Sunday, 6 May 2007

Chocolate and Apricot Truffles (egg-free, dairy-free, gluten-free)

I have always had a bit of a thing for running. In my early teens when my friends were getting sweaty behind the bike sheds, I was getting sweaty running up and down the netball pitch. Then I graduated to cross-country running, which I loved. There’s nothing like getting down and dirty in some wet and slippery mud, clad in a wrapover miniskirt and big blue gym knickers.

The school put a team of us forward for the County trials. In the bus on the way to the trials, I looked at the girl sitting next to me. Her legs were three times as long as mine and just one of her strong, muscular thighs was the size of my waist. I recall that her nickname was the ‘Jolly Green Giant’. I’m sure that must have hurt. Yet as I contemplated the competitive run ahead, I felt she deserved every mean syllable.

I came 52nd. There were 52 runners. It was not a sprint finish. I did the last lap of a sun-drenched field on my own. Crying. Actually I wasn’t quite on my own, a marshal took pity on me and ran along with me for a time, holding my hand. Then her friends told her to stop in case I got disqualified. That kind of wasn’t the issue by then.

People vary in their reactions to running, many can't seem to fathom it. Perhaps they have never had an endorphin high. If you run for long enough you suddenly get a huge buzz. It makes me grin and I feel as if I can fly. If I am running down a country lane with no-one around, I often bounce up and down and wave my hands in the air; it gets me very excited. Why pay for the hard stuff when you can put your trainers on, do the hard stuff for free and still get high? And no nasty downer the next day.

The other day I ran to music. I had loaded some new tracks onto my funky little clip and the running order was a surprise. What a fab run it was. Along came the Communards, the Wonderstuff dropped by and I caught a glimpse of Hot Chocolate. I whizzed past the Mock Turtles (they were very slow) and nodded to Bryan Adams. I’m pretty sure I saw Steppenwolf and even Robbie was there. I was a bit embarrassed when Leo Sayer showed up; I pretended I hadn’t seen him. As I ran up to my car at the end, poetic licence would have me say that I was listening to this. In fact it was this.
And after all that running and grinning and getting high, I needed a sugar rush to top it off. So I made these. Mmmmmmm!
Apricot Running Truffles (makes 45. Forty-five! That's got to be good)
I was rather startled when these turned out to be so delicious (no false modesty here). The centre is so squidgy and naughty I wondered if I'd lapsed and slipped in some hydrogenated fat. But no, it is all good stuff. With all the dark chocolate and the dried apricots, these bad boys must be rich in iron. Drink them with orange juice for the maximum iron hit.
175g dark chocolate (at least 70% cocoa solids, gluten-free, here's one )
100g dried apricots
Plus 50g dried apricots
some warm rice milk
125g dairy-free spread
3 tbsps Cointreau (or more if you wish)
4 tbsps sugar
Cocoa powder for dusting, about 4 tbsps
200g dark chocolate (at least 70% cocoa solids, gluten-free)
Pretty serving cases

  • Line two baking trays with baking parchment

  • Using a hand blender (or liquidiser?), blend the 100g of dried apricots with enough warmed rice milk to make a paste. Use as little rice milk as possible

  • Chop the remaining 50g of dried apricots into small pieces. I used scissors to chop them

  • Break the dark chocolate into small-ish pieces and place in a 'bain marie'. For the bain-marie: fill a small saucepan with about 5 cm of water, place a large bowl on top. The bowl shouldn't touch the water. Heat the water until it boils, it will melt/heat whatever is in the bowl

  • Melt the chocolate in the bain-marie, stirring from time to time so it doesn't stick. When it has melted remove from the heat. Add the dairy-free spread and beat until smooth

  • Add the apricot paste, the apricot pieces and the Cointreau

  • Add the sugar, use more or less depending on what your tastebuds are telling you

  • Whisk/beat the filling. I did it for about five minutes then got fed up and went and did something else. When I came back the mix had set and was ready to be rolled. Fantastic!

  • When the chocolatey, apricotey mix is squidgeable, sieve the cocoa powder onto a plate

  • Take a teaspoonful of the mix and roll it into a ball. You might want to dab your hands into the cocoa powder before rolling so that the mix doesn't stick to them

  • Place the balls onto the baking trays. Repeat until all the mix is used up

  • It's best to chill them overnight, but if you can't I would say at least two hours...

  • When you are ready to coat them. Melt the remaining chocolate in the bain-marie. When it has melted, remove from the heat

  • Using a spoon and your hands (only lick when you've finished), plop each ball into the melted chocolate and coat it generously. Place the coated balls back onto the baking trays. The excess chocolate will run down and give the truffles a flat bottom. (Sigh, it's what I dream of)

  • Chill for as long as possible, again, overnight is best

  • When the chocolate has set, use a knife to scrape off the excess chocolate at the base of the truffles. Or leave it on if you prefer, but they dont really fit into pretty cases unless you nip and tuck

  • Place the truffles in pretty serving cases and wow your friends. Or keep them for after your run. Or don't run, sit in front of a good film and eat as many as you wish.

