Whilst our attention and thoughts may, quite rightly, be elsewhere at the moment, there's no escaping the fact that it is only a week until Christmas Day.
For the last couple of years, my boyfriend and I have discussed having some kind of holiday party. In September, we're full of enthusiasm for the the idea and then, all of sudden, we're in the middle of December and the season seems to be slipping away from us.
If we had been organised enough to host a party, I would have made these chocolate truffles for our guests. Instead, I just made them one rainy Saturday afternoon for the two of us to eat while we wrapped presents and watched our favourite Christmas films.
The repetitive motion of making truffles - taking a spoonful of the smooth chocolate mixture, rolling it between the palms of your hands and dipping it in icing sugar or cocoa powder or, as here, chopped nuts - is a welcome change of pace from the franticness of the season.
These truffles are, it goes without saying, rich. After all, they are made with plenty of dark chocolate and cream. The chestnuts (roasted and peeled by someone else because, frankly, I have better things to be doing with my time) mellow out the intensity though and add some depth and roundness to the flavour. This makes them quite dangerously addictive.
Just a small note on the recipe; I used half a cup of cream which makes for a fairly solid truffle. I like to let them come up to room temperature before eating but you could easily add some more cream if you want something a bit less dense. One of the very brilliant things about making chocolate truffles at home is that you can play with the quantities and add whatever you want to suit your tastes.
I used the roasted and peeled chestnuts that you can buy vacuum packed in most supermarkets. You can also buy ready puréed chestnuts which is a better option if you are food processor less - just add the chestnut purée to the cream as you heat it before combining it with the chocolate.
Chocolate and chestnut truffles
Yield: Makes about 30 depending on size
- 250g (10 oz) chestnuts, roasted and peeled (or chestnut purée)
- 120ml (1/2 cup) double/heavy cream (increase to 3/4 cup if preferred)
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 300g (12 oz) dark chocolate (I used 70%), broken into small pieces
- 1 tablespoon Cointreau (optional)
- Chopped nuts, cocoa powder or icing sugar to decorate
- If you are using whole chestnuts, grind them in a food processor until they have reached the consistency of a powdery purée. Leave in the food processor until needed.
- In a small pan, heat the cream, vanilla and salt until almost at the boiling point. Make sure to stir frequently to prevent scorching (if you are using purled chestnut, heat it with the cream at this point)
- When the cream is hot, pour over the chocolate (it might be self-evident but you probably want to put the chocolate in a bowl at some point...just a suggestion) and stir until the chocolate has melted.
- Leave the cream and chocolate mixture to cool to room temperature before pouring into the food processor along with a spoonful of alcohol if you fancy it. Pulse the chestnut and chocolate mixture together until it forms a clump of mixture with the texture of dough.
- Chill the mixture until it is cold enough to roll into balls and then roll in cocoa powder or chopped nuts.