Categories
Cooking Food General Recipes

How to Eat Delicious Homemade Pierogies

An alternate but equally fitting title for this post would be: How to Cheer Yourself up on a Cold, Wet, Gray Winter Afternoon. You’ll see why if you read on.

I was at home, sitting on the couch, trying to bring myself to work, do some yoga, or just be productive in some way. And I just couldn’t. It was dreary outside; we’d had snow early in the morning, but by now all the snow had melted into sludge. The sun was nowhere to be seen and I was generally feeling bloody awful, pardon the cussing. I hadn’t even the energy to cook! Can you imagine that? “I ALWAYS have the energy to cook, bake etc” I muttered to myself, half heartedly. I was, you see, even too tired and bored to be dramatically panicked by this laziness; I was also too tired to be dramatically panicked by my lack of dramatic panic. This, when I am the sort of person who uses exclamation points more than any other form of punctuation! See what I mean!

Anyway, I found the answer! Delicious homemade pierogies! You see, pierogies freeze well and I happened to find a couple in the freezer. They were basic or classic pierogies, stuffed with potatoes and cheese, made by a friend’s super sweet and part-polish Nana. So I promptly melted some unsalted butter in a pan and heated the pierogies up. I covered the pan at first and set the flame on low so that the insides of the pierogies could cook. Then I took off the lid and raised the heat slightly and toasted the outside a little.

Finally the garnish: I sprinkled some freshly ground pepper on top and then grated on some Irish cheese, Dubliner to be precise. I know, it sounds odd and inauthentic, but it works very well. This cheese is sharp, so it complements the relative blandness of the pierogies. And anyway, anything Irish and anything with potatoes go together in my book 😛 The final touch was a sprig of fresh oregano.

Here’s the end product:

I shall make pierogies myself one of these days, mushroom and cheese ones, and then I shall write all about it.

Categories
Cooking Food General Indian Cooking Recipes

How to Make Khichdi: A Low-fat, Fast, and Simple Indian Recipe

I spent much of this past week writing a long note on copyright theory. I had a deadline to meet (as I mentioned, in my previous post about sunbathing kitties) and I found myself working pretty much around the clock. So I ended up eating out quite a bit.  4 days out of the past 7, I walked out in the snow, slush, gorgeous winter sun, or whatever else this bizarre winter threw at me, and got takeout. Finally, yesterday, sick of all this, I decided to make myself some good, comfort food. I needed something that was simple, fast and healthy; especially something ‘fast’ because I wanted to send off the note to my supervisor before the end of the day. “What should I make?” I pondered, and then it struck me! I was going to make Khichdi!

I’ve forgotten all about khichdi these past few years, choosing to explore more complex and indulgent dishes like dal makhani instead. But today was a khichdi kind of day. Khichdi is the perfect food for when you’re sick, or too busy to make something more complicated. It’s just lentils and rice with some mild spices. You can however, add some vegetables (bleugh! (I am not a huge fan of vegetables, you see)) to it to if you want to.

Here’s how to make some khichdi for yourself:

Ingredients:

1 cup moong dal (you could also use other lentils like Tur dal for instance)

A little less than 1 cup rice

1 tsp red chilli powder

1 tsp cumin powder (dry roast cumin seeds and then grind them, or you can buy the powder at the store)

1 tsp coriander powder (dry roast coriander seeds and then grind them, or you can buy the powder at the store)

1/2 tsp haldi (turmeric powder)

3 cloves of garlic, peeled

1-2 green chilli sliced horizontally into two. (You can also use half a Jalapeño).

For the tadka (tempering):

1-2 tbsp of ghee (Indian clarified butter, you can make this at home, or buy some at an Indian store)

1/2 to 3/4 cumin seeds

3 dried red chillies

A few kernels of black pepper

2 pinches of heengh (asafoetida)

3 cloves 

Optional Serving Accompaniments:

Yoghurt

Ghee (you can find it in an Indian store; if you’d like to make it at home, here is my recipe)

Indian Pickle (you can make some at home, but this isn’t so easy. You can also buy some at any Indian store. I chose a Andhra-style tomato pickle for today).

