It’s unfortunate that my Christmas spreadsheet (yes, it’s true, and I’m sorry) usually has an appendix at the bottom which reads “teachers, brownie leaders, Mr Horn etc” and nothing further written. Which means that the last morning of term of the 9yo’s music lessons, we grabbed the bottle of red wine on the counter and stuck it in a bag for Mr Horn as we were heading out the door. And tonight, the last of the brownies and rainbows for this session, I again left it to the (almost) last minute.
I’d been to C0stc0 but, you know, I just couldn’t bring myself to spend £12 on 12 tiny plastic jars of sweet-shop sweeties. And I couldn’t really afford to buy the stuff that would be nice gifts – there are, after all, twelve helpers across both groups. So instead of making dinner tonight, I was making truffles. These mixtures make a fair amount – definitely 25, and maybe even up to 30 or 40, depending on how small or large you make them.
White chocolate, rose and pistachio cups
200g white chocolate
100 ml double cream
rosewater or other flavouring
Break up the white chocolate and put in a bowl in the oven at the very, very lowest heat. You don’t necessarily want to melt it, just soften slightly. Put the double cream in a milk pan on the hob and bring to the boil then switch off. Let it cool ever so slightly, then stir in a teaspoon of rosewater. Not too much or it’ll taste a bit soapy. If you don’t like rose, just miss this out, or substitute a different taste – I expect malibu would be amazing, or white rum, even. Now, pour the cream over the chocolate and stir until the chocolate is all melted and the mix is combined. Plop teaspoons or so into little petit fours paper cups more or less to the top. Whizz the pistachios to gritty dust, and sprinkle over the cups. Pat the pistachio down so it sticks, then put the cups in the fridge to harden.
Orange and cranberry truffles
Oh man, these are rich. Soft, too, so allow plenty of time for them to firm up. If you’re extra fancy, you could dip them in melted, tempered chocolate (white would be nice), but that’s a higher level of skill than I’m at!
225g dark chocolate
195 ml double cream
80g icing sugar
tablespoon grand marnier or similar
2 handfuls craisins
zest of a small orange, really finely grated
Get the chocolate warming in the oven at super-low heat, and the milk and butter in a milk pan on the hob. Let the cream come to the boil, then switch off and allow to cool a little – if you pour boiling cream onto your chocolate, the ganache will split. Pour the hot cream over the chocolate and stir gently until melted together. Sift over the icing sugar and mix in then add the liqueur, orange zest and craisins (yes, that is a horrible word, but the product itself is pretty nice – far better than just plain dried cranberries, which can be a bit tart for my taste). Put the bowl in the fridge until it firms up. You can then roll balls in a drinking chocolate/cocoa mix, chopped nuts or even dip in chocolate. With time not on my side, though, I just dolloped soft blobs into paper cups. They then firm up in that shape quite nicely.
Ellen Ferguson’s famous liqueur truffles
These were always the big hit at the church daffodil tea and jumble sale. My friend Carole and I would buy as many as we could stretch to, and feel the thrill of underage booze consumption as we munched them. Now that I’m well over the legal drinking age, I still adore these for their rich flavour and gorgeously gritty texture thanks to the addition of ground almonds.
4oz plain chocolate, broken up
Melt these in a bowl over simmering water.
8oz icing sugar
2oz ground almonds
Meanwhile, sieve the almonds and sugar into a larger bowl.
When the chocolate mixture is melted, remove from the heat and stir in 1 tablespoon each of double cream, strong black coffee and baileys (or tia maria, brandy, rum, cointreau…you get the picture). Then form a well in the sugar-nut mix and pour in the chocolate liquid. Stir gently until it’s all mixed together. Pop the bowl in the fridge for at least an hour before rolling into small balls and coating in drinking chocolate.