'Tis the Season

… for chocolate!

But that could easily be said for any season…

Nevertheless.

I made chocolate truffles for my office Christmas/December-Birthday party this afternoon. I decided on two flavors: Dark Chocolate Espresso and Aztecan. The latter is a flavor I developed sometime about a year ago to submit to a Food Network Magazine contest featuring chili peppers as the “secret ingredient.” It’s dark chocolate with a hint of vanilla and cayenne pepper, coated in a sugar-spice mixture. I didn’t win, but they sure tasted good! They have a delicate spice that doesn’t hit until a few seconds after swallowing. It “alerts” the back of your throat and moves its way forward. I say it’s delicate because while it definitely coats your mouth with a noticeable tingly heat, it’s not so uncomfortable that you feel you must chase it with something to drink. And the sugar-spice mixture balances it out so that neither bitterness nor heat eclipse the actual flavor of the truffle.

As for the espresso… coffee, chocolate, and Kahlua. Creamy, rich, perfect. A coworker LOOOVED these and told me I should box them up and sell them or give them as Christmas gifts. 🙂

Aztecan Truffles
(Adapted from Joy of Baking)
Yields about 18 truffles

4 oz 60% dark chocolate (Mexican would be great!), chopped fine and evenly
3 oz half-and-half or cream
1 tbsp butter
1 tbsp vanilla (Mexican would be great!)
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper

Coating:
2 tbsp each fine sugar (I pulverized some turbinado sugar in a coffee grinder. I didn’t like the idea of using powdered sugar, since there’s cornstarch in it, and I wanted to make sure what I was tasting was sugar instead of flavorless cornstarch) and cinnamon
1/2 tbsp freshly grated nutmeg

Set chocolate aside in a bowl next to the stove.

Simmer butter and cream together in a small saucepan over medium heat. When mix starts to simmer, add vanilla and cayenne pepper. Mix and bring back to a simmer.

Once mixture is hot, pour over chocolate in the bowl. Mix immediately with a fork until melted and smooth.

Pour into a flat, rimmed surface lined with wax paper. I used a pie tin. Refrigerate at least an hour, but preferably overnight.

Meanwhile, mix sugar, cinnamon, and nutmeg together in a small bowl.

Once firm, use a small spoon, spring-loaded scoop, or brute force to take 1/4-oz to 1/2-oz portions of chocolate and roll into a ball with your fingertips. If you must, use your palms, but using your fingertips helps keep the chocolate in the final product instead of on your hands. Remember, they don’t have to be perfect spheres. Truffles are meant to resemble clods of fungus growing in the ground in wooded areas of France (or Oregon). Rustic=good.

Give the formed balls a good toss in the sugar-spice mixture until evenly coated, then transfer to a pan lined with wax paper.

Repeat with the rest of the chocolate. Refrigerate until needed. They taste best at room temperature.

 

 

Dark Chocolate Espresso Truffles
Yields about 18 truffles

It follows the same general concept, but the differences look like this:

4 oz 60% dark chocolate, chopped fine and evenly
3 oz half-and-half or cream
1 tbsp butter
1/2 oz Kahlua or other coffee liqueur
1/2 tbsp espresso power (I used a packet of Starbucks Via Ready Brew)

Coating:
About 1 oz of raw almonds, dry roasted in a 350 degree oven for 8-10 minutes, then carefully chopped fine/pulverized in a coffee grinder (hazelnuts would be nice, but I happened to have almonds on hand)

Set chocolate aside in a bowl next to the stove.

Simmer butter and cream together in a small saucepan over medium heat. When mix starts to simmer, add Kahlua and espresso powder. Mix and bring back to a simmer.

Once mixture is hot, pour over chocolate in the bowl. Mix immediately with a fork until melted and smooth.

Pour into a flat, rimmed surface lined with wax paper. I used a cake pan. Refrigerate at least an hour, but preferably overnight.

Meanwhile,  put crushed almonds in a small bowl.

Once firm, use a small spoon, spring-loaded scoop, or brute force to take 1/4-oz to 1/2-oz portions of chocolate and roll into a ball with your fingertips. If you must, use your palms, but using your fingertips helps keep the chocolate in the final product instead of on your hands. Remember, they don’t have to be perfect spheres. Truffles are meant to resemble clods of fungus growing in the ground in wooded areas of France (or Oregon). Rustic=good.

Give the formed balls a good toss in the crushed almonds until evenly coated, then transfer to a pan lined with wax paper.

Repeat with the rest of the chocolate. Refrigerate until needed. They taste best at room temperature.

——————–

And what do I do with leftover crushed almonds? Take them for some extra spins in the coffee grinder with some pumpkin pie spice and raw honey (a la Ashley) and make a single serving of almond butter!

Because I’m clever like that. 😉

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