Method:

Start by soaking the moong dal in water for about 30 minutes. You don’t generally have to soak moong dal, but it cooks faster if you do. Also, I like the dal to be well-cooked, even squishy in khichdi, which is why I wouldn’t skip this step in this recipe.

Moong Dal
Pre-soaked moong dal used in making khichdi

Place a pressure cooker or pot (that comes with a lid) on the stove.  Add the lentils, rice, garlic, green chillies and red chilli, turmeric, coriander and cumin powders and stir. Finally, add 2 cups of water, place the lid on the cooker/pot, lower the heat to medium and let the lentil-rice mixture cook. If you’re using a pressure cooker, let the mixture cook until the cooker lets off 4 whistles. If you’re using a pot, just let the mixture cook slowly, stirring occasionally. The mixture is done when it’s squishy enough for you, but make sure not to overdo it or you will end up with a goopy mess.

Now, add one or two tablespoons of ghee (I added two but one will do the trick) to the smallest pot you own, and turn on the heat to high. When the ghee is hot, add the cumin seeds and wait for them to splutter. Then, add the red chillies (torn in half), black pepper, cloves and heengh to the ghee and toss them about. When the chillies darken add this spiced ghee (called the tadka or popu) to the lentil-rice mixture. Your khichdi is done!

Serve with yoghurt and some pickle.

Khichdi
Khichdi- a rice and lentil dish that is great as comfort food, for when you’re sick, busy or lazy 🙂

I like eating south Indian ghee with khichdi, so I served some ghee along with it in a little tart mold. That’s what I placed right on top of the khichdi.

Khichdi with Ghee
Khichdi tastes best with a generous helping of Ghee- Indian Clarified butter.

If you want to know more about making south Indian ghee, you can read about it on this website. I am sure I will post something about it soon enough though. I LOVE ghee in general and South Indian ghee in particular.

Categories
Cats General

Sunbathing Kitties

I’ve spent much of the day working; I have to send my supervisor a note on my thoughts on copyright theory. It’s fascinating to think about copyright law and philosophy and I love my work, but the truth is, it can get a bit tiring and I am desperately in need of a good break. When I don’t have the time to make chocolate-related delicacies I unwind by looking at kitty-pictures. I was so tickled by some of these photographs that I thought I’d share them with y’all.

And so, for your enjoyment, I present a small selection from my collection of sun-bathing kitty photographs:

20120212-214918.jpg

Winter sun-bathing on my lap
Kitty in the bushes- I know technically this isn't really a sun-bathing photo, but he looked so cute and incongruous in the bushes, I had to include this photograph.
Categories
Baking Chocolate Food Indian Cooking Recipes

How to Break AND Fix a Chocolate Ganache

I am taking chocolate fudge cupcakes to a friend’s birthday party tonight! I baked them late last night and took a break from work this afternoon to frost them. I decided to fill them with dark chocolate ganache and top them off with either Gianduja chocolate frosting or Peanut butter-cream frosting. I will write about how the cakes turned out soon enough, this post however is all about the ganache. More specifically, it is about how to break a chocolate ganache and then, fix it. Why, you ask, would you want to know how to break a ganache? Well, because then you’ll know what not to do when YOU make your next ganache, of course. And if you manage to break your ganache in a unique and entirely different manner than the one chronicled below, why then read on, and you will find how to fix it!

A dark chocolate ganache should taste smooth and rich. This is how it should look:

Chocolate ganache
This is how a chocolate ganache ought to look; a broken ganache will look oily and goopy not smooth and even like this.
Unfortunately for me, things went horribly wrong. I ended up with an awful, goopy, oily mess. I didn’t take a picture of it, but here is a link to someone else’s photograph of a ruined ganache that looks very much like mine did.

I think this might be because I added cold vanilla extract from the fridge, when in fact, I should have ensured that it was at room temperature.