  • © Pig in the Kitchen 2007
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    mutterings and meanderings said...

    Place them in serving cases for your friends? I think not - if I had done the running, I would scoff all the sweeties!

    However, M&Ms don't do running, unless they are running to persuade their grey mare to trot alongside them.

    Marianne said...

    Sounds delicious. Now I know what I'm going to do today instead of just going back to bed with yesterday's papers. Although given that my jeans are biting me, perhaps I should just go for a run instead.

    dulwichmum said...

    Darling PITK,

    I refuse to believe that with the amount of cheesecake and truffle recipies you demonstrate, that you can run anywhere at all.

    If I was to bake half of the super goodies you display on here, I would be a PITK!

    Brom said...

    California Dreaming brings be out in goosepimples. As does Dancing Queen by Abba. Powerful harmony just gets me every time. Just don't tell any of my heavy metal rock mates I told you this.

    Hmm do you think there is a market in music for joggers?? I could do with an avenue.

    Brom said...

    Mutterings: You should try it.. it's worth it for that endorphinated euphoria.

    Pig in the Kitchen said...

    M&M, you are right, if you do the pain, you should get all the gain. Now why would you run alongside your mare? Is that when someone else is sitting on her? Or is she going through a terrible twos equivalent and won't let you sit on her? Come on M&M, don't be soft!

    Marianne, welcome. I hope you did make the truffles today, and you can always run tomorrow. My jeans bite me sometimes, it's so mean when I spend so much on them.

    Dulwichmum, I CAN run, but there is a reason why only the shoes were featured in the pic...some bodies are better left to the imagination. The 'Pig' of PITK refers to the year of my chinese zodiac birth, not the size of my rump!!!!!

    Brom, I think you might be onto something...have never seen a 'Now That's What I Call Running Music' CD, perhaps your niche is there?! Starting off moderate tempo, building up to heavy thrash with sprightly pop, culminating in Rock Anthem-type stuff, so that you could end your run punching the air?! I'd buy it!

    mutterings and meanderings said...

    Brom, I think there are easier ways of getting an endorphin rush than running!

    Pig, the grey mare and I often play games when I'm leading her up from the field, or when she's in the field. They often involve me running, her following, and then she is rewarded with sweeties! Also, being able to trot 'in hand' is simply good manners for a horse.

    Pig in the Kitchen said...

    M&M, how fascinating! 'Trot in hand' what a great phrase. I wish my children would trot in hand. Are sweeties good for a horse? Would she like the truffles?

    lady macleod said...

    I don't cook, but I do run. I liked your bit about the running. Poor dear I think we have all had at least one experience of running around the track alone.

    My daughter is a cook and her fiance is allergic to milk products so i shall pass your link on to her.

    Your site is quite lovely as well.

    Pig in the Kitchen said...

    Lady Mcleod, what a joy to have someone of your royal calibre visit my blog. Much obliged Ma'am, do drop by again

    beta mum said...

    I've started jogging (not running) in the past year - as I'm finding that my advancing age makes it harder to remain at size 12 while also eating.
    As I have no desire to stop eating, I have to do more.
    My friend and I have obviously not run for long enough to get the high.
    We just get as far as the panting, sweating and feeling like death bit.

    Drunk Mummy said...

    Dear Pig,
    Presumably when Leo Sayer showed up, he was just dancing like an idiot - you could easily have outrun him.

    Pig in the Kitchen said...

    Beta Mum, well done you for running. Hmmm, the panting, feeling like death bit is a familiar feeling to me also. I find that slowing down to a near walk often helps. then just keep going at that slow pace and that runners high will get you eventually!

    DrunkMummy, the hi-pitched singing had me fooled for a while, I thought it was the BeeGees (I would have stopped to chat to them), I was raising my hand to wave, worked out who it was, pretended to scratch my head and carried on running. Now you mention it, he was twitching in a rather strange way...

    Silvana said...

    I want to take up running now!

    mutterings and meanderings said...

    Pig, the grey mare's favourite sweeties are extra strong mints. She doesn't like chocolates but she does like chocolate cake!

    One of my sister's ex-racehorses adores Mars Bars.

    Pig in the Kitchen said...

    Silvana, definitely worth the running for the 'high', the music and the truffles.

    M&M, horses and mints, that somehow seems wrong. I suppose if you're an ex-racehorse you can eat Mars Bars with no guilt.

    mutterings and meanderings said...

    Pig, I defy you to find a horse that doesn't like mints - they are quite the favourite thing for most of 'em...

    Unfortunately if George had eaten a Mars Bar before a race, and then been tested, he would have been disqualified because caffiene is a forbidden substance and Mars Bars contain lots!

    katty said...

    This blog is wonderful and interesting, i really enjoyed reading!!! i must to say the apricot is delicious and contain many vitamin. That is why i prefer to eat it frequently. Actually when i bought my house through
    costa rica homes for sale i didn´t see an apricot tree. Now i am really happy.