Chocolate Truffles Part 1 – “NO! Don’t do it!”

Uh oh. I’m half way through making like a chocolate factory, and the situation is tense. Whose idea was it to give homemade chocolates as gifts? I would never be so stupid!

unset ganache, glossy ad perfect ... if you want to ice a cakeThe kitchen has a liberal coating of dark chocolate drips. A silicone mini-muffin tray sits to the left of the chocolate-covered breadboard. I’m sitting in an aftermath. The silicone tray was the second disaster.

The first involved taking a lot of expensive ingredients and not using a recipe for some items. Oh. Dear. Cue ganache that never, ever stiffens sufficiently. More chocolate didn’t help. Turns out the method used for milk and white chocolate truffles is different from that of dark, because those two create a more runny consistency. I didn’t know that until after the ganaches didn’t set.

The silicone tray was an experiment, and didn’t work even though the little fairycake style sweety papers fitted perfectly. I put chocolate on the bottom, then ganache, then swathed it in chocolate … yeah, swathed … And now the effect is one that a five-year-old child might have left.

The idea

milk chocolate orange truffle coated in white chocolate
white chocolate orange truffle coated in dark chocolate
dark chocolate truffle coated in some kind of chocolatemilk chocolate praline coated in dark chocolate with roasted hazelnuts
dark chocolate praline coasted in dark chocolate. Or milk. Or probably a mix of the three because I’ve no idea what chocolate will be left.

I got 27 pralines out of 75 hazelnuts and 150g milk chocolate, using a half-tsp measuring spoon, and coated them in less than 100g dark chocolate. My guess is that in the morning, the second batch of dark chocolate pralines, and the dark choc truffles should go well, with a likely result of around 64 finished sweets. None of them with orange.


Homemade chocolate truffles; or, eat now or forever hold your piece

I wasn’t a fat child, although my mother always referred to me as an elephant, due to the fact that she is (and still is) the size of Tinkerbell, but as a teenager, I definitely bordered on it. One of the reasons for this is that I loved to read … almost as much as I loved to eat. And combining the two together was a no-brainer.

No longer fat, although ever vigilant, I still have a few of the same unresolved issues. Such as how hard it is to peel an orange without getting the juice all over the pages. Many of my childhood books are still splattered and stained in orange.

One item which is perfect to eat whilst reading, however, is chocolate. As long as you don’t leave it in your hand too long, there isn’t much chance of finding it between the pages 20 years later.

And so, today, I made chocolate truffles. Possibly the easiest confection to make in the existence of sweeties.

Truffles rolled in roasted, crushed  hazelnuts

Chocolate Truffles

The quantities I used here were because it was necessary to keep the numbers down as I don’t want to look like a truffle this time tomorrow. However you can upscale without any problem as the ratio of cream to chocolate is 1:1.

100g dark, best quality you can afford, orange flavoured (optional) chocolate.100ml double cream
Half a vanilla pod (optional)
2-3 tablespoons of liqueur – I used brandy – this is also optional.
A random amount of cocoa powder mixed with brown sugar – the quantities are up to you, I don’t like plain cocoa powder.

Break up the chocolate into tiny pieces and drop into the bottom of a bowl.
Pop the vanilla into the cream and bring it up to boiling BUT DO NOT BOIL.

Pour the cream onto the chocolate (remove the vanilla), and leave for about 5-10 minutes. This softens the chocolate.

Whisk the mixture until it’s thick and glossy. Let it cool for about 30 minutes. Pour in the brandy (or whatever) and whisk again until it’s incorporated.

Bung it in the fridge. After a few hours it’ll be too hard to make truffles out of, so you’ll need to leave it at room temperature for a few hours. I left mine overnight, covered with clingfilm and out of reach of the dog’s worryingly long neck.

Once at room temperature, if you’re really clever, you’ll have a melon baller, and be able to make perfect balls. If you’re me, then two teaspoons and the ability to make quenelles will do the trick just fine.

Drop each one into a small bowl with the cocoa powder mix, and ensure they’re coated.

Eat. And read. To get you started on the books, there are a couple in the right hand side panel of this page which I can guarantee are excellent reads!

Murdock’s Mocha Cake

Even without a particularly sweet tooth, sometimes you can just feel like a cake, can’t you? I love coffee flavoured sweets and cakes, but I know it’s not for everyone, (and there are people I am compelled to share cake with) so I made a coffee cake (with ground almonds), with chocolate butter icing, swizzled with runny chocolate icing and scattered liberally with toasted pumpkin seeds.

As I was making it, the mixture split at the egg stage, and the curdling remained even after I added flour, so I wasn’t expecting great things. It was a nice surprise when it came out perfectly cooked and moist.

Set oven at 180 deg C (possibly 350 deg F, dunno). Weigh three or four eggs -as close to 200g as you can get. This means removing them from their shells and weighing their liquidities.

Match their weight in butter and sugar – cream these together; mix in the eggs one at a time (don’t dump them in all together and then over mix them, trying to get the lumps out!); and finally sift in the same weight of self raising flour.

I replaced about half the flour with ground almonds and added some baking powder through sheer paranoia of it not rising, (I hate the taste of baking powder but my love for almonds overpowers that).

Coffee and nuts go together so well. Not to mention chocolate and coffee, and chocolate and nuts. I know that anyway, but Nikki Segnit of The Flavour Thesaurus says so too, so it must be true. So go on, throw about 5 teaspoons of espresso powder/granules into a small cup, mix with warm water until dissolved and add to the cake mixture.

Stick it in the oven in a tin as greased and lined as you care to do. If you do both, the paper peels away more easily. Or, put another way: if you don’t grease it, the paper takes a few chunks of cake with it. Ask me how I know.

Cake pops out of the oven 35-45 mins later; mine was a bit wobbly on top, but surprisingly it didn’t sink, and when I stuck a knife in it (I’ve lost my cake skewer), it said it was done.

The chocolate butter icing is 4oz unsalted butter, soft, and 8oz icing (confectioner’s) sugar, creamed together (stick blender time!) with 4 very heaped teaspoons of cocoa powder. It isn’t shiny like the photo seems to show.

Spread it roughly on the top – be generous, go right over the edges.

Make some ordinary runny chocolate icing – so much cocoa, so much icing sugar, and enough water to make it run. The runnier, the better. Drizzle that across the top of the butter icing in lines or swirls or whatever.

I toasted a handful of pumpkin seeds on 180 deg C for about 10 mins. I thought it would have looked nicest if I could gold leaf some of the seeds, but who does that? I was after a nutty flavour to top it with, but nuts are expensive (and have you seen the price of pine nuts?!) so toasting the seeds and sprinkling them on the top (along the sticky brown icing lines) was a smart budgetary thing to do – a cheaper alternative – and gave a strong flavour to break through all that cloying icing.

The result was a rich but not over sweet cake (made with soft brown sugar, by the way), topped by an icing so rich it’s a megalomaniac, and little green nuts.

I give you … Murdock’s Mocha Cake.

If I could change anything, I would put more cocoa in the butter icing.

Murdock's Mocha Cake

*I’ve noticed my recent cakes look a bit puddingy in the photos, but honestly, they’re not, and I would admit it if they were. This one was moist, but the texture was perfectly cakey.