Thursday, December 17, 2015

Evolution of the truffle

At this time of year I often make truffles. Something luscious, vegan and packed full of kilojoules is the perfect way to celebrate the solstice.

Over the years the truffles have evolved from a coconut cream based chocolate ball, to an infused coconut oil one. 

The problem with truffles is they’re often frustrating and time consuming to make. The mix needs to be firm but not so cold it shatters, nor so warm it melts just looking at it. Let’s face it – late at night on the solstice eve, constantly walking between the workbench and fridge to rechill the mix between every half dozen truffles gets a tad tiresome. In humid December weather, sitting in a tepid bath with an icy drink (and smouldering companion) would be way more fun.

A couple of months ago I promised to take a sweet to a friends place for dinner. I dithered. I dathered. Until finally I only had a couple of hours to concoct something. The ‘something’ became a cubed version of truffles, simple cut into mouth-sized bites. 

If time permits you can still go down the sensory truffle path and infuse the oil with orange peel, spices or something else equally delicious (chilli anyone?). But the version I ended up creating with walnuts and liqueur worked fine. Lets put it this way; there were no complaints or leftovers.

Because how I conceptualised this recipe and what actually went into it are slightly different - I'm giving two different ingredients lists. I know some of you actually like qualities and others (like me) have a 'look and adapt' approach. Lets keep everyone happy!

The truffle that became a square

Freeform ingredients list

Base
2 parts good quality chocolate
1 part coconut oil (plain or infused)
Pinch of sea salt

Texture and flavour
A handful of walnuts, broken into smallish pieces - and/or nut paste
A generous handful of something fruity with an edge e.g. dried cherries, freeze dried raspberries or orange zest
OR a couple of tsp of a good quality liqueur such as Grand Marnier or Frangelico if you want to extend the nut thing use hazel instead of walnuts. (Note: too much grog might stop it from setting)

A quantified list of ingredients

200 gm 80% good quality chocolate
100 gm coconut oil
100 gm almond butter (make sure it's pure, check the ingredients especially if its a big brand)
3/4 cup walnuts, roughly chopped
1 tsp vanilla extract
3 tsp Grand Marnier


Method

If you’re going to infuse the coconut oil, start this a day or two before. Otherwise the chocolate slice takes a few minutes to put together, plus another hour to chill.

Assemble your ingredients and find an appropriate tin or container. Ideally use a square or rectangular baking tin (nothing with sloping sides or alas, you’ll just have to eat all the trimmings!)  Aim for a size appropriate to the mass of ingredients so that the chocolate concoction comes up to about 3-5 cm high (depending on how small our large you want your squares). Metal is ideal, you don’t need to grease, though you can line with baking paper if desired.

Blitz or chop the chocolate so they’re in even sized pieces. In a double boiler gently heat until half the chocolate is melted.

If your coconut oil is solid, melt over a low heat – it takes a very short time so don’t take your eye off it. I usually let it half melt then turn the heat off.

Combine the chocolate, nut paste (optional) and oil (hopefully they’re still semi solid rather than a liquid but it still works, though the nuts or fruit might drop to the bottom). Mix through the nuts, fruit and/or flavouring of choice.

Refrigerate for about an hour until fully solid (use the freezer if in a hurry). It's a good idea to allow it to come up to room temperature before cutting, to avoid snaps and shards. If necessary, run a warm knife around the edges and cut into bite-sized cubes. Of course if you painstakingly lined the tin, you just have to pull the slab out and cut.

You can pretty up the cubes of chocolatey goodness with a sprinkling of cocoa, icing sugar or rose petals but really, these taste so good they don’t need they don’t need it.




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