Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Melt-in-the-middle chocolate truffles

What could be better than a homemade chocolate truffle?

A homemade chocolate truffle that looks like this in the middle...

These completely and utterly divine truffles have a wonderful 'melting middle' of chocolate caramel. Eat one and weep.

You'll have to patient however. I'm not about to divulge the recipe just yet. You see generally speaking, I'm not a fan of small, dainty, fiddly cooking. Whilst I enjoy a canapé, they are not my favourite things to prepare. Whilst I love a beautifully presented individual tart, you're much more likely to find me serving up a giant one, willing everyone to help themselves to as much (or as little) as they desire.

Occasionally though, I give in to the cute and mini-portioned. In fact the past few weeks has seen my clumsy, oaf-ish fingers preparing several micro-treats. And whilst perfection they have not been (the truffles were the largest you've ever seen), they have been fun to make and rather endearing.

Firstly, I had a hand in the preparation of a staggering number of mini mince pies. I was visiting a friend for the weekend, staying with her parents. Her mother enlisted our help in making an impressive 250 mince pies for a village party she was organising.

We used two sizes of star cutter for the mince pies and I rather liked the result. Usually, I just use a star for the top and stick to a round cutter for the base. But the star cutter for the bottom made a rather pleasing claw to fill with mincemeat and the whole lot looked rather festive. You'll spot that we didn't bother to brush them all with egg (life's too short when you are baking 250 pies). Dusted with plenty of icing sugar, they'll look just perfect.

But it is ok. I'm now coming on to the aforementioned truffles. Years ago I used to make chocolate truffles for Christmas. It was my 'contribution' to the Christmas feast, along with the brandy butter when I was too young to do much else. I remember that the recipe was a Delia Smith one and that it involved Greek yoghurt. It was very good, though extraordinarily messy in the preparation.

On Sunday, I had friends over for Sunday lunch and, as I had a bit of time to prepare on the Saturday, I decided it would be nice to make some chocolates to go with coffee. Whilst flicking through my folder of recipe clippings, I found
this tempting recipe for melting middle truffles from BBC Good Food magazine. Once I spotted Dulche de Leche in the list of ingredients, I knew for certain that I had to make them!

These truffles are simpler than they might sound. Better still, they can be frozen so you can make them ahead of Christmas and defrost on Christmas Eve. They would also make a great gift for a chocolate lover, perhaps with a bottle of chocolate-friendly wine (a

Malmsey Madeira or a PX Sherry, for example).

I had a couple of problems with the recipe. Firstly, the quantities seemed a little off. I used just a third of the caramel filling - the recipe makes far too much. I'd suggest either halving the quantity of the filling, or doubling the quantity of the truffle mixture. I've amended the recipe below to make it a little more even. Secondly, I had a problem with the caramel. The recipe makes it sound simple. You freeze the caramel mixture and then snip it into small pieces before pushing into the centre of the truffles. Only problem was that my caramel didn't freeze. At all! I think this is because I used a squeezy bottle of Dulche de Leche caramel, rather than a jar (I couldn't find one). I think perhaps they add something to the caramel to make it more runny and that this prevents it from freezing solid. Next time (and there will certainly be a next time), I'll hunt out the jar. As it was, I did manage. However, it was a very sticky and mucky business. It also meant that I had to mould my truffles right around the middle, rather than just pushing the firm caramel into the truffle balls. The result? Enormous truffles. Not too much of a problem, although I couldn't manage more than two as they were very rich.

Without further ado, here is my version of the recipe. For the original,
click here.

Melt-in-the-middle chocolate truffles
Makes approx 30


1/4 420g jar of
dulche de leche caramel toffee
50g good quality dark chocolate
400g good quality milk chocolate (I used Green and Blacks)
142ml pot double cream
1 tsp vanilla essence
Lots of cocoa powder for dusting

1. Chop the dark chocolate into small pieces. Heat the dulche de leche in a milk pan until runny and then add the dark chocolate. Stir until melted and evenly combined.

2. Place a large bit of cling film over a dinner plate and oil all over. Pour the chocolate caramel over the cling film and then (once cool) place in freezer for 2 hours, or until very firm.

