White Chocolate Almond Truffles

Continuing in our week of chocolate, I thought I’d share a white chocolate recipe. These are rich, quite sweet little treats, that don’t taste strongly of almonds or white chocolate. The flavor seemed almost caramelly to me. But not even exactly that either. 🙂 Still, these would make a unique addition to your holiday treat repertoire.

I did find the rolling of these to be incredibly tedious. Truffle rolling is always messy, but somehow these just didn’t want to be rolled. See my note below the recipe with a possible alternative finish to these candies.

WHITE CHOCOLATE ALMOND TRUFFLES

1 pound white chocolate
1 cup heavy cream
1 cup natural almond butter
1/2 cup sugar
pinch of salt
1 cup blanched almonds

Break chocolate into pieces no larger than a lima bean. Either pulse chocolate in a food processor fitted with a steel blade or chop by hand.

Heat cream, almond butter, sugar, and salt in a saucepan over medium heat, stirring frequently, until mixture comes to a simmer. Stir in chocolate. Remove the pan from the heat, cover the pan, and allow chocolate to melt for 5 minutes. Whisk mixture until smooth, and transfer to a 9 x 9-inch baking pan. Chill mixture for at least 4 hours, or overnight.

While mixture chills, preheat the oven to 350°F. Place almonds on a baking sheet, and toast for 5 to 7 minutes, or until lightly browned. Remove the pan from the oven, and in a food processor fitted with a steel blade, pulse to finely chop the almonds. Or chop finely by hand. Set aside.

Place chopped almonds in a bowl. Using a spoon, scoop out 2 teaspoons mixture, and gently form it into a ball. Roll balls in chopped almonds, and then refrigerate for 30 minutes or until firm.

Cook’s Note: If I make them again, I think I might grease my square pan, sprinkle in a layer of finely chopped, toasted almonds, pour in and spread the hot truffle mixture, and then sprinkle the top with the remaining chopped toasted almonds. Then, instead of little truffle balls, you could cut truffle squares.

Variation: Substitute natural peanut butter and dark chocolate to make chocolate peanut butter truffles.

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Cinnamon-Honey Truffles

Any chocolate loving person is bound to enjoy truffles. They are so deeply rich and chocolatey. I was intrigued by this particular recipe (which I found in some cookbook or other and promptly forgot the name) because the cream is steeped in spices and honey. I loved the idea; however, the spices were very subtle in the end result. If you want more of the cinnamon to shine through, I’d try doubling the amount of cinnamon stick. Or, you can do like I did and sprinkle a little cinnamon into the cocoa powder that you roll the truffles in. Either way, these are delicious drops of chocolate, perfect for a holiday goody tray.

CINNAMON-HONEY TRUFFLES
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8 ounces dark bittersweet chocolate (at least 60% cacao), very finely chopped
1/2 c. heavy cream
1 Tbsp honey
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2-1 cinnamon stick, 1 1/2-3 inches long (depending on the depth of spice you want)
2 whole cloves
pinch of sea salt
2 1/2 Tbsp unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/4 c. unsweetened dutch-process cocoa powder, sifted

Place the chocolate in a medium heatproof bowl. (It is very important to chop the chocolate very finely to allow it to melt properly.)

In a small saucepan over medium heat, combine the cream, honey, vanilla, cinnamon stick, cloves, and salt. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to low, and simmer for 5 minutes. Remove from the heat. Pour the cream through a fine-mesh sieve held over the chocolate, discarding the contents of the sieve, and let stand for 2 minutes. Using a rubber spatula, gently stir the chocolate mixture in a circular motion until it has completely melted. Add the butter and stir until incorporated. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and set aside at room temperature for 30 minutes to set the chocolate. Then refrigerate the chocolate for 30 minutes, or until the chocolate is able to be scooped and rolled into balls.

Line a rimmed baking sheet with waxed paper. Using a small spoon or scoop, scoop out 1-inch balls of chocolate and gently roll them into irregularly shaped truffles. Place them on the prepared baking sheet. Return the truffles to the refrigerator and chill until firm, about 1 hour.

Place the sifted cocoa powder in a shallow bowl. One at a time, roll the truffles in the cocoa, coating evenly. Makes about 30 truffles.

Cook’s Note: The truffles will keep up to 2 weeks in the refrigerator.

Holiday Treats: Truffles & Sugar Plums

(Alaina) I’ve made these truffles a few times but they seemed extra good this year – I think the original recipe might be from Taste of Home but this is my variation on it. The not-too-sweet Raspberry Cream Truffles are a beautiful addition to any goodie tray and would make perfect gifts! You do need to refrigerate them so keep that in mind.

The truffles were easy to change up – I dipped some in dark chocolate, rolled some in coconut and some in almonds. You could also dip them in white chocolate or milk chocolate or roll them in cocoa powder. For a different flavor, try another kind of preserves – I’m thinking strawberry with melted white chocolate chips instead of the semi-sweet chocolate chips would be delicious! It’s very important to refrigerate them for the specified amount of time before rolling them. I used a holiday mini muffin cup for each chocolate – it made for a pretty presentation.

RASPBERRY CREAM TRUFFLES
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1 package (8 oz.) cream cheese, softened
1 c. semisweet chocolate chips melted
1 c. crushed graham crackers or vanilla wafers
1/2 c. seedless raspberry preserves
finely chopped toasted almonds, coconut, cocoa powder, or melted chocolate (dark, milk, or white)

In a small bowl, beat cream cheese until smooth. Beat in the melted chips, wafer crumbs and preserves. Cover and refrigerate for 2 hours or until easy to handle.