I panicked and tried various ways of fixing it. First, I heated it on low in the microwave. When that didn’t work, I tried heating it in a double boiler. Finally, I tried to fix it by adding a few tablespoons of warm milk one at a time. After each table-spoon, I gently stirred the mixture with a whisk. And Voila! It worked! Here is what I ended up with:

Fixed chocolate ganache
Fixed, but slightly thin, ganache
It is smooth and even, the way it out to be. However, the mixture is a bit thinner than my previous ganaches have been. It’ll firm up in a bit I am sure, and since I am using it as a filling for cupcakes this might even be a happy accident, as it might be nice to have a softer filling inside the cakes. On the other hand, if I was going to be making truffles with this ganache, I might have a problem on my hands.

Ps. I washed my hands before I dipped my finger in that ganache!

Categories
Baking Chocolate Cooking Food Recipes

An Incredibly Simple Chocolate Mousse Recipe (It’s about as healthy as something chocolatey can get!)

I am somewhat infamous amongst my friends and family for my chocolate obsession (it’s not hard to see why). As a result, my friends often send me chocolate-related recipes by email, Facebook etc. I am always grateful for these messages from them, if nothing else because it means they thought of me. But last week, my friend Zoe posted a link for a chocolate mousse recipe on my Facebook timeline that has entirely changed the way I look at chocolate!

When I first saw the recipe, I thought it seemed too simple to be true. Despite my skepticism, my curiosity got the better of me and I decided to give it a try sometime in the near future. As it turned out, I woke up today to find I was out of the Cointreau chocolate truffles I recently made, so, desperately needing my chocolate fix, I decided to try the mousse recipe out. The method employed in this recipe was invented by Herve This, who is a French chemist and, well if you ask me, also a French magician! It turns out this truly is a miracle method/recipe! I am not just being hyperbolic; I mean it. Here’s why:

1. The basic recipe has only has two ingredients: chocolate and water.

2. Although this point is essentially redundant given point 1, I just want to emphasize the fact that the recipe does not call for cream, butter or sugar! So it is pretty low-fat and healthy, for a chocolate mousse recipe.

3. The process is fairly simply, all it needs is a bit of whipping.

You’re amazed aren’t you? Well give it a go, I promise it’s easy and the result is delicious! But before I go on, I just want to add a little caveat to all this. I say this recipe is low-fat because it doesn’t call for cream, butter etc. Having said that, it is still a chocolate mousse recipe. Even though it contains only chocolate and water, chocolate, even dark chocolate contains quite a lot of calories. So this mousse is still considerably more fattening than say just eating some fruit for dessert. So eat it in reasonable quantities.

(I know, I know, you’re calling me a hypocrite now, but YOU, my dear reader can, and should, aspire to a healthier, more sane lifestyle than I adopt, surely!)

I used Heston Blumenthal’s recipe as a base but changed the quantities a little, and added Cointreau for a little extra oomph. Here are the instructions for my version:

Equipment:

1 Saucepan

1 large bowl and 1 smaller bowl

Ice

A whisk

Ingredients:

250g good dark chocolate (I used Godiva chocolate with 72% cocoa solids)

220 ml water

2 tbsp Cointreau (you could also use Grand Marnier)

Cocoa powder and finely grated orange peel for decoration

(The exact quantity of water that you will need varies a little with the room temperature in the room and ice bath, and the particular chocolate you use, so you might have to tweak these measurements. Once you try the recipe out, you’ll get a sense of it and you might find you need to add another tablespoon of water, or reduce the water in the recipe by a bit.)

Method:

Chop up the chocolate on a cutting board into fine bits with a large knife. I have a food processor, so I just break the chocolate up into individual squares and then throw it into the processor. The reason you want the chocolate broken up into fine bits is because you want it all to melt easily when you heat it. Chocolate burns easily, so you’ve always got to be careful when melting it.

Take the larger bowl and fill it with ice and cold water. Place the smaller bowl in this bigger bowl on top of the ice. The bottom of the smaller bowl should rest on the ice.

