Hazelnut Truffles to Sweeten Your Holiday
These tasty treats make great gifts and create big smiles.
It is exciting to be part of Northeast Cobb Patch, and I thank you for including me as part of your community. I love all things food and have enjoyed developing my skills and knowledge over the years in my home, in commercial kitchens in and around the Atlanta area, and while participating in classes and programs at local schools. While I enjoy creating savory dishes that warm the heart and stomach, baking and pastry are where I am drawn. Nevertheless, it is my goal to bring a variety of mouth-watering recipes to the Patch each week that will prompt you to step in the kitchen. Whether a master chef in your own home, or a novice, it is important to continue to push the limits, whatever those may be, and do not fear failure. The greatest fiasco, as well as fantastic successes, can lead to the most amazing discovery. And, like everything else, it is the journey with which we discover the most. Right?
We live in a time of tremendous gastronomic discovery, with an amazing explosion of food, food awareness and resourcefulness in recent years. With the discoveries come sparks of ideas and trends, new and old. Even so, seasons, special occasions and holiday celebrations have a way of stirring up wonderful memories of family and the traditions that lead us to what we are most comfortable. As an Italian, those traditions often surrounded my family around food: Nana hand-rolling homemade pasta; Grandma making her ricotta cheesecake with peaches; or Mother rolling peanut butter truffles, laughing at herself while she noticed the balls gradually getting larger as her rolling fatigue set in.
It is important to share our traditions with those outside our inner circles. And, as parties and festivities pop up, there's always a need for edible treats. Arriving somewhere with a lovely wrapped bundle of tasty delights creates treasured opportunities for social camaraderie. These hazelnut truffles are delicious and look fancy without being difficult to make. Lucky recipients will relish in the candy's daintiness, all the while grabbing for another.
If hazelnut is not the nut of choice, peanut butter and chopped peanuts can be easily substituted. In fact, these are the peanut butter truffles I grew up with, the ones mentioned above. But, I have played with my mother's recipe over the years. Hopefully, these nutty chocolate bites will bring your family and friends the same joy my family experienced.
1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
¾ cup hazelnut spread
1 lb.(about 3 ½ cups) powdered sugar
1 cup graham cracker crumbs
1 tsp. vanilla
½ cup toasted hazelnuts, chopped finely, plus extra for garnish
1 cup coconut, finely chopped
1 ½ cups good quality semisweet or bittersweet baking chocolate, chopped
½ cup white chocolate (optional for garnish)
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or foil; set aside.
In a large mixing bowl with an electric mixer*, fitted with the paddle attachment, on medium speed, cream the butter and hazelnut spread until smooth. Add the sugar and graham cracker crumbs and mix until just combined. Add remaining ingredients. Mix until the filling comes together and begins to pull away from the bowl.
Shape mixture into 1-inch balls; place balls on prepared baking sheet. Chill for 1 hour.
Melt chocolate (see below) and remove from heat. Using a fork, quickly dip balls, one at a time, into melted chocolate. Gently tap and draw the fork across the rim of the saucepan to remove excess chocolate. Transfer truffle to the lined baking sheet. If desired, sprinkle with hazelnuts.
Melt the white chocolate. Transfer into a piping bag or baggie, trim to create a small hole, and drizzle the chocolate in a zig zag pattern. (Using a fork to drizzle will work as well.) Chill to set. Makes about 60 truffles.
To store: Place candy in an airtight container, in a single layer. Cover and store in a cool, dry place for 1 - 1½ weeks.
*A hand mixer works for mixing as well. Or, if the butter is soft enough, mix by hand.
First, chocolate chips are not recommended for melting. They are made to keep some shape during the baking process (like in chocolate chip cookies) and will seize. If taking the time to make the truffles, take the time to pick up good chocolate in pistol, coin, or block form. If in a block, be sure to cut the chocolate into similar sized for even melting.
Secondly, when melting chocolate, it is important to use gentle heat, as overheated may burn, lose flavor and/or change texture. Begin to stir the chocolate only after it has begun to melt. The frequency of the stirring will depend on the kind of chocolate being melted. For instance, milk and white chocolates should be stirred continuously during the process because of the milk solids sensitivity to heat. Dark chocolate should be stirred frequently, but not continuously.
Lastly, while it is possible to microwave chocolate, using the double boiler method is recommended. The exercise in patience is well worth the wait.
To melt the chocolate in a microwave oven:
Place coarsely chopped chocolate in a microwave-safe container and microwave at medium/50% power for 1 ½ to 3 minutes*, until the chocolate turns shiny. Remove from the microwave and stir the chocolate until completely melted. *Stir milk and white chocolates after about 1 ½ minutes, then continue.
To melt the chocolate in a double boiler:
Place coarsely chopped chocolate in the top of a double boiler over hot, not simmering, water. Melt the chocolate, stirring until smooth. Once melted, carefully remove top part of the double boiler from the bottom.
Don't have a double boiler? Fill a pot with 1 to 2 inches of water and heat over low to medium heat until the water begins to simmer. Top the pot with a Pyrex or a stainless steel bowl that has a larger diameter than the pot. The bottom of the bowl should not touch the simmering water. Place the chocolate into the bowl and the steam from the water will melt the chocolate.