For someone with a terrible sweet tooth, I’m unusually restrained when it comes to chocolate. The previous two recipes, for choc chip cookies and chocolate éclairs, are pretty much how I like my chocolate baking, that is, as a highlight rather than a principal ingredient. If I’m honest, I usually find things like chocolate brownies and chocolate cake just too overpoweringly chocolatey.
Occasionally, though, nothing but a full-on chocolate hit will do and while I love all the artisan, high-percentage cocoa solid varieties, I also have a weakness for things like Mars and Snickers which are more sugar and fat than chocolate. I’m also particularly partial to white chocolate which, strictly speaking, is not really chocolate at all as it contains no cocoa solids, only cocoa butter and milk solids. It does, though, make beautiful truffles and these Cardamom and Orange White Chocolate Truffles would be a particularly gorgeous Valentine’s Day gesture.
There are two types of truffle—one made with egg yolks, another that only uses chocolate and cream. I decided to do the egg-free kind but this was the first time I’d made them and I quickly realized that you can’t substitute white chocolate in a dark chocolate truffle recipe. You need a lot less cream with white chocolate, otherwise the mixture won’t set enough to mould—and I have several bowls of Cardamom and Orange White Chocolate Sauce in my fridge to prove it.
Once you know that (and you do now, so no excuse) they’re quick to make, look beautiful boxed for a present and, most importantly, they taste wanton and voluptuous, just the right side of schmaltzy and sickly sweet. A bit like Valentine’s Day itself.
Valentine’s Day Cardamom and Orange White Chocolate Truffles
150g good-quality white chocolate (not cooking chocolate—this is for your loved one after all!)
85ml whipping cream
Zest of 1/2 orange, very finely grated
1/4 tsp cardamom seeds, freshly ground
Sieved icing sugar or cocoa powder to coat the truffles
Chop the chocolate into small pieces, then blitz in a food processor.
Put the cream, cardamom and orange zest in a small pan and bring to a boil. Immediately pour the cream on to the chocolate and blitz the mixture until it’s smooth and all the chocolate has melted. Pour the truffle mixture into a shallow dish and chill for an hour or so.
Handling the truffles needs to be done as quickly and coolly as possible—this is definitely not a hot-weather job. Run your hands under the cold tap for a minute to cool them down. Dust your hands with either the cocoa powder or icing sugar, depending on which you’re using. Use a small teaspoon to take out a cape gooseberry-sized chunk of the mixture. If it’s too soft to handle, return to the fridge for another hour. Roll the mixture quickly (or it will melt) between your hands, then roll each truffle again in either the cocoa or icing sugar. You could also roll them in melted white chocolate but you have to work quickly and make sure the mixture is very cold. Finely chopped pistachios and desiccated coconut also make pretty coatings for truffles.
Place each truffle in a small paper case, then keep in the fridge till needed. Truffles will keep happily in the fridge for about three days.