Next pour the water into a saucepan, place the pan on the stove and turn on the heat/flame to low. Now add the chocolate and Cointreau. With the whisk begin mixing the chocolate, liqueur, and water. Once the chocolate is melted, pour it into the small bowl sitting in the ice-bath. Start whisking the chocolate fairly furiously. It will slowly thicken.

Watch the video below to get an idea of how much to whisk it and when to stop (the whisking bit is from around 1.15 to 1.45).

It’s important not to overdo the whipping; if you do, you won’t end up with a mousse-like consistency. I made that mistake the first time around 😦 and I ended up with a dry mess that looked like this:

If you overdo it, you can melt the chocolate again and repeat the whipping process.

When you have the right consistency, you should stop whisking immediately and serve the mousse. I used an ice cream scoop to gorge some out and then served it on a plate like this- lightly dusted with cocoa on top:

Another option is to scoop into little serving bowls like this. Again, I dusted the top with cocoa powder and then garnished with finely grated orange peel. I’ll probably take of the orange bits before I eat it though, so this is a purely decorative addition.

Categories
Chocolate General Recipes

Cocoa Body Butter that Will Make you Swoon!

Today, I am going to be writing about food without writing about food. “How”, you ask, “is this possible?” Read on my aspiring domestic goddesses and gods and you will see!

In a previous post (a recipe for chocolate brazil-nut butter), I raved about The Body Shop’s brazil-nut body butter. While this is my favourite flavour, a close second, is their cocoa butter body butter. Despite how much I love this product though, the truth is that I’ve always wanted a body-butter that was even more, well cocoa-ey. (By now, if you’ve been reading one or two of my blog-posts, you know that I am definitely not a “less is more” type of person; more is definitely better in my book!) In the past, I’ve made my own body and face oils, having been inspired and coached by an old friend of mine, Ralph, who now practices naturopathy and Ayurveda in South Germany. So the concept of making my own skin-products isn’t entirely new to me; I’ve just never gotten around to it.

Then, in December last year, before I pushed off to India for the holidays, I had friends over for dinner, and one of them mentioned making her own lip balm. This got me thinking, and I resolved to make my own body butter someday. And then, I promptly tucked away said resolve somewhere in the back of my mind and forgot all about it. What with packing, flying to India and having wildly inappropriate dance parties with my insane family (and by this I mean my parents, Aunts, and Uncles happily prancing about to bollywood dance music with us young’un’s), I just didn’t have the chance to give it a go.

And then today, I woke up with a rather inexplicable craving for homemade body butter. It may have something to do with an email I got yesterday from The Body Shop asking me to “Indulge in Chocomania: it’s Sinfully Good and Totally Guilt Free”. Guilt free? Really? Not when I am spending what is literally my entire week’s entertainment budget on lotions and potions that smell like the food I would be buying if I had any money left!

So I went out exploring in my neighborhood and bought some pure shea butter and cocoa butter. And then, I made my own, deliciously decadent body butter and I am not exaggerating in the least when I say that the smell, texture, and look of it had me giggling, smiling and babbling excitedly.

The first whiff of it was absolute, pure delight. Try it and you’ll see what I mean!

Equipment:

A double boiler or a microwave

Hand-held mixer or whisk

One medium bowl and one large, deep bowl

Jars to put the body butter in

Ingredients:

(All the ingredients I used were organic)

100 ml pure Cocoa butter

50 ml pure Shea butter

2 tbsp Vitamin E oil (at least 2000o IU)

3 tbsp Sweet Almond Oil

1/4 to 1/2 tsp Vanilla Essence or Vanilla Oil

1 Tbsp Mineral Water

Method:

You can buy cocoa butter in the form of “chips”, or in a jar. If you buy it in a jar, you might have to place the jar in warm water for a bit, just to soften it up a bit, before you take it out. I placed both the shea butter and cocoa butter jars in a bowl of warm water in the sink for about 5 minutes.

