A Sweet Treat

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February 24th, 2010

No need to feel guilty about these truffles. They’re made with pure and wholesome, 100% natural ingredients. Each ingredient is part of a healthy diet: sweet Georgia pecans, heavenly dark chocolate, Medjool dates, real Canadian maple syrup and freshly squeezed orange juice.

Many truffle recipes call for high fat, high calorie manufacturing or whipping cream…but not this one. The secret? Dates! In addition to increasing the overall nutrition, they’re the backbone in this recipe when it comes to texture and mouth-feel.

Another ingredient often called for in truffles is corn syrup. Any time I see corn syrup in an ingredient list, I automatically use pure maple syrup instead.  It’s an even swap.  If the recipe calls for one cup of corn syrup, use one cup of maple syrup instead. Every single ingredient in a recipe should stand on its own flavor-wise. Corn syrup is never included in a recipe because it tastes good – it’s there to thicken and sweeten.  Maple syrup is lower in calories than corn syrup or honey and it’s layered with nutrition, making it the perfect substitution.

Because chocolate is the primary flavor and ingredient in this recipe, it’s important to use the very best chocolate you can get your hands on. Thanks to its growing popularity, superior brands of chocolate are available everywhere; specialty kitchen shops such as Sur La Table and Williams Sonoma, gourmet grocery stores, Trader Joes, Whole Foods and even fine department stores!

The Dating Game: Choose your dates carefully- one that is high quality and very freshly dried. They ripen by shriveling up, and the more shriveled and moist they are, the better! My favorite dates are Fancy Jumbo Mejool. They’re pricey so keep your eye open for specials. They keep well in the freezer and can last several months.

31 Flavors: My philosophy is that less is more when it comes to the ingredient list, so I don’t add anything. But if you’re a fan of flavored chocolate, you can add any flavor component you like – an extract, espresso, Grand Marnier, cherry liqueur etc. Use 1 liquid Tablespoon and no more than 3-4 drops if you’re using an extract.

The Best of Both Worlds: If you’re undecided – flavored truffles or plain – flavor some of the truffles by dividing the mixture into several containers. Add the flavor ingredient when the recipe prompts you and proceed with the instructions as written.

Get a Jump Start: Once you form the truffles, the recipe calls for you to dip them in warm chocolate. For that reason, I’ll often prepare the truffles the night before I’m serving these. It lessens the work load and it’s really fun to serve freshly dipped truffles to family and friends.

That’s a Wrap: You can experiment with the inside and outside of these truffles. The final stage of the recipe calls for you to dip the truffles in melted chocolate and then roll them in cocoa powder (be sure it’s Dutch-process such as Droste or Hershey’s European brand). I’ve dipped these truffles in toasted and chopped pistachios, chopped pecans and coconut flakes with great success and to rave reviews.

Bittersweet Chocolate Truffles

Click for larger image

Click for larger image

Ingredients

Centers

  • 1/2  cup pecans, toasted
  • 4 oz. bittersweet chocolate
  • 2 cups dates, pitted and chopped
  • 2 Tablespoons pure maple syrup
  • 1 Tablespoon orange juice, just squeezed
  • 1 Tablespoon Grand Manier or other liqueur optional

Coating

  • 8 oz. premium quality bittersweet chocolate
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder, sifted

Instructions

To prepare the centers, melt 4 oz. of bittersweet chocolate in a double boiler over gently simmering water until completely melted, stirring only once or twice. Set aside.

Chop the dates by hand or you can chop them in the food processor, but they may be a bit sticky.

If you are using a food processor, place the pecans in with the dates and pulse. Add the melted chocolate, Maple syrup, orange juice and liqueur; pulse until the mixture just comes together. Alternatively, you can mix the ingredients together by hand in a medium mixing bowl.

To form and coat the truffles, prepare the coating: melt the remaining 8 oz. of bittersweet chocolate over a double boiler of gently simmering water and cool to about 90°.

While the chocolate is cooling, form the truffles. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper. Form the truffles into small tiny bite sized balls.

Form an assembly line. Place the cookie sheet of truffles to the left of you. Place the melted chocolate in front of you and have the sifted cocoa to the right of you  To the far right have a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper and or paper truffle cups ready to place the coated truffles.

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