Anyone who knows me, knows I love chocolate. Nothing fancy mind. Just good old fashion chocolate - plain cadbury's is fine. However, over the last couple of years, I have developed a hankering for dark chocolate. It is always my reward for finishing what is a massive food shop for my family.
I love this time of year. This is when baking really comes into its own. Over the last month, I have been pouring over my cook books and magazines to plan out my Christmas baking. For years now, I have always baked gifts for friends, workmates, kinder teachers and so on. I am well versed in shortbread, chocolate balls, mince pies, peppermint bark etc. I will always bake those old favorites but I wanted to branch out this year.
I have not been paying attention in previous years, because I had the old favourites. I have discovered that christmas is just an excuse for publishers to wack on the word "christmas" in front of anything. I have seen "christmas brownies" (which I have to say are damn good, but more on that next time), christmas cookies (looked like the recipe for sugar cookies to me), christmas gingerbread men (that sell as plain old gingerbread men the other 11 months) and now we have christmas chocolate balls. Taaadaaa! Funny, I have seen them as Chocolate Truffles in previous issues.
Never mind. I don't care, I love chocolate, I have never made a truffle and even better, this recipe called for peppermint liqueur. Just to digress a minute for the Australian's amongst us, I feel there is a clear side, you are either a Tim Tam fan or a Mint Slice fan. I fall firmly in the Mint Slice camp. Always have. Nothing beats them, you can bring out all your special flavour type Tim Tams you like. Mint Slice wins hands down, which is why this recipe appealed to me. It had dark chocolate AND Mint. You can't loose.
Anyway, the recipe called for melting of dark chocolate, butter and cream. Easy done. You then take 2 Peppermint Crisps (not sure if you can get these outside Australia but it is basically a green coloured peppermint candy bar covered in chocolate) and crush them up. Stir them into the melted mix and cool in fridge for 3-4 hours.
What is supposed to happen next is you take the mix out of the fridge and simply "roll into perfect balls". Are you kidding? The mix was as hard as concrete. I left it on the bench to soften and nothing much happened. I ended up scraping of bits at a time. Then, maybe I didn't crush the Peppermint Crisp enough but my perfect balls weren't so perfect. Tried my best but I have the hottest hands in the Southern Hemisphere so what were hard as rocks quickly started to melt between my hands. I perserved. Who likes a perfect ball anyway? I will give you a hint - obsessive compulsive me, that's who.
Once the balls were done. I had to put them back in the fridge to recover. Then I melted more dark chocolate and dipped the balls into them. Then back in the fridge to harden. Finally, I melted some white chocolate to drizzle over them before popping them back in the fridge to harden.
Phew!!! I then decided they could do with a bit of dressing up and put them in tiny cup cake papers.
They tasted divine and were well received at our dinner party last night and by my 32 week pregnant mother of two girls under 4 girlfriend today who was having a bad day. Chocolate solves everything!
I must say, I now know why those "handmade" truffles in little delis and chocolate shops cost so much per serve. There are a lot of man hours in this delight!
Anyway, this kicks of the christmas baking for me. Lots more to come this month.