Chocolate truffles

What you need:

1/2 cup heavy whipping cream

8 oz or 1 cup chocolate chips

Cocoa powder or powdered sugar

Directions: Boil the cream. Place chocolate chips in a bowl and pour heated cream on top. Mix until chocolate is completely melted. The texture should be thicker than syrup. Pour the mixture into a brownie pan and refrigerate, covered for about 30 minutes. Use a small ice cream scoop or teaspoon to scoop out balls of the mixture and roll in powdered sugar or cocoa powder.

Source: David Lurie, president and CEO of Sun Cups

W ith Halloween creeping up, many people's homes are filled with bags of candy for costumed trick-or-treaters, but few can resist munching on the savory sweets between knocks at the door.

Instead of unwrapping the snack-sized treats, local chocolatiers recommend making more sophisticated palate-pleasers with quality ingredients.

Rich Bradfield, owner of Nova Monda Cacao & Chocolate (novachocolate.com) in Lafayette, said the beauty of chocolate is that it can be as elegant or as basic as you want it to be.

"It's easy to get creative with a little melted chocolate," Bradfield said.

If you're making your own, Nova Monda chocolate maker Nathan Miller said chocolate bars, like Hershey's, are better for melting than chocolate chips, which can clump more.


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Miller suggests finding chocolate that is 70 to 80 percent cocoa to maintain a sweet -- but not too sweet -- flavor. The remaining percent is sugar, so the lower the cocoa contents, the sweeter the candy, he said.

"You can microwave it as long as you continue stirring it," Miller said. "It can burn in the microwave, so watch it closely and don't do it for longer than about a minute."

Chocolate maker Nathan Miller prepares melted chocolate for chocolate bars at Nova Monda Chocolates in Lafayette. Miller suggests making your own
Chocolate maker Nathan Miller prepares melted chocolate for chocolate bars at Nova Monda Chocolates in Lafayette. Miller suggests making your own chocolate-y Halloween treats this year. (JESSICA CUNEO)

A better technique for melting chocolate is using a double broiler -- placing the chocolate in a pan on top of another pan full of boiling water. The heat and steam melts the chocolate without over cooking it, Miller said.

Nova Monda sells melting chocolate in a glass jar that can go directly into a pot of hot water, Bradfield said, and comes with an ice-tray type mold.

Once the chocolate is melted, the possibilities are endless.

"You can pour it into a mold and then put it in the fridge for half an hour and have little bite-sized pieces," Miller said. "You can pour it over granola, pretzels, dried fruit or anything really."

For a more adventurous snack, Miller said beef jerky compliments chocolate well in both flavor and texture.

David Lurie, president and CEO of Boulder's Sun Cups (http://suncups.com/), a company that makes nut-free, gluten-free chocolate coated cups, said quality ingredients can take the junk out of junk food.

"Just read the package before you buy it," Lurie said. "You don't have to spend the money to go to Whole Foods, just pay attention to what it says and stay away from soy," a common filler in chocolates.

Lurie also recommends melting chocolate or caramel for a sweet addition to almost anything in your kitchen cabinets.

Melted chocolate and caramel are great for dipping fruits, granola bars, rice crispy treats or adding some sweet to a bag of popcorn, he said.

"Just pop some popcorn in the microwave and then take a spook and drizzle the melted chocolate and caramel on top," Lurie said.

Chocolate can be a tricky ingredient to work with, Lurie said, but there's some good news about experimenting with the sweet stuff.

"If you mess it up, it's still chocolate," Lurie said. "Just mix it with a pot of boiling milk and you have the greatest hot chocolate of your life."


A Nova Monda chocolate bar, from Lafayette’s Nova Monda Chocolates.
A Nova Monda chocolate bar, from Lafayette's Nova Monda Chocolates. ( JESSICA CUNEO )