We all love a good chocolate truffle in some shape or form & often associate them with special occasions or cheeky indulgent ones (you know, the times where you have nothing to celebrate but just want chocolate).
Traditionally made by rolling or coating a spherical shaped chocolate ganache centre in things such as icing sugar, cocoa powder or chopped nuts. They are super easy to prepare & make such a lovely homemade gift or a light after-dinner treat.
Truffles were invented in 1920’s & like many of the confections & treats we enjoy today they were discovered purely by accident. French chef Auguste Escoffier was working on a pastry cream when he accidentally poured his hot cream into a bowl of chocolate chunks instead of his bowl of sugared egg (we’ve all been there, although my accidents never seem to result in anything wonderful, more an inedible mess).
As the mixture began to set & harden, he realised that he could manipulate & mould the mixture with his hands to form balls of chocolate paste. He continued to roll his new creation in cocoa powder & once covered he was struck by its resemblance to the valuable & luxurious truffle fungus from the French Perigord region, hence the name ‘chocolate truffle’ was born.
As the truffle developed, chefs & confectioners began flavouring their ganache with things such as Champagne & liqueurs. Today, there are infinite amounts of different flavours on the market but the most popular ones tend to be plain chocolate or those that contain small amounts of alcohol such as brandy, Champagne or whiskey.
The wonderful thing about something so simple is that is open to a multitude of interpretations. There are different flavourings, coverings, fillings & ingredients that you can use to adjust to your preference.
This is why confectionery makes such a good gift, you can literally personalise each treat to suit the tastes of the receiver. Truffles hit all the marks when it comes to gifting… it’s homemade, thoughtful, bespoke & everyone loves chocolate! (Spoiler: if any of you are receiving gifts from me this year, you’re having these!).
As an advocate for homemade gifting, especially at Christmas time, I never fail to make a mess of my kitchen as I bottle & bag up jams, chutneys, cakes & sweets for everyone. Whilst I have my go to recipes every year I do like to try & create something new or different. This year that led me to more festive flavours, namely in the form of Christmas cake.
During a bit of a belated spring clean of the house (it’s been a busy year), I came across a tin chock full with slices of Christmas cake. The cake in question was one that I’d made the previous year & quite clearly forgotten about so it had been waiting patiently, maturing away & now tasted incredible! However, with a new batch of Christmas cakes already made & maturing away for the big day, I didn’t have a need for it & (probably) couldn’t scoff it all before I’ve iced the new one but definitely didn’t want to waste it.
Internet searches left me wanting as I didn’t want to condemn it to ice cream or the dreadful ‘cake pop’ (seriously, not a fan of these) so this is where my food obsessed little brain started to envisage many weird & wonderful uses for this rich fruit cake. This was one such way that coincidentally checked off two of my commitments in a simple & beautiful way. I could use up my leftover Christmas cake in a new chocolate truffle that I could then give as gifts (win,win!).
CHRISTMAS CAKE TRUFFLES
(makes around 63)
- 250ml double cream
- 250g dark chocolate, broken up into chunks
- 50g light muscovado sugar
- Knob of butter
- 400g Christmas cake, chopped up into smallish chunks
- 4 tbsp cocoa powder
- Optional: sprinkles
- Place the cream & sugar into a large heavy bottomed saucepan
- Gently heat until all of the sugar has dissolved, remove & set aside to cool for 5 minutes
- Stir the butter through the mixture before adding in the chocolate & mixing until smooth & shiny
- Add the cake to the pan & stir through evenly
- Leave the mixture to cool to room temperature (roughly 2 hours) before placing in the fridge to chill for a further 2 hours or overnight
- When ready to make the truffles, remove the mixture from the fridge & bring back to room temperature for an hour
- Place the cocoa powder/sprinkles into a small bowl
- Using a teaspoon, scoop out spoonfuls of the mixture & roll between the palms of your hands to form balls
- Use a fork or your fingers to roll the chocolate balls through the cocoa powder or sprinkles to coat them & place on a piece of baking parchment
- Repeat the process until the mixture has been used up
- Store in an airtight container until ready to eat or gift