I was in the hardcore chocolate aisle the other week, browsing for some chocolate that my littlest pig can eat. Not in the warm, milky chocolate place that comforts you as you eat,
‘Hussh, don’t you worry, you’re not fat. Men? Pah! Who needs them? That’s right, have another square.’
No, I was looking at the edgy chocolate with attitude,
‘Wot? Are you gonna pick me up? Don’t dawdle Lady, either pick up or move along, I don’t have time for this crap’.
When I’m in that part of the aisle I feel as though I’ve stumbled upon some weird, chocolate gambling syndicate. ‘70’. ‘I see your 70 and raise you 4’. ‘80’. ’80 and raise you 5’. I’m afraid I fold at 74% cocoa solids. Believe me, the colour and consistency of my girl’s nappy at 74% is enough. 85%? The thought makes me shudder.
Anyway, during my perusal I came across a bar of Chilli Chocolate. I was rather intrigued and had vaguely heard of that partnership before. It turned out to be quite good, but as is my arrogant wont, I thought I could do better. I can never let a recipe lie.
I first floated the idea with dear Chantal. She and I have a complicated rota of school run pick-ups and drop-offs. It all works pretty well. We just don’t mention the time I forgot to collect her daughter from school. I often confront her in a slightly crazed way as she drops off my girls, ‘Here, try this, any good?’ and hand her one of my baking attempts. I am indebted to her honesty. On one memorable occasion – my 3rd batch of gluten-free muffin attempts in 24 hours - she didn’t flinch. She snorted a little with her mouth still full, and when she finally cleared it, declared them to be ‘claggy’. God love her. She was familiar with the notion of Chilli and Chocolate, ‘Mexican isn’t it? I once had some chicken with a chocolate and chilli sauce’. I’m so glad I’m vegetarian.
The next step was to make my chocolate chilli creation. As my Mother warned me, ‘too much salt and you’ll have a jaded palate’. She was right, so I was a tad concerned when the truffles I made had a fizzly sort of effect on my asbestos tongue. 'Not to worry', I thought, I’ll try them on the lovely ladies at that lunch I’m going to. Seated comfortably in Jane’s happy kitchen, the ladies loved them. All except Clarissa, she passed hers along very politely after just one nibble. No matter, for Kathie was there, waiting to devour.
The final hurdle; my husband. He is my harshest critic. A frown, a wince, a shake of the head, I am crushed and have to go back to the weighing scales. The poor, unsuspecting man. He is used to me handing him tasty morsels and he took the truffle without a murmur. I watched closely as he bit into it and chewed appreciatively. 3-2-1, yep, there it is. He jumped as though he’d been stung. ‘Oh God, what is that? Yuk, oh bloody hell, why did you give me that?’
You see these truffles are fascinating, you bite into one and it tastes like a lovely chocolatey truffle. You chew cautiously (if you’ve been told the ingredients) and you’re just shaking your head in a ‘No, can’t taste it’ kind of a way, when it pounces. A bit of a bad ass kick to the throat and a fizzle on the tongue. Lovely.
My hubby did not think so. He declared himself to be Cross. I tried to giggle my way out of it, but he was Not Amused. He would not eat another. You get no second chances with my husband.
But you get plenty of chances with these chocolates, this recipe makes about 35.
Chocolate and Chilli Truffles (Click here for tips on how to avoid cross-contamination)
In the interests of rigorous research and providing a blog of quality, I have tried these truffles as an accompaniment to: Coffee, Tea, Red Wine and Champagne. I can confirm that they are good with all four beverages. Possibly best with the wine, but it was a photo finish with the champagne.
175g dark chocolate, gluten-free, dairy-free (this usually contains soya lecithin, if you are unsure whether you can tolerate it, check with your dietician or doctor)
125g dairy-free spread
3 tbsp cointreau/liqueur of your choice (check it's gluten-free)
2 tbsp sugar / more according to taste
Dried red wicked little chillis (see image), about 20g, but you will only use 0.5tsp
For the coating:
Approximately 200g dark chocolate
Some gluten-free cocoa powder to dust the truffles
- Place the cheeky chillis in a liquidiser and blend them until they are a fine powder. Do try not to inhale the dust, it causes havoc with your eyes and nasal passages. Also, careful as you handle it, it can burn the skin. Such a feisty character needs to be approached with caution. If you don't have a liquidiser, you could use a mortar and pestle, just make sure you get a fine powder. Set aside
- To melt the 175g of chocolate, place a small saucepan containing a little water over a medium heat and place a large heatproof bowl on top. The water shouldn't touch the base of the bowl, and you'll need to check that the water doesn't boil dry
- Place the chocolate in the bowl and stir until melted, don't let it get too hot, err on the side of very thick
- Remove molten chocolate from heat and add the dairy-free spread. Beat until you have a smooth paste, return it to the steaming pan if need be. Add the liqueur and sugar and beat again
- Add the chilli powder, use more or less depending on your taste. You might want to add it bit by bit, and keep checking the taste (Put the remaining chilli powder into an airtight container and use for your next batch!)
- Beat the mix for a few minutes (I think this makes it lighter in texture, but I'm not sure it's strictly necessary) then cover the bowl and place it in the fridge for a couple of hours to set
- The best time to mould the truffles is when the mix is still soft but not warm. You can chill the mix for longer than 2 hours, just remember to remove it at least an hour before you want to mould it
- Line a baking tray with parchment and set aside. Sieve the cocoa powder onto a plate
- Take teaspoonfuls of the mix from the bowl and roll around in your hands to form balls.
- Roll the balls in the cocoa powder until they are covered and then place on the baking tray.
- Repeat until all the mix is used up
- You could now chill these for at least 12 hours, uncovered in the fridge, or move onto the next stage
For the shell:
- Line a baking tray with baking parchment
Melt the rest of the chocolate in a saucepan as you did for the first part of the recipe. Let it cool slightly (placing the bowl in a sink of cold water will accelerate this process)
- Then take the cocoa dusted truffles and one by one drop them into the melted chocolate.
Roll them around with your fingers and use a spoon to ladle more chocolate over the bits you can't cover. Hold them above the bowl to let excess chocolate drop back in, then place the balls onto the baking tray.
- Repeat until all the truffles are covered in chocolate
- Leave the truffles to chill in the fridge. At least 4 hours, but overnight is fine
- When the chocolate is solid, each truffle will have a little flat base where the chocolate ran down. You can shave this off carefully with a serrated knife, take the truffles out of the fridge about an hour before you want to do this
- Place the chocolates in their pretty cases and feel very happy
- Do or don't tell the contents of the truffles, it depends on how mean you're feeling!