CHOCOLATE TRUFFLES

``People ask me if they can use light cream with this recipe,'' says chocolatier Cynthia Salvato, ``and I say `What for?''' She adds: ``With kids, this would be a blast.''

GANACHE:

2 cups heavy cream

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1/4 pound butter

2 pounds bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, chopped

Optional: toasted ground nuts, praline paste (about 1/2 cup), peanut butter (about 1/2 cup), grated orange zest (about 1 orange)

In a heavy saucepan, bring to boil heavy cream and butter. As soon as mixture boils, remove it from heat and whisk in chopped chocolate. Continue to whisk until mixture is smooth. (If you are using white chocolate or milk chocolate, add an additional 4 oz.) Add any optional ingredients at this time.

Transfer ganache to a bowl, cover with platic wrap, and set it in a cool place overnight - the refrigerator is fine. Take it out of the refrigerator an hour before you plan to roll the truffles.

FOR ROLLING

Ganache, set overnight

Small, shallow bowls of cocoa powder (some chefs add powdered cinnamon), confectioner's sugar (optional), or finely grated chocolate (optional)

Take a hunk of ``set'' ganache and roll it into a walnut-sized ball with your palms. (Be prepared to get chocolate-coated palms: Rolling the chocolate makes it melt a little.) Repeat until ganache is used up. Then roll each ball delicately in cocoa, sugar, or grated chocolate. You can store truffles for up to three weeks in an airtight container in the refrigerator. For best flavor, take them out two hours before serving.

Makes about three dozen truffles.

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