Wednesday, 19 October 2011

Chocolate Mint Truffles

Bah humbug!  Christmas.  I'm so over it already and it's only October!  I used to love Christmas as my birthday is just a few days before so when I was a kid, it was just one long round of presents and fun.  But of course, as you get older, your family dwindles, old faces leave and unless there are new additions to the family, Christmas can lose its sparkle to the point of becoming a tedious chore of filling the coffers of big corporations.

Now we have Miss Abigail, Christmas is starting to have a little sheen to it again and I'm *trying to make an effort* to make it a bit more meaningful - ie not surfing doing all my shopping on Amazon on my birthday because I can't be doing with the crowds at Cribbs Causeway.

As part of the grand plan, the 'rents and my lovely Grandad have been invited to Christmas dinner (although they're staying for three days - oh the new recipes I'll get through!) and I'm again going to make edible gifts for friends and family rather than spending a fortune in Thorntons.

The first contribution to the effort has been Gordon Ramsay's mint and chocolate truffles.  I had some mint left over from the mojito cupcakes and some cream I'd bought for a tarte au citron that never saw the light of day last weekend so it seemed the perfect recipe to try.

Rustic looking truffles
Sceptic that I am, I wasn't convinced that the mint flavour would cut through the very strong chocolate because although the kitchen smelt lovely and minty, the cream tasted of...well....cream even after steeping the mint in it for the recommended six minutes.  I also nearly didn't put the honey in as I am not a fan - preferring maple syrup wherever I can get away with it - but as I said a few days ago, The Sweary One is a multi-Michelin starred chef and I'm just a slummy mummy/business analyst/wannabee cakery owner (although I still think he needs advice on how to put spice in his banana oat muffins!).

Sticking faithfully to the recipe was quite clearly the right thing to do because once the chocolate has been cleared from the palate, the mint gives a lovely little after-kick.  So much nicer than recipes that use peppermint flavouring.  In fact, I would consider using mint-steeped cream to flavour frosting for any future bakings of the mojito cupcakes from yesterday - I feel some experimenting coming on shortly.

The only issue I encountered was that the mixture took a long time to set and I ended up freezing it for ten minutes to get it to a workable consistency.  And why is it that I spend my life with cold hands and wearing gloves when it's virtually summer outside, yet whenever I make pastry or truffles, my  palms are sweatier than a politician submitting an expense claim?  Someone should invent chillable gloves for chefs that keep your hands at a suitable temperature...

I always roll my truffles in Green and Blacks Hot Chocolate Mix which lends a lovely, sweet, slightly crunchy texture to the outside - I find cocoa dusted truffles a little too bitter for my liking.  In some ways, I guess it's the modern take on using vermicelli.  Although vermicelli is so retro, it's probably the fashionable choice for truffle coating, but I'm not that 'down with the kids' of the chocolate world.

They are now hidden in the freezer, ready to be defrosted and packaged nearer the big day.  Not sure how many people will actually get any as they may...erm...disappear over the coming weeks...

Anyhoo, the recipe is over on the Tesco Real Food website and has come from Christmas with Gordon which hasn't yet been published as I write.

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