Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Chocolate Rum Truffles

First published Canberra Times 15 December 2010
Patrick Roger's Paris Christmas window display
Patrick Roger calls himself a sculptor of flavours and he treats chocolate like a raw material, which he transforms into giant 80 kilogram creations, or wrapped sweets in metre-long boxes. Roger, a Parisien chocolatier creates the most innovative and skilful of combinations, which makes him stand out from the crowd. This unrestrained creativity often clashes with the generally classic held views and reserved world of chocolate. But I don’t mind, he can put his chocolates under my tree, any time.

Like Roger, each year I make chocolate truffles for Christmas, but that’s where the likeness ends. Unlike Roger, I make a batch of simple rum truffles which are pretty popular when given as gifts for friends and family.
Photo by Steve Shanahan

It’s easy to make truffles, but observing a few tips will make the experience even easier. Make sure that you melt the chocolate slowly, if it’s overheated the mixture will be become grainy rather than silky. Don’t rush the cooling process, the mixture needs to be firm enough to handle. Truffles will keep up to two weeks in a sealed container in the fridge.

Makes about 40 truffles

500g good quality dark chocolate (70-80% cocoa solids)
30g unsalted butter
300ml double cream
4 tbsp rum
100g ground almonds
60g Madeira cake crumbs (or a store bought plain cake)

60g finely chopped pistachios
60 g finely chopped hazelnuts
50 g sifted dark cocoa powder

Place the chocolate, cream, butter and rum in the top of a double saucepan over simmering water. Stir the mixture until it’s melted and combined. Transfer to a bowl with the almonds and cake crumbs and stir to combine. Cover and refrigerate for about 2-3 hours.

Coat your fingers in cocoa powder, take teaspoons of the chocolate mixture and shape into 2 cm balls. Roll some of the balls in the cocoa powder and some in the combined chopped pistachio and hazelnut mixture. Place the balls on a tray lined with non stick baking paper and chill for about 1 hour before serving.

Another easy and delicious variation is to make a praline coating for the truffles, by placing a combination of sugar and nuts on a baking tray and placing under a hot grill for 1-2 minutes until caramelised.