Chop the chocolate and tip into a large bowl. Put the cream and butter into a saucepan and heat gently until the butter melts and the cream reaches simmering point. Remove from heat, then pour over the chocolate. Stir the chocolate and cream together until you have a smooth mixture. Add any flavourings to the truffle mix at this stage (divide the mixture between bowls and mix in liqueurs or other flavourings, a tsp at a time, to taste. Try bourbon, Grand Marnier, coconut rum or the zest and juice of an orange), or leave plain. Cool and chill for at least 4 hrs.
To shape the truffles, dip a melon baller in hot water and scoop up balls of the mixture, then drop the truffles onto greaseproof paper. Or lightly coat your hands in flavourless oil (such as sunflower) and roll the truffles between your palms. You could also use a piping bag to pipe rounds onto greaseproof paper.
Coat your truffles immediately after shaping. Tip toppings into a bowl and gently roll the truffles until evenly coated, then chill on greaseproof paper. Try: crushed, shelled pistachio nuts; lightly toasted desiccated coconut; or roll a truffle flavoured with orange zest and juice in cocoa powder. To coat in chocolate, line a baking tray with greaseproof paper. Melt 100g milk, dark or white chocolate for 10 truffles. Allow chocolate to cool slightly. With a fork, pick up one truffle at a time and hold over the bowl of melted chocolate. Spoon the chocolate over the truffle until well-coated. Place on the baking tray, then chill.
Store in the fridge in an airtight container for 3 days, or freeze for up to a month. Defrost in the fridge overnight. To give as presents, place 8-10 truffles in individual foil or paper cases inside small, lined boxes tied with ribbon. Keep in the fridge until you’re ready to give them.
Keep your coolIt will be much easier to roll or shape your truffles if your hands, and the kitchen you're working in are both at a cool temperature. If you find it's really hot or that the the truffle mix is becoming overly soft and difficult to work with try piping the mixture instead.
Cooking creamDon't overheat the cream, if it's boiling when you pour it onto the chocolate it could make the mixture seize and become grainy.
Add to tasteWhen you're adding the flavourings do taste it as you go and add more until you're happy - adding just a teaspoon at a time of fruit juices or liqueurs or a drop at a time if you're using stronger flavours like peppermint extract.
DecorationIf you're rolling the truffles in chopped nuts, cocoa, desiccated coconut or other dry ingredients do so immediately after shaping so that they are sticky enough to pick up the coating. However, I would chill my truffles briefly in the fridge after shaping before coating in melted chocolate.
Choosing your chocolateThe type of chocolate you select will directly effect how sweet or bitter the final result is. A chocolate with a very high cocoa solids percentage will create a bitter, dark chocolate truffle.