Christmas chocolate truffles – two ways

I just love Christmas. Basically, it’s a great big excuse to bake and make all the things I love to eat, but don’t normally allow myself to have. But when Christmas rolls around there is NO holding me back – I am going to indulge!!

Normally I make the Christmas Pudding truffles that Nigella Lawson calls Puddini Bonbons, and they are lovely, in fact they are just about the only way you are ever going to get me eating Christmas pudding (I despise dried fruit… but don’t get me started on that!).

This year however, I’m kindly giving Gordon Ramsey a turn. I took his Chocolate Mint Truffle recipe and divided it up into two basic recipes – a mint version, and an orange, brandy and pecan version.

chocolate mint truffles
My truffle tin runeth over… thanks Gordon!

 

The truffles get their flavour from steeping fresh mint in gently heated cream. I did the same for the orange version by adding orange zest to the cream and gently heating it. Once the flavoured cream was hot (but nowhere near boiling) I poured it over chopped chocolate, butter and honey. For the orange version I also added brandy and chopped pecans.

Once the chocolate, butter and honey have melted into the cream, the whole lovely smooth dark mess goes into the fridge to firm up. It took about two hours before the mixture was firm enough to roll into little balls. Then I rolled the balls in good quality dutch-processed cocoa, and voila – these little balls of deliciousness are ready for eating!

Helpful Mr Ramsey suggests keeping the truffles in the fridge and warns they won’t keep longer than a few days… but with me around, slyly popping one into my mouth each time I pass by the fridge, I don’t think that’s going to be a problem.

Nigella’s Gingerbread recipe

This is a very dense cake, rather than a gingerbread biscuit (or “cookie”). If you like sweet, rich gingery flavours, you’ll love this!

Nigella’s Gingerbread (from ‘How To Be A Domestic Goddess)

Nigella's gingerbread is moist and tasty!

150g butter
125gm dark sugar
200gm golden syrup
200gm black treacle (or molasses for a really dark cake)
2 tsp fresh ginger (finely grated)
1 tsp ground cinnamon
250ml milk
2 large eggs, beaten
1 tsp baking soda
2 tbsp warm water
300gm plain flour

Preheat the oven to 170c/gas mark 3. In a saucepan, melt the butter, sugar, golden syrup, treacle (or molasses), ginger and cinnamon. Once the butter has melted take the pan off the heat and leave it to cool slightly, while you dissolve the soda in the water, and add that the the beaten eggs and milk. Combine the milk mixture with the sugar mixture. Sift the flour into the wet ingredients and mix well until smooth – it is a very liquid batter. Pour into a greased tin (roughly 30cm x 20cm) and bake for around 45 minutes, until the cake has risen and is firm. Be careful not to overcook it, as it really is best when it’s still sticky, and it will continue to cook slightly once it’s out of the oven.

Nigella suggests icing it with lemon icing, but I like it just the way it is – unadulterated gingeryness at its best!