It has become a tradition for me to make edible gifts for my clients and friends who live far away every year.
This year, it’s candy time! I’m sharing four different kinds of candies with you this week, all of which make perfect homemade gifts. I wish I could ship treats to everyone (that’s how much I love to make edible gifts!) but I figure recipes is second best, isn’t it?
I’m not sure whether there’s a treat that spells holidays more than truffles. They’re the quintessential hostess gift, and they sell for a prime at chocolateries, pastry shops, and gourmet grocery stores. But you know how easy they are to make, right? They’re so easy, in fact, that I thought they had become common and shied away from making them, thinking people I would gift them to would shrug them off and think, “Oh thanks, more truffles.” Because, of course, there’s no such thing as truffle overdose, this year I decided to whip up a batch—and I’m so happy I did. There’s nothing boring about these: the fruity berry flavors complement the bitter, earthy notes of the chocolate amazingly, without turning them too sweet. It’s the perfect dessert for people who say they don’t like dessert, and they’re great with a sip of Sherry cask whiskey, or the liqueur you made the truffles with.
In the recipe, I use the product of a local blackcurrant farm, Cassis Monna & Filles, which makes an outstanding crème de cassis (“blackcurrant cream”). If you can’t find blackcurrant liqueur, you can use any berry-based liqueur, such as Chambord, or double the amount of wild blueberry jam to make them alcohol-free.
Makes about 32 truffles (the recipe can easily be halved)
For the truffles
12 oz [340 g] bittersweet chocolate, chopped (choose 70% cocoa content high quality chocolate to make the recipe dairy-free)
2 tbsp [30 ml] unsalted butter, or dairy free buttery spread
¼ cup [60 ml] regular heavy cream (35% fat content), or soy cream
¼ cup [60 ml] smooth wild blueberry jam (if there are whole blueberries in the jam, press it through a sieve so it’s smooth)
¼ cup [60 ml] blackcurrant cream or liqueur
¼ cup [60 ml] cocoa powder
Melt 12 oz [340 g] chocolate with the butter or dairy free buttery spread, regular or soy cream, and wild blueberry jam in the top of a double boiler over hot, not boiling, water until smooth. Remove from the heat and stir in the liqueur. Pour into a small container, cover, and refrigerate until firm, about 2 hours.
Take the chocolate mixture out of the refrigerator. Line a baking sheet with parchment or wax paper. Sift the cocoa powder into a small bowl. Using a 1-inch [2.5-cm] scoop or melon baller, from the chocolate mixture into balls and drop them onto the baking sheet. If the chocolate mixture is too firm to work with, leave it a few minutes more at room temperature to soften. Roll each ball in the cocoa powder to coat lightly and return to the baking sheet. Place in the freezer until frozen, about two hours.
Melt the remaining 12 oz [340 ml] chocolate with the oil in the top of a double boiler over hot, not boiling, water until smooth. Remove the chocolate balls from the freezer, and line a second baking sheet with parchment or wax paper. Using two forks, turn each chocolate ball in the melted chocolate to coat evenly and carefully transfer to the prepared baking sheet. If desired, sprinkle a little cocoa nibs on the top of each truffle when the chocolate is still soft. If the chocolate cools too much, reheat it and continue coating the balls.
Alternatively, you can skip the coating step altogether and serve the truffles dusted with cocoa powder as is. Both options are delicious, but the extra chocolate coating makes the truffles extra special!
Refrigerate until firm, about 15 minutes, before serving. The truffles will keep in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 1 month, or in the freezer for up to 3 months. Always bring back to room temperature before serving.
Recipe Credit: Adapted from Lou Seibert Pappas, The Christmas Candy Book