Saturday, December 10, 2011
Homemade candy recipes: fruit and nut truffles
There's a candy I remember from my childhood. Our main chocolate factory, Kalev, was (and probably still is) well-known for its chocolate selections or "assortiikarp" as they're known in Estonian. I loved their ganache and praline filled chocolates in those chocolate selections, but my favourite ones were the foil-wrapped large truffles with fruit and nut filling.
Here's my attempt to recreate these childhood favourites :) You can see the final product on the left on the photo above.
Fruit and Nut Filled Truffles
100 g dried soft figs
150 g dried soft prunes
100 g dried cranberries or cherries (or a mixture of both)
100 g chopped almonds or hazelnuts
1 Tbsp runny honey or golden syrup or agave nectar
a pinch of sea salt
to coat the truffles:
dark chocolate (tempered, preferably)
Remove the stem from the dried figs. If using a food processor, place the figs, prunes and dried cranberries or cherries into the food processor and process until you've got a coarsely ground fruit mixture. Add the almonds/nuts, salt and honey/syrup and pulse again once or twice. (You don't want the nuts chopped too finely, as you want the texture later).
[You can also simply chop the ingredients as finely as possible]
Place the truffle mixture into the fridge for an hour to cool and harden.
Roll into small balls (TIP: use a little oil to moisten your hands - the mixture won't stick as much then.)
Either dip into melted dark chocolate - or, preferably, into tempered dark chocolate (see note below) until completely covered. Decorate with chopped nuts. Keep in a cool place until ready to serve.
Why and how to temper the chocolate? The Internet - and food blogs - are full of detailed instructions on how to temper chocolate - and why. The latter is easy - unless you temper the chocolate, the chocolate-glazed truffles will lack the shine and the snap, both very desirable elements. "How" is trickier and indeed, tempering can be a hit-and-miss. I've followed this simplified seed-technique for tempering. Place about 2/3 of your chopped up chocolate (or, indeed, chocolate pellets - and NOT compound chocolate!) into a heat-proof bowl and place the bowl on top of a small saucepan, where you've brought about 5 cm/2 inches of water into simmer. Let the chocolate melt slowly, stirring as you go along. Remove from the heat, stick a chocolate thermometer into the bowl. Now add the "seed chocolate" or the chocolate you put aside at the beginning in two or three installments and keep stirring the chocolate and cooling it. Once all the added chocolate pellets have melted, you must continue stirring the chocolate, until it registers 28 C on the thermometer - that will probably take about 15-20 minutes of active stirring, so be patient! You can then gently re-heat the chocolate - either over the waterbath, on top of a hot water bottle or by hovering your hair-drier over the chocolate - until it's about 30-31 C (best temperature for working with chocolate).