Dark chocolate truffles aka a stupidly easy way to win friends

For once in this whole blogging thing I am being super organised as opposed to my usual writing up recipes weeks after they have been eaten. Why? Christmas is coming! I am fully aware we have a full month to Christmas at the time this post is to be published but this recipe would make the perfect thing to take to a Christmas meal, or to give as a gift to a real chocoholic. I made these for a Friday night gathering at my friend RP’s house and they finished off a delicious meal nicely.

The truffle filling on this is rich but not too sweet. This recipe is easy enough for even notice cooks to follow. However, you will need to make these with enough time for the ganache to set. An extra pair of hands is also very helpful (and makes truffle making all the more fun). Ed helped me roll out the cooled ganache and decorate these (she was far more particular about the shape of the truffles than me!).

To make these you will need

For the ganache

200ml extra thick double cream

200g dark chocolate (I used 70% cocoa)

40g butter

To decorate

100g vanilla infused white chocolate

100g milk chocolate

Sea salt (optional)

Cocoa powder

 

Break up your dark chocolate into small pieces in a medium sized bowl.

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Don’t be tempted to nibble or your ganache might not set properly

Heat your butter and cream together until the butter is melted. Add this to your dark chocolate and beat until all the chocolate is melted into the cream.

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This cream looks positively sinful

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Chocolatey goodness

Leave your ganache to cool overnight. If you’re short of time 3 hours should be sufficient.

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Use a teaspoon to portion out your ganache and roll into bite sized balls onto greaseproof paper.

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Ed’s beautiful hands!

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To decorate melt your white and milk chocolate. I made white chocolate coasted truffles, milk chocolate and sea salt truffles and cocoa dusted truffles. For the chocolate coated truffles use a cocktail stick (or bamboo skewer) to dip your truffles into the chocolate. I added a few crystals of sea salt to the milk chocolate truffles but they’d work without if you don’t like mixing salty and sweet flavours. When you run out of chocolate you can either run out to the shops to buy more or dust the remaining truffles with cocoa powder.

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Once the chocolate on your truffles has set place in a pretty container (or a giftbox if you’re feeling fancy!)

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Griddled prawns

Everyone has to have a few recipes up their sleeve that looks super impressive but takes less than 5 minutes to cook. This is one of those recipes. It can be easily scaled up depending on the number of people, and works as a simple starter or as a light meal.

Griddling is a wonderful cooking technique in that is adds a wonderful charred flavour to any food and you don’t need much oil to cook in a griddle pan. This recipe can be done with prawns that have already been shelled if picking away prawn shells doesn’t sound too appealing.

To make this you will need:

Your desired number of raw prawns

Fry light or similar

1 large clove of garlic

A chilli

A griddle pan

Half a lemon

 

Put your griddle pan on a high heat. Spritz with your oil or fry light. Crush over your garlic clove and slice over the chilli and heat until both are fragrant.

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Place your prawns in the pan and grill until both sides are pink and slightly charred. Drizzle over some lemon juice mid way through cooking.

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Serve with whatever you fancy.

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Sometimes simple and effective is all you need.

Coconut frangipane lime tarts (and mini tarte tatin)

As you may have gathered from the limited number of pie recipes on my blog, homemade pastry is really not my strong point. After a food technology lesson when I was about 13 which resulted in pastry that would just not bind together I pledged my allegiance to Jus Roll more or less (except when it comes to baking club and baking with friends). Enter my Dad, a man who has no fear when it comes to pastry making. Apparently all you need is a food processor (never fear my fellow warm handed friends; you too can make excellent pastry!)

Anyway, this pastry recipe makes enough for one large tart, plus 2 smaller tarts, you need to factor in time for your pastry to chill when making this, I really would recommend leaving your pastry to chill for at least half an hour. It is important not to let the pastry get warm. The below pastry recipe is intended to be used to make pâte brisée which, when cooked, produces a thin crisp shell which is an excellent carrier for both sweet and more savoury recipes.

To make the above tarts you will need:

For the pastry

250g plain flour

125g butter cut into small cubes

2 egg yolks

1 level teaspoon salt

3.5 – 4 tablespoons cold water

For the frangipane

100g butter

100g caster sugar

1 egg plus 1 egg yolk

100g dessicated coconut

2 level tablespoons flour

The zest of 2 limes and the juice of 1 lime

For tarte tatin

2 apples per tart

A good sized chunk of butter

caster sugar

 

Put your flour, butter and eggs into your food processor (with the knife blade attachment) and mix until breadcrumbs are formed.

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In a separate container dissolve your salt in your cold water. Gradually add the water to your breadcrumbs while mixing until your pastry starts to bind.

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Put the dough into a plastic food bag and press together until the pastry has bound. Then put the dough in the fridge to chill for at least 30 minutes.

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Grease your larger tart tin with a good amount of butter, generally in baking I would recommend proper butter but spreadable butter is fine for greasing tins.

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Roll out the pastry (you shouldn’t use flour for this step, the pastry is so cold it won’t stick much). It should take quite a lot of effort to roll the dough out as it is cold. If your pastry starts to stick to your board but it in the fridge to chill for a few minutes. Line your tart tin with the pastry and use a sharp knife to trip off any excess from the sides. If you have any bare patches in the tin press in some of your excess pastry and trim it. To prevent the pastry from rising when cracking use a fork to prick the base of the tart several times. Keep the remainder of the pastry back for your apple tarts.

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Preheat your oven to 200°C. To make your coconut frangipane put the butter and caster sugar in your clean food processor (apparently washing up as you go along while baking is a thing!). Mix until it looks pale and fluffy.

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Add your egg and egg yolk to the mix. Then add your coconut and the lime zest and juice.

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Spread the frangipane in an even layer over your pastry and bake for around 15 minutes until everything is golden brown. If the pastry starts to brown too fast turn the oven down to 180°C.

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Once baked dust with icing sugar and serve with cream or ice cream.

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To make the tarte tatin first line your tart tins with foil to prevent losing all the apple juices when cooking.

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Peel and slice your apples. Melt your butter in a frying pan, add the apples and cover in sugar. Cook until the apples are soft and the sugar has caramelised.

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Put the apple in the tart tins and cover with a thin pastry lid with a steam hole.

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Bake at 200°C until golden brown, again turn the oven down to 180°C if the pastry browns too fast.

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Remember to resist the urge to strut too much if your pastry is a success. Perfect pastry and modesty is always a winning combination.