Autumn is just that time of year when there is lots of foraging about. This is one of my favourite recipes ever because, although it involves a bit of foraging it is also a completely luxurious and hedonistic treat. This year there are quite a few hazulnuts around if you can get to them before the squirrels.
I haven’t picked a great deal yet, just just picked up about 20 or so on the way home for this treat. Firstly, crack them open and keep the good ones, discarding any that are discoloured because they have a bitter taste. I crush them up with a rolling pin and then chop them on a board so there is a selection of fine and chunky bits. Then I put them in a frying pan with a bit of butter and sugar and just fry them for a minute to bring out the flavour. The sugar sets inside the truffles and gives a lovely bit of crunchy texture.
Next I set about melting the chocolate in a home-made bain-marie, basically just a heatproof glass bowl in a saucepan of water. I didn’t choose any particularly special chocolate because the village stores doesn’t have a great choice, but given a choice I would always go for plain in truffles – but that is just to taste. I would love to try this with some 100% Criollo chocolate but this works just fine. Don’t overheat and catch the chocolate just when it has melted – at the same temperature as blood – which just proves how chocolate is made for humans!
Then I added the nuts mix into the chocolate and stirred it in, switching off the heat whilst I whipped up some double cream. Then spoon the double cream into the warm chocolate and nut mix, lifting with the spoon so as not to take the air out of the whipped cream. You can go as far as half and half of each but I think this makes the truffles a bit sloppy. I prefer mine with a bit of bite to them so use about one third cream to two thirds chocolate. Then put the mix in the fridge to set for a couple of hours. By all means keep checking it every half an hour so you can try a bit. You can also set this mix as a base for a very interesting dessert.
When the mix has hardened off, spoon out small amounts and roll them quickly into a ball shape – dropping them into chocolate powder eg drinking chocolate or cocoa. There is a nack to this and it is best to do it with really cold hands! If you want to finish them – put them into little paper cases as shown. They don’t keep for very long but I am sure you will have no problem finding somebody to share them with!