Chestnut Chocolate Truffles

6 ounces bittersweet or semi-sweet chocolate
1 16-ounce can whole chestnuts, or 1-1/4 pound fresh
6 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup sugar
2-1/2 tablespoons brandy or other liqueur
1 teaspoon vanilla

For the coating:
14 ounces semi-sweet chocolate
1 to 1-1/2 cups pure cocoa powder (optional)

To prepare centers, melt chocolate in a double boiler and allow to cool. If using fresh chestnuts, cut a cross on the flat side of each shell, put in a large pan, cover with cold water, and boil for 5 minutes. Remove the shells and inner skins. Rice the chestnuts. Cream the butter and sugar together until fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add chestnuts and flavorings to the butter/sugar mixture and blend well, then stir in the cooled chocolate. Mix well. Roll into balls 1-1/2 inches in diameter; if mixture becomes too soft to shape, chill for several minutes.
To coat, melt the chocolate on a plate over boiling water; let cool. Carefully roll the truffles in melted chocolate, then place on waxed paper; allow to dry for several minutes. Place each truffle in paper candy cup. Store in refrigerator.
Yield: 5 dozen truffles

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