3. Whilst the middle mixture is freezing, make the truffle mix. This could hardly be simpler. Chop the milk chocolate and place in a bowl. Bring cream to the boil in a pan and then pour over the chocolate. Leave for 2 minutes and then add the vanilla. Stir until smooth and fully combined. Chill in the fridge until quite firm/solid.

4. Once the middle mixture is firm and the truffle mixture is set, you can start making the truffles. With wet scissors, cut the caramel mixture into small pieces (about the size of fingernail). Dust a baking sheet with cocoa powder and also dust your hands. Then take a teaspoon of the truffle mixture, poke in a caramel chunk and then shape the truffle mixture around the filling. Roll into a ball shape and roll in cocoa on the baking sheet.

5. Repeat until you've used up all the truffle mixture. You'll need to keep dusting your hands with cocoa as it is quite a messy business! Chill or freeze until required.

Note - when serving, I recommend taking these from the fridge a good hour before you want to eat them. If not, they are a little too firm and middles not sufficiently melty.


Katie said...

I spotted those truffles in BBC Food too. They look divine.

Also, your mini mince pies are soo cute! I love how you made the base star shaped too.

Margaret said...

Naughty but very, very nice!!
How delicious the truffles look.

Love the idea of using a star cutter for the base as well as the top on the mince pies - I might just steal that idea.

Maria said...

Oh wow those truffles look amazing!!

I adore the way you've made your mince pies. might have to snag that idea ;o)


Rosie said...

I also spotted those truffles in BBC Food mag. Chocolate never seems to escape my attention for very long! Your truffles look delicious and so tempting with those centres on show in your 2nd pic ~Oh my serious drooling coming on here.... Those little mini mince pies look good too :)

Rosie x

Trekkie said...

OMG, they both look fantastic.

Peter M said...

Antonia, I'm in love...these will be a hit for you during the holidays...dangerous offerings! said...

That's a great idea for mince pies. And those chocolate truffles look brilliant, I have some Dulche De Leche that I really ought to do something with now you mention it :)

Beth said...

I love the big star little star idea with the mince pies.

Loving Annie said...

oh-oh-ohh !!!! My very favorite of all - truffles with caramel - I like how you modified the recipe :)

Yummmm !

I love the mini-portioned about everything, I must confess. From Christmas goodies to amuse bouches and tasting menus :)

Please, you have been so sweet about visiting my blog and leaving comments.

Would you be willing to introduce my 'Travel Treasures' blog on yours with a sentence or two - or maybe add me to your links ? As a newbie, I need all the help I can get !

I am going to be visiting London in April - and look forward to seeing what you have in the UK and how it is both dIfferent and the same from what we have in the USA.

Loving Annie of Travel Treasures

Foodista said...

That is so cool! I love the star pies you've made and that truffle is just so decadent! I love it!

Anamika:The Sugarcrafter said...

dear antonia
i liked your innovative way of making chocolate truffles..i know it will melt in the mouth.

Sam said...

Those truffles look amazing! they would make great gifts for Christmas.

You can buy Dulce de Leche in tins now, it should be near the condensed milk.

Antonia said...

Katie - anything chocolately always leaps out at me from the magazine! They were sooo good.

Margaret - definitely naughty!! Don't know why I didn't think to use the star cutter for the bottom before - I think it looks very cute.

Maria - thanks. I was really pleased with how they turned out. Do snag away!

Rosie - I love BBC Good Food mag. Always such good ideas and these truffles were certainly drool-worthy in my book!

Treckie - wish that I hadn't gobbled them all up already...

Peter - yes, I'm certainly planning to make another batch for Christmas. Especially as I can just pop them in the freezer until then.

Ginger - I think I know where that dulche de leche is heading!!

Beth - I thought the mince pies looked cute too. Wasn't my idea I have to confess but definitely one that I'll use for my own mince pies when I get around to making them.

Annie - I'm not great at making mini things as I'm so clumsy but these seemed to turn out ok!
I'll be updating my blogroll etc later this week and shall certainly include you on it and draw people's attention to the update.

Foodista - welcome! At this time of year, it is decadent all the way with me!!

Anamika - they were best when they'd been out of the fridge a wee while. Then they really did melt in the mouth.

Sam - thanks for the tip. I'll go and hunt it out!

Bellini Valli said...

250 little mince tarts and they all look so perfect. I love the star affect. The truffles are pretty groolworthy too:D