The dinner party: a group of people assembled to have dinner together, and a typically non-stressful, sometimes enjoyable event. A few weeks ago, I received an invite to such a party. But this wasn’t just any dinner party… It was an Italian dinner party.
As a student of Italian, I’m all too aware of their take on the Brits’ culinary skills. Wide eyes, sympathetic smiles and wincing are the typical responses to my attempts at promoting my “really, really good and definitely very Italian” Broccoli and Anchovy Pasta. Yes, a dinner party. This time I was determined not to lose face. Here was a chance to prove my British worth. I would checkmate their Giorgio Locatelli with my Mary Berry. And so I turned to truffles…
“Ecco i miei tartufi!”, I announced as I entered the student kitchen just off Camden Road. But I quickly learned that the ‘truffle’ is a phenomenon that hasn’t quite yet enchanted, better still reached, the Beautiful Country (even if its language has already gifted it a space in the dictionary (‘tartufo’)). After a “buonissimo” mushroom risotto that thoroughly vetoed any potential for pasta self-promotion, I strategically placed my secret chocolate weapons at the heart of the table. Eyes shifted, heads were scratched, conversation ground to a halt and… the truffles remained in their box. Who knew the Italians were such, ahem, cowards? Witnessing the sinking of my culinary ship, I panicked and went where no chef has gone before: I took the first truffle. Five minutes and several Italian mouths later, not one truffle was left.
Like a good cup of tea, a good truffle needs a solid, but simple method. Perfection is relative, but here are a few of my very own truffle tips to edge you that bit closer…
(Makes 10-12 truffles)
100ml double cream
100g good quality dark chocolate (70%+)
A good knob of proper butter (no Lurpak here)
A pinch of sea salt
Scrumptious, impressive and posh needn’t mean impossible.
1. Chop up your 100g of chocolate well: we’re talking as fine and small as possible to reduce the risk of lumps. Once chopped, place in a large bowl.
2. Heat a small pan and add the ‘good knob of butter’. When melted, add the double cream and a pinch of salt. Leave on to heat for 1-2 minutes, stirring regularly, until the cream begins to simmer.
3. Add the piping hot cream mix to the chopped chocolate. Mix together until a smooth, tantalising, chocolate paste is achieved.
Sometimes, you may be left with a lumpy mixture which will terrorise your truffle success! To avoid this, place a bowl of freshly boiled water beneath the chocolate whilst you heat your cream: this will get everything a little more runny and ready to go.
4. Chill chocolate in the fridge for 2 hours.
5. You’ve earned a cuppa! Sip away those few hours with a cup of Earl Grey: it goes perfectly with that chocolate covered spoon you’re dying to lick…
You’ve cleanly and safely arrived at the messy bit. Now prepare to get your hands dirty…
1. Take a warm teaspoon and scoop out a good teaspoon’s worth.
2. Roll it between your hands until it has formed into a ball.
3. Repeat until all of the chocolate has been ‘balled’.
From subtle to showy, from dainty to downright jumbo, truffles come in many varieties. Like my teas, I like to mix the conventional with the unconventional and here are a few of my choco concoctions:
My favourite by far. Green & Black’s Espresso Dark Chocolate smoulders at the heart of each truffle, which is then rolled in crushed Amaretti biscuits to create a rocky and meteoric feel. If you’re feeling edgy and rebellious, have one with a cup of tea…
Balls of Green & Black’s 70% Dark Chocolate rolled in cocoa powder. Effortlessly epic. It’s the simple things in life…
Rum and Almond
Perfect for parties. Add a generous splash of rum to the mix before it is chilled, then roll the truffles along a plate of crushed flaked almonds. Crunchy with quite a kick.