Now measure out the cocoa butter and shea butter into the medium bowl and place it in the microwave. I would heat it on a very low setting (time defrost) for about 20 seconds at a time, checking on it periodically. You want the butters all melted and looking like this:

It’s important to do this carefully as you don’t want to overheat the butters. Once the butter-mixture is nice and melted, stir it a bit and place it in the freezer for 5 minutes to cool down. Then, add the sweet almond oil and vitamin e oil, stir and put the mixture back in the freezer for another 5 minutes or so, until the mixture has firmed up. Once firm, take it out, add a tablespoon of water and using the hand held mixer or whisk, beat the mixture.

At this stage in the process, I was taking in the wonderful smell when I realized the only thing that would make this smell better would be vanilla essense. Since I bake a lot, I had some lying about, and so I added 1/4 tsp to the mixture and whipped it up into a wonderful, light, creamy and delicious smelling mixture 🙂 When I smelt it, I felt it needed some more vanilla, so I added another quarter teaspoon. On a side-note, I would have used vanilla oil if I had some around because vanilla extract has alcohol (which dries the skin). However, if you don’t have any lying about, I am sure the essence is fine, since you’re using such a small quantity of it.

When you feel it’s suitably fluffy and you’re happy with the texture, scoop the mixture into clean, dry jars!

And there it is, your very own, delicious body butter that will have you smelling like something you want to eat. I am not sure why I want to smell like something I’d eat, I just do! It makes me wildly happy and if this sounds like the sort of thing that makes YOU cheerful, go ahead and give it a go- it’s easy!

Categories
Chocolate Chocolate Truffles Food Recipes

Cointreau Chocolate Truffles

Cointreau chocolate truffles

This was my latest chocolate experiment: Cointreau Truffles!

How did I settle on this particular flavour? Well, I bought a whole bottle of Cointreau at the Delhi International Airport last month you see. And today, wanting to make a new type of truffle I looked about my kitchen, and my eyes fell upon the bottle. I was torn between trying out Cointreau truffles and red wine truffles; in the end this seemed like a better bet. It turned out to be a good choice; they were delicious!

 

Equipment you will need:

A cutting board and knife OR a food processor

2 medium-sized bowls

A grater or citrus peeler or vegetable peeler

2 plates

Parchment sheet or wax paper (at a pinch, you could use aluminium foil)

Little paper cups to put the truffles in, preferably orange paper cups

Silicone Chocolate Mold (optional)

 

Ingredients:

8 Oz (approx 225 g) good dark chocolate (at least 70-80 % cocoa solids)

1/2 cup cream (whipping cream in Canada or heavy cream or double cream elsewhere)

2 pinches of salt

1 tbsp Cointreau (you could probably also use Grand Marnier)

1 orange

A few tbsp of cocoa powder

 

Method:
1.Peel or grate the rind/peel of the orange. Get the half cup of cream to a gentle simmer and immediately turn off the heat. Add the orange zest to the cream and let it steep for about an hour.

2. In the meantime, chop up the chocolate on a cutting board into fine pieces with a large knife. This is the tiresome part of the recipe. I have a food processor, so I just break the chocolate up into individual squares and then throw it into the processor. The reason you want the chocolate broken up into fine bits is because you want it all to melt evenly when you pour in the hot cream. Throw the chocolate bits into a bowl.

Chopped up chocolate to make a ganache

3. Once the orange peel has steeped in the cream for about an hour, re-heat the cream again to a gentle simmer, and pour the hot cream through a strainer into the bowl with the chocolate. Using a ladle, make sure all the chocolate is covered by the cream.

Making a chocolate ganache for chocolate truffles

4. Let it sit for 2-3 minutes. Then add the Cointreau and salt, and delicately fold the mixture. It’s important not to be rough because then you will get air bubbles into the chocolate. That wouldn’t be good as you want the chocolate to taste smooth and rich. You might also break the ganache (see this post for more on this).

Gently mixing the chocolate ganache

Chocolate ganache

5. Once you have a smooth mixture (this is called chocolate ganache), place the bowl in the fridge for about half an hour, until it firms up. The length of time you will need to leave it in the fridge will depend on the temperature inside your fridge, so keep checking on it. You want the ganache to be just firmed up, but not hard.

