There’s a slow breeze drifting through the door. It’s cool, not cold, and heady with the sweetness of grass, fresh rain and sprouted freesias. Outside, the sky is inky black, peppered with glowing streetlights and shadows of cloud. Today is the third day of the second month of Australian Spring: October 3rd, 2012. And despite being a working day, it has started well.
Yes, started. It’s 12.15am to be exact. I’m mostly awake out of stubbornness, fingers primed for a flow of words despite the intoxicating pull of sleep. I chew absentmindedly on a stick of apple-green gum, thinking. It’s been an awfully long time between posts. Twenty two days to be exact. That’s enough time for a hamster to give birth to a litter of young and get impregnated with the next… darn productive creatures.
As for me? Well, I’ve worked for fourteen days, discounting a public holiday. I’ve eaten one box of Cruskits, drunk about two litres of milk, made some cherry almond rocky road (one of my very favourite chocolate treats… I’ll share the recipe sometime), completed about sixteen home aged care assessments and fallen asleep by candlelight. Oh, and I turned twenty nine. At 10.32pm, whilst sitting with my two favourite people in a tiny restaurant called Blackbird on Claisebrook lake.
Yep, twenty nine. One year older than the average age of retirement for an NFL player… sad huh? Comment of the week: “Ah, you’re still under thirty… that means you’re still young!”. Young? Yeah, I guess… probably in the same way that Olivia Newton John still looked ‘young’ as a thirty year old teenager in Grease. Delightful, in a wrinkled kind of way.
Anyway, moving on. The main reason that I’m writing this post is to share with you the ‘recipe’ (or rather, my notes) for creating hazelnut centred, rum infused 70% cocoa truffles, drenched in smooth chocolate and crunchy praline. If you’re a regular reader of this blog, you may remember that right at the end of my recipe post for Chocolate Truffle Cake, I mentioned that any leftovers could be easily transformed into dense praline truffles in no time. This supplementary post explains my method on how to do just that.
As you read my notes below, you’ll realise that there’s a sad absence of step-by-step photography. That’s primarily due to the fact that these truffles were made on the run, in preparation for a dinner at a friend’s house. I plan to embellish on this post one day, but in the meantime I’d encourage you to check out my beautiful friend Talitha Sprigg’s Oreo Truffle tutorial via High Tea & Trinkets. It contains step-by-step photography on how to shape, chill and decorate your truffles with minimal fuss for a shiny, uniform finish. As with my notes, her recipe takes kindly to any variations you fancy… so feel free to experiment until you create your own version of chocolatey perfection.
Hazelnut Praline Truffles
Makes about 20
- 2 medium slices of room temperature ganache-iced Chocolate Truffle Cake* (or other chocolate mud cake, preferably ganache-iced)
- A splash of good-quality rum
- 1 quantity of hazelnut praline, crushed*
- 20 toasted, peeled hazelnuts*
- 1 block (about 200g) of 70% cocoa good quality dark chocolate (not cooking chocolate)
*recipes and tutorials can be found in my Chocolate Truffle Cake post.
Crumble your cake into a bowl, then add in a generous splash of rum. Work the mixture together with a spatula until it becomes smooth, glossy and melds to itself. Set aside briefly.
Divide your mixture into about 20 pieces (or less, if you prefer bigger truffles). Flatten each piece into a disc, then place a hazelnut in the centre. Fold the mixture around your hazelnut, pinching the edges together. Roll the finished ball, with the enclosed hazelnut, in the palms of your hands until it becomes round and smooth. Place onto a tray lined with baking paper, then repeat with your remaining nuts and mixture.
Place your finished balls into the fridge for about half an hour to firm up (if you’re pressed for time, use the freezer). In the meantime, cut your block of chocolate into pieces and place them into a glass bowl over a double boiler to melt. When the mixture is almost smooth, turn off the heat and leave your bowl to stand over the hot water until you’re ready to coat your truffles.
To decorate: Remove your chilled truffles from the fridge or freezer. Gently drop one ball at a time into the melted chocolate, turning it to coat evenly. Lift it out from the chocolate using a fork and spoon, one on each side, suspending the truffle over the bowl briefly so that any excess chocolate drips away. Gently place your coated truffle back onto the paper-lined baking tray, taking care not to mark the sides of the truffle with your fork.
Leave for a few seconds, until the surface of the chocolate clouds slightly (indication that the chocolate is setting). Sprinkle over a pinch of crushed hazelnut praline before the chocolate sets (gently press onto the surface with your fingers if required). Repeat with your remaining balls and chocolate.
Leave your truffles to set at room temperature, then store them in an airtight container. If desired, they can be refrigerated, however be aware that this increases the risk of ‘chocolate bloom’ (separation of sugar and fat from the cocoa solids, which results in the formation of a powdery white substance on the surface of your chocolate. This is usually caused by exposure of the chocolate to moisture and sudden temperature changes).
- There are thousands of truffle recipes on the internet, most of which use a pure ganache as the truffle filling. I prefer using dense, flourless cake mixed with a little melted ganache and alcohol as the result is a dense, rich truffle that’s slightly less cloying (it’s a little like a cross between a cake pop and a truffle). The hazelnut meal in the Chocolate Truffle Cake also adds a delicious savoury note and a little extra nutrition (clutching at straws, I know!).
- This recipe lends itself well to adaptations. Try adding some diced glace ginger into the mixture, some freshly chopped or dried mint leaves, peppermint essence, spices (cinnamon and cardamom, possibly with some dried chilli) or different nuts. Almonds work especially well with a complimentary splash of Amaretto in place of rum.
- If you can’t be bothered with the melted chocolate, just roll your truffles in coconut, crushed pistachios or organic cocoa powder. Beautiful and deliciously easy (though in regards to the latter, don’t inhale whilst eating them… trust me).
- You can pretty much use any chocolate in the process of making the Chocolate Truffle Cake… same goes for coating your truffles. White chocolate made with pure cocoa butter works well as an offset to a dark, bittersweet centre. I’d just recommend that you don’t buy compound or cooking chocolate of any type. Not only can you taste the difference, but there’s also a subtle textural variation due to the added vegetable fat and sweetener. When melted, this can produce a grainy consistency.
- Your finished truffle balls can be frozen, uncoated, for up to one month. Just shape and freeze them in a single layer on a baking tray, then when they’re no longer sticky to touch, place them in an airtight container or snap-lock bag to freeze until ready for use.
- This is a great way to use up any leftover cake sitting in your fridge. Lemon cake works especially well with some melted white chocolate and a splash of limoncello in the mixing stage. Before serving, coat the balls in pure white chocolate, then decorate with some candied lemon rind. Easy.
P.S. I finished this post at 7.52am. Yes, I did sleep and eat a bowl of Mini-Wheats in between.