In an eighteenth-century apartment in Versailles, Dallasite Molly Wilkinson makes chocolate truffles, a dessert reminiscent of her time at Le Cordon Bleu. The bubbly young pastry chef may be five thousand miles from her hometown, but she keeps the taste of Texas alive through her confident interpretations of classic French recipes. “A lot of people say my desserts are a mix of France and the United States,” she says via Zoom.
Take her One-Bite Texas Sheet Cake Truffles, which combine famous treats from both of her homes. While Wilkinson was recipe testing for her cookbook, French Pastry Made Simple: Foolproof Recipes for Éclairs, Tarts, Macarons and More (Page Street Publishing), due out June 8, her mother shipped pecans from Telephone, a tiny town on the Texas-Oklahoma border, to Versailles. The result is a rich, chocolatey, melt-in-your-mouth take on one of the author’s favorite desserts. “My favorite [truffle] variation is to stir pecans and a dash of cinnamon into the chocolate ganache base,” Wilkinson says. “If you cover it in melted chocolate, it reminds me of Texas sheet cake.”
Wilkinson’s passion for pastry and her contagious joie de vivre are on full display in her popular in-person and virtual cooking classes, which she leads from Versailles. Her goal is to make French pastry items like profiteroles, mousse, and mille-feuilles accessible to home cooks, and over the years she’s attracted clientele from across the United States, in addition to Panama, Italy, Brazil, and France. “A lot of Texas folks join, which is really fun,” she adds. “It gives me a sense of home . . . I don’t think you ever fully leave Texas, no matter how far away you might move.”
Her debut cookbook distills those classes into eleven chapters, ten of which begin with a core French pastry recipe. “A lot of French desserts are constructed out of very similar base recipes,” she says, like choux pastry, which is used for éclairs, cream puffs, and chouquettes, or simple puff pastry, a core component of tarte tatin, galette des rois, and St. Honoré. Her aim in the book was to make it “super clear how to make these base recipes, and from that you can learn how to make all sorts of other creations.”
Chapter 4 explores chocolate ganache, with six ways to create chocolate truffles. Wilkinson’s recipe for One-Bite Texas Sheet Cake Truffles, below, is adapted for Texas Monthly from the base truffle recipe in the book.
One-Bite Texas Sheet Cake Truffles
12 ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate (60 to 70 percent), roughly chopped, divided
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, cubed, at room temperature
¾ cup heavy cream
¼ cup finely chopped pecans
¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
To make the ganache:
- Melt 8 ounces of chocolate with the butter, either in the microwave or by placing it in a bowl over a steaming pot of water to create a double boiler.
- Heat the cream in a saucepan or in the microwave until it just starts to simmer. Pour the cream into the chocolate, and whisk to combine. Stir in the chopped pecans and cinnamon.
- Cover the ganache with plastic wrap, making sure to pat down the wrap onto the surface of the chocolate, to prevent condensation. Chill for 1 to 2 hours (or overnight), until firm but pliable.
- Check the texture by scooping some of the chocolate. If it is easy to scoop and holding its shape, it’s at a good temperature. (The amount of time needed to chill entirely depends on your fridge and the size of your container.) If the chocolate is so hard that it breaks into big pieces as you scoop it, let it warm up at room temperature for about 15 minutes.
To form the truffles:
- Making truffles is a sticky business. To keep the warmth of your hands from melting the chocolate, use a small scoop the size of the truffle you want to create. Or, for a nice round truffle, scoop the ganache with a scoop or a spoon and roll it between your fingertips. It will be messy!
- Chill 15 minutes while you melt the remaining 4 ounces of chocolate in a small bowl. Allow the chocolate to cool to room temperature, then, using a fork, dip the truffles to coat.
- Transfer to a parchment-lined baking sheet and let set in the fridge for 30 minutes.
Storage: The truffles will last for about 3 days stored in an airtight container in the fridge. Take out at least 15 minutes before serving, to allow the chill to dissipate and the texture to become nice and soft. Freeze for up to 1 month.