Shape into 1-in. balls; roll in almonds, coconut, and/or cocoa powder or dip in melted chocolate. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator. Makes about 3-3-1/2 dozen.

(Stephanie) In the hopes of finding a different and slightly less sweet treat for the holiday season, I set out to find and test a Fruit and Nut Ball recipe. In my researching, I discovered that these tiny sweets are also called Sugar Plums. And to be honest, I quite like that name.

I initially had some trouble with this recipe being too corase to stick together. I added a bit of orange juice and a little extra honey and still had troubles. You know what the secret is? Using a food processor. The recipe didn’t specify this method, but some quick research showed many other recipes do. It’s too difficult to get the fruits and nuts fine enough to become one mixture. Once I dumped it in the food processor, it worked perfectly. So my advice, use a food processor if you don’t want to be frustrated.

As I didn’t have dates, I used a combination of dried cranberries and dried cherries. Any combination of dried fruits should work. I was pleasantly surprised by the combination of flavors and love that these will keep for so long. I hope you enjoy these healthier, sweet treats (bonus, they are naturally gluten free!).

SUGAR PLUMS (or Fruit and Nut Balls)
(from Saveur Magazine online)
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2 c. whole almonds
1/4 c. honey
2 tsp orange zest
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp allspice
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1 c. chopped dried apricots
1 c. chopped dates
1 c. confectioner’s sugar or toasted coconut

Preheat oven to 400°F. Arrange almonds on baking sheet in a single layer and toast in the oven for 10 minutes. Cool and chop.

Meanwhile, combine honey, orange zest, and spices in the bowl of a food processor. Add chopped nuts and chopped fruits. Pulse to combine. Mixture should be thick and stick together.

Pinch off rounded teaspoon size and roll into balls (rinse hands often as the mixture is very sticky). Roll balls in powdered sugar, ground toasted coconut, or finely ground nut meal. Makes 60-70 balls.

Store in an airtight container in single layers divided by wax paper in refrigerator for up to a month.

The Best Chocolate in Town

A few weeks ago my sister took me to a local chocolate shop. I had no idea how fun the afternoon was going to be. Stepping in the door of The Best Chocolate in Town (880 Massachusetts Avenue; Indpls.) we were greeted with row after row of handmade chocolate truffles in all sorts of exotic, as well as expected, flavors.

In the room next door to the entrance we glimpsed the workings of the shop from behind glass. Chocolate slowly swirled in a large vat. Trays of newly made truffles sat on the counters and towards the back an employee stirred a concoction on a stove top.

 

The owner, Elizabeth Garber, warmly greeted us and happily answered our questions. The shop has been around for 12 years and they make all of their own chocolates in-house, except for ice-cream and the extensive line of sugar-free chocolates they carry(which require a whole different process from regular chocolates).

Once we’d looked at everything it was time to choose our truffles. Narrowing the decision down from 38 choices to only 6 truffles was very difficult. Some of the options included: Blackberry, Champagne, Cranberry Orange Cinnamon, French Vanilla, Guinness, Honey Lavender, Lemon Chiffon, Raspberry, Rosemary, Strawberry Cheesecake, and Sour Cherry. Looking back, we’re not sure how it happened but we ended up with six very exotic truffles: The Gorg (Gorgonzola cheese), Cinnamon Basil, Wasabi Ginger, Espresso Cardamom, Fiery Cayenne, and Asian Spice (Five Spice).

Our truffles were boxed up in an adorable box, complete with ribbon, and put in a bag tied with the shop’s card and ribbon. We left trying to decide how many truffles we should try now and how many we should save.

An hour later, coffee cups in hand and an additional taster added, we opened the box of truffles. First was The Gorg — a creamy, slightly salty taste with a hint of Gorgonzola at the back of the mouth. We all agreed it was good. Ginger Wasabi next — wow! I loved the hot tang in the midst of the chocolate, and the candied ginger on top. The other girls weren’t so sure, but I insisted it was probably going to be my favorite.

Everyone gave the Espresso Cardamon a thumbs up. Good chocolate flavor with just enough cardamom shining through. Excellent with chai, we decided. And then came Cinnamon Basil. Hmmm….. “It’s like Bath & Body works landed on my tongue,” said one taster. Much discussion ensued. None of us liked it — but none of us like white chocolate and that is what the truffle is dipped in. But the truffle later redeemed itself when Alaina tasted it and declared it one of her favorites.

With only two truffles left untouched it was unanimously decided that we had to go ahead and try all six truffles. What was the point in waiting until later? Fiery Cayenne was appealing because of the bite at the end and made it the favorite of one taster. Asian Spice was very creamy and not over powering. We all agreed that it too would be a perfect accompaniment to chai tea.

By the time the afternoon ended we were satiated with coffee, chocolate, laughter and good company. I had no idea how fun it could be to consume a box of chocolates with friends! It was definitely one of the best ways to spend $12 and I highly recommend it!

So, if any of you are in the Indianapolis area, you must check out The Best Chocolate in Town (especially if you are looking for a terrific Valentine’s gift). And, if you aren’t in the area, you can still look at their beautiful website and order online!