Hello to all the love birds out there! This recipe is for you to spoil your significant other this Valentine’s Day. I’m pretty sure that chocolate is the international food of love (well it is for me), and it should be enjoyed sharing with the people you love the most. Though I won’t judge you if you choose to hide it from everyone and eat it while sitting under a blanket (especially if you have children). My husband and I aren’t really into Valentine’s Day as we don’t do anything special to mark the day, but I don’t really need much of an excuse to make chocolate truffles.
I’ve been making these truffles for more than ten years, usually as Easter gifts, and they never fail to impress. There are a couple of short cuts if you can’t be bothered making the praline, or don’t have chocolate moulds.
- 175g chopped or slivered almonds
- 250g caster sugar
- 75ml water
- 250g good quality dark chocolate
- 1/2 cup thickened cream
- 200g good quality dark or milk chocolate (not everyone likes dark chocolate)
- 20 – 25 whole hazelnuts
- Chocolate moulds
- A small paint brush
Firstly you need to make the praline (or you can skip this bit entirely and just make the ganache). This praline will make double the amount you need for your truffles, but it stores well in an air tight container, or it makes a nice crunchy sweet to snack on.
Line a baking tray with baking paper and lightly roast your chopped or slithered almonds in a moderately hot oven (180C/350F) for approximately 5 minutes. While the almonds are still warm, in a small saucepan dissolve the sugar in the water. When the sugar is fully dissolved, bring it to the boil. Take it off the heat when it begins to turn a lovely caramel colour (it takes around 15 minutes).
Add the roasted almonds and stir quickly. Pour onto the lined tray you roasted the almonds on and spread it around. Let it cool to room temperature (this can take up to 1 hour). Break up the praline into pieces and blitz them in a food processor or grinder until it turns into a course powder.
To make the chocolate ganache, simply melt the chocolate with the cream. You can do this in the microwave, or a double boiler, or like me use a glass bowl over a small saucepan with water. Once the chocolate has melted, remove from the heat and stir through 60g of the powdered praline. Keep it in the refrigerator to cool and thicken.
While the ganache is cooling, lightly roast the whole hazelnuts in a moderately hot oven for approximately 5 minutes. Leave them to cool.
Melt the rest of the dark chocolate and get your moulds ready. Spoon in 1/2 a teaspoon of the melted chocolate and using a paint brush, coat the sides and bottom of each mould. Place them in the freezer for a couple of minutes to go hard. If your coat is a bit thin, you can repeat with another coat of chocolate and again return the moulds to the freezer.
Once the moulds are ready you can assemble your chocolates. Spoon in a small amount (1/2 teaspoon) of the praline ganache to the chocolate moulds and place a whole hazelnut in the middle. If you have large moulds, you may need to add more ganache on top. Cover the filling with another 1/2 teaspoon of melted chocolate. Lightly tap the moulds on the kitchen bench to remove any air bubbles. Return the moulds to the freezer for 30 minutes.
Carefully upend the chocolates out of the moulds. Slight pressure applied to the outside top should gently remove them. Conduct a scientific taste test to make sure the chocolate tastes alright…if you’re like me, you may need to perform more than one taste test! Store them in the fridge.
If you don’t have any chocolate moulds, you can simply use your hands to form some ganache around a hazelnut and roll it into a ball. You can then dip them in melted chocolate, or cover them with cocoa or some of the leftover ground praline.