How to shape chocolate truffles

(That cow looks like she wants some of that delicious ganache :P)

6. In the meantime, take out the plates and place a sheet of parchment or wax paper on each of them. Once the chocolate mixture is ready, take it out of the fridge and spoon out the chocolate in small portions onto the parcement or wax paper. The portions should be approximately the size you want the truffles to be.

Making assorted chocolate truffles

(As you can see, at this stage, things look pretty messy, but that’s ok. You will be able to roll them about in your hands and slowly work them into fairly smooth and nice looking spheres.)

7. Now, roll each scoop/portion of chocolate about in your hand until it is more or less spherical, then place it back on the parchment. I would recommend washing your hands periodically, while you do this, as you will get chocolate all over them, and it will be more difficult to shape the truffles if you’ve got melted chocolate on your hands. Also, the washing will help to cool your hands. The truth is, I have to wash my hands periodically anyway because I can’t resist licking some of the chocolate off every once in a while 😉

Masala chai/black-tea flavoured truffles

8. Once you’ve shaped all the truffles, take another bowl and put about 2 tbsp of cocoa powder in it. Take each truffle in your hand, roll it about for a second or two, just enough to warm the surface and then roll the truffle in the cocoa powder, until it is covered. Finally, place it in a paper cup. Repeat until all the truffles are done. I’ve heard it being said that this process can be messy and/or arduous; I didn’t think it was either. This was the sum-total of the mess I made:

Making chocolate truffles is not messy!

This is how your truffles should look:

Cointreau Chocolate Truffles

9. If you don’t like the slightly rustic look of the cocoa, you can also dip the shaped truffles into melted chocolate. That is, once you’ve shaped the truffles in Step 7, skip Step 8. Instead, place the truffles in the fridge to firm up and, in the meantime, melt some dark chocolate in a double boiler or a fondue pot. Then dip the firmed up truffles in the melted chocolate, and place the truffle on a tray lined with parchment or wax paper. Let the chocolate harden and enjoy!

Cointreau truffles coated in dark chocolate

You could sprinkle some ground almonds on top to compliment the orange-y flavour 🙂

Cointreau truffles

10. You can also make more professional looking truffles if you have a silicone mould, like this one:

Silicone mold for truffles

All you have to do with a mould like this is pour the ganache directly into it right after Step 4. Then place the mould in the refrigerator or freezer until the chocolate firms up, then pop the chocolates out of the mould.

Cointreau chocolate truffles

You can put the truffles in the fridge for two to three weeks.

They make for a great present, just put them in a nice box and voilà, you have a handmade personalized present! I, for one, know my mother would love this; if only she and I were in the same country 😦 I will make her a box for when she visits me though 🙂

I also like to make up a box of assorted flavours:

Homemade truffles as a gift

If you’d like to try making a box of assorted chocolates, you could look for recipes on the Internet, or just be playful and invent your own. Here are some of my own recipes: basic dark chocolate truffles, masala chai truffles, sugar-coated truffles with orange-cream cheese centres, truffles with cream cheese centres, or truffles with mint butter-cream centres.
Or look at this detailed post about how to make multiple flavoured truffles for a gift box.

Have fun truffling 🙂

Categories
Chocolate Chocolate Truffles Cooking Food General Recipes

Basic Dark Chocolate Truffles

So by now, I think it is fairly obvious that I love chocolate. However, truth be told, I’ve become sick of all the usual chocolate you can buy at the drug-store or supermarket- the likes of Lindt, Ghirardelli, Cadburys etc. I even, to be honest, am sort of over store-bought hazelnut butter- a.k.a. Nutella.

No hell has not frozen over, and no I have not been kidnapped by someone who is now pretending to be me on my blog so people don’t report me missing (if you are someone who is considering kidnapping me by the way, this tactic will never work, I talk to my parents and some close friends virtually everyday, so I would be reported missing if I didn’t answer my phone in 2 hours max.) “But Nutella is AWESOME” you exclaim or if you’re my mother or father, which you probably are if you’re reading this, you heave a sigh of relief, because until now you thought I was going to develop heart disease and diabetes and god knows what else at the very tender age of 29.

