Christmas means something different to everyone. For some, it is about the birth of Jesus. For others, it is the only time of year their family comes together. For me, Christmas has been about the traditions that continue from year to year – largely baking traditions.
For me, Christmas was the time of year that I worked in a bakery over the summer holidays. We would make gingerbread houses and fruit mince tarts, chocolate truffles, White Christmas slice, chocolate puddings and traditional Christmas puddings. We were like Santa’s elves working away, singing along to carols, to create something special for families all over our area.
But time moves on, and I no longer have 3 months to spend over summer baking. And ever since, Christmas has not been quite so Christmassy. To capture that spirit again, I love to bake something special for my friends and family. Baked treats are wonderful gifts. They show time, effort and care, and they are also delicious. Instead of buying treats, which can get a bit pricey and aren’t quite as thoughtful, try your hand at making something sweet this year.
I think these are very cute and you don’t often see something like this in the shops. You can choose any flavor combination that takes your fancy, and decorate as you please. I love making these little truffles look like Christmas puddings.
I have chosen to make chocolate and coffee, and white chocolate and orange flavoured ones, but you can substitute any liqueur, or any flavoured chocolate or cake to make what you’d like. Replace the liqueur with rum and the mud cake with fruitcake to make a more traditional pudding truffle. You could roll these in marzipan for more tradition, or dip in chocolate. Trade liqueur for orange juice or espresso for child-friendly or work-friendly varieties.
The great thing about these is that you can really have them at any time of the year. I made a lovely white chocolate with pistachios and Turkish delight for my sister, which was the same as the white chocolate recipe, except some chopped pistachios and chopped Turkish Delight was added, and the orange liqueur was substituted for rose water essence. This could be a really nice bomboniere for a wedding, or a nice birthday surprise for a friend or family using their favourite flavours.
This one has a few tricks:
- Ensure the mixture is quite thick (add more cake or melted chocolate if necessary), or the whole thing will melt into the dipping chocolate.
- Ensure the mixture is well chilled, or again, the whole thing will melt into the dipping chocolate. Dip in batches, refrigerating the rest, if necessary.
- You may be tempted, but don’t freeze the mixture prior to dipping, this will cause the chocolate to crack when the mixture defrosts inside the chocolate. This can also occur if you freeze the dipped chocolates, too.
- Mud cake can vary quite greatly between types in moistness, which will in turn vary the consistency of your mix. Use judgment to get a thick, not-too-sticky mix by varying the quantity needed. The more moist the cake, the more you may need.
- Keep mud cake cutoffs from throughout the year and freeze until you want to make truffles. Just defrost and mix in!
- If you’re not fussed about the chocolate pudding look, after you’ve rolled and chilled the balls, you can roll them in anything you’d like, such as desiccated coconut, chocolate sprinkles, chocolate flakes, finely chopped nuts, depending on the flavor of the truffle and your preferences. This will be easier than dipping and decorating.
- Chocolate and coffee liqueur truffles(makes 24):
- 400g milk chocolate, coarsely chopped
- 500g chocolate mud cake, broken
- 200ml cream
- 80ml coffee liqueur (e.g. Tia Maria)
- White chocolate and orange liqueur truffles (makes 12):
- 100g milk chocolate, coarsely chopped
- 100 ml cream
- 40ml orange liqueur.
- 150g white chocolate mud cake
- 375g milk chocolate melts
- 250g white chocolate melts
- green and red food colour
- small white patty pans
- 3 piping bags (premade / homemade)
- Chocolate and Coffee Liqueur Truffles:
- Mix chocolate, cream and liqueur in a bowl over a pot of simmering water, until the chocolate melts. Don’t fill the pot with so much water so that it touches the bowl.
- Remove the bowl from the pot and mix in broken-up mud cake, until well distributed.
- Chill for 2-3 hours or overnight, until firm and thick.
- Line a large baking tray with baking paper.
- Remove mix from fridge and scoop out about 1.5 tablespoons of mixture from bowl. Roll between your hands to form a small ball. It should be just smaller than a golf ball. Place on the baking paper, in rows, and repeat until all of the mixture is gone.
- Refrigerate mixture for at least 2 hours to firm up again.
- White chocolate and orange liqueur truffles:
- Repeat steps as for the milk chocolate and coffee liqueur truffles, keeping mixtures separate to ensure the white chocolate mix stays pure white.
- Melt milk chocolate melts in a medium-small bowl in the microwave, in bursts of 30 seconds, stirring between melting, until melted.
- Resting the truffle on top of a fork, lightly place the ball into the melted chocolate. Roll over a few times if necessary to completely cover the ball.
- Using the fork, lift the truffle from the melted chocolate. Lightly tap the fork on the side of the bowl to remove excess chocolate.
- Slide the truffle from the fork onto a cooling rack, which has a sheet of baking paper beneath it. The baking paper will catch all of the chocolate left overs for neatness or reuse.
- Repeat with the next ball until your cooling rack is full or all of the balls are dipped.
- Using a small palate knife when the chocolate is almost set, lift the chocolate ball into a patty pan. Repeat with remaining balls. Be careful not to use your hands to pick up the chocolate balls when they are not quite set, as you will leave finger prints, never to be erased. A palate knife and a clean fork if necessary should be sufficient.
- Repeat decorating steps with white melts and the white chocolate balls, being careful to clean surfaces of milk chocolate before beginning white chocolate phase.
- Retain left over melted white chocolate. Pour 2-3 tablespoons of melted white chocolate into a piping bag. Snip the end off to make a fine tip.
- Over the milk chocolate balls, pipe a star-shaped blob – to resemble custard. Repeat for all balls.
- When white chocolate blobs have set, divide remaining white chocolate into two small bowls. Colour one with red colouring, and the other with green colouring.
- Use the next piping bag with a fine tip, fill with green chocolate to pipe two leaves of holly on each ball, on top of the “custard”. Make the points of the holly quite pronounced to capture the shape.
- When holly is firm, use the last piping bag, filled with red chocolate and put two small dots in between the holly. These are your berries.