Use a serrated knife to chop the chocolate into small pieces. Put the chocolate in a heat-proof bowl and set aside.
Warm the cream in a heavy-bottomed saucepan to just simmering (small bubbles...NOT boiling).
Add the butter to the chocolate and pour the heavy cream evenly on top. Cover and let sit for about 2 to 3 minutes, then start stirring. At first it will look grainy, but keep stirring until the mixture is smooth. Add the vanilla and stir again.
Pour the ganache into a shallow dish such as an 8- x 8-inch baking pan or a 9-inch pie pan. Place a piece of plastic wrap directly on the surface to avoid condensation. Refrigerate for 1 to 2 hours.
Pour the topping into a small bowl. Working with a few at a time, roll each ball into the toppings. If you're going to dip the truffles in melted chocolate, be sure to temper the chocolate first.
Place the truffles in an airtight container. Store at room temperature for 3 to 4 days or in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.
Truffles taste best at room temperature. Serve and enjoy!
Use pure chocolate…the higher quality chocolate you purchase, the better your truffles will taste. Don't use chocolate chips.Semi-sweet or dark chocolate make a very intense chocolate truffle and milk chocolate yields a sweeter truffle. I wouldn't recommend using white chocolate in this recipe because it's too thin.Use a serrated (bread) knife to chop the chocolate. The edges help cut through to make smaller pieces better than a regular chef's knife.Heavy cream (or heavy whipping cream) is the only liquid that will melt the chocolate into the proper truffle consistency. Don't use half-and-half or milk. The only non-dairy substitute is canned full-fat coconut milk (not the refrigerated kind). Shake it up and use in the recipe as you would heavy cream.Instead of vanilla extract, substitute other extracts like mint, raspberry or Fiori di Sicilia (vanilla orange), or add a 1 to 2 tablespoons of bourbon, whisky, rum, or Kahlua for a boozy kick. Note that if you are using peppermint extract, don't add too much or the flavor can start to turn bitter.Recipe can easily be halved, but rather than doubling the recipe, make 2 separate batches.For longer storage, freeze up to 3 months with or without toppings. Thaw in the refrigerator, then bring to room temperature before enjoying.To make the truffles ahead, prepare the truffle filling through step 4. The mixture must chill in the refrigerator for 1 to 2 hours or up to 3 days. If chilling for longer than 4 hours, let the mixture sit on the counter for several minutes to soften before scooping. You can also store the truffle balls without the toppings in the freezer. Allow them to soften before topping them.