But don’t get too excited dear parents, I am NOT giving up chocolate. I am saying I am over this store-bought stuff because it’s too sweet and frankly not very good chocolate. If I could, I’d go eat pralines and truffles from Soma (this amazing chocolate store in the distillery district in Toronto) or Leonidas or Patchi or some other chocolate store that knows what they’re doing. BUT, the problem is, I couldn’t possibly afford to- considering how much chocolate I guzzle on a daily basis and considering I am but a poor doctoral candidate.

NOW I finally have the solution to this problem. Handmade, homemade truffles! And now that I’ve figured out how to make them, I simply cannot understand how I was ever able to eat that rubbish they call chocolate in supermarkets and drugstores.

In addition these truffles are the answer to my goldilocks-type problem with chocolate. My problem with most dark chocolate is that it’s not as creamy as milk chocolate; my problem with milk chocolate is that it isn’t chocolatey enough. Happily, one of the things that makes truffles magical is that they can be rich, creamy and smooth and ALSO have a strong chocolatey flavour.

If you’d like to discover true happiness as well, keep reading, because what follows, is a detailed narrative of how to make basic dark chocolate truffles.

Equipment you will need:

A cutting board and knife OR a food proccessor

2 medium sized bowls

2 plates

Parchment sheet or foil

Little paper cups to put the truffles in

Ingredients:

8 Oz (approx 225 g) good dark chocolate (at least 70-80 % cocoa solids)

1/2 cup cream (whipping cream in Canada or heavy cream or double cream elsewhere)

A dollop of butter (at room temp)

2 pinches of salt

1 tsp vanilla essence

A few tbsp of Cocoa powder

Method:

Chop up the chocolate on a cutting board into fine pieces with a large knife. This is the tiresome part of the recipe. I have a food processor, so I just break the chocolate up into individual squares and then throw it into the processor. The reason you want the chocolate broken up into fine bits is because you want it all to melt when you pour in the hot cream.

Throw the chocolate bits into a bowl. Next, get the half cup of cream just to a boil and immediately turn off the heat and pour the hot cream into the bowl with the chocolate. Using a ladle, make sure all the chocolate is covered by the cream.

Let it sit for 2-3 minutes and then delicately fold the mixture. It’s important not to be rough because then you will get air bubbles into the chocolate. That wouldn’t be good as you want the chocolate to taste smooth and rich.

Add the dollop of butter, vanilla essence and salt and mix gently. Place the bowl in the fridge for about an hour, until it firms up. In the meantime take out the plates and place two sheets of parchment or foil on them. Once the chocolate mixture is ready take it out of the fridge and spoon out the chocolate in small portions onto the parcement or foil. The portions should be approximately the size you want the truffles to be.

Place the plates in the fridge again for about 15 mins. Take the truffles out when they’re firmed up again and roll them about in your hand until they’re more or less spherical, then place them back on the parchment. You can also try to shape them as tear drops- but good luck with that, it’ll take patience. This part of the process is so much fun! I love it because the chocolate looks and smells delicious. I would recommend washing your hands periodically in between, as you will get chocolate all over them, and it will be more difficult to shape the truffles if you’ve got melted chocolate on your hands. Also, the washing will help to cool your hands.

Once you’ve shaped all the truffles, take another bowl and put about 2 tbsp of cocoa powder in it. Take each truffle in your hand, roll it about for a second or two, just enough to warm the surface and then roll the truffle in the cocoa powder, until it is covered. Then place it in a paper cup. Repeat until all the truffles are done.

Mmmm they will taste delicious. You can put them in the fridge for two weeks or more, but take them out a few hours before you serve them- so that they’re at room temperature.

These basic truffles were so good, that I’ve tried quite a few variations too, such as, dark chocolate truffles with hazelnut butter-cream filling; truffles with a hazelnut centre that are coated with toasted, crushed hazelnuts; and dark chocolate truffles with a hint of orange. I will post pictures and recipes of these variations soon!