to 2 weeks. You can drizzle it on serving plates for another dessert or use it as a topping for ice cream.)

Store the truffles in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.

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