Well, certainly not me. Last weekend saw me really start to feel the countdown to Christmas, with the first Christmas dinner of the season, accompanied by all the best bits you expect from a jolly Christmas soundtrack (and this does not include the ‘festive panpipes’ that have traumatised me since my teenaged waitressing days, when I was subjected to them continuously from mid-November until well after the January sales were in full swing).
Early unpleasant musical memories aside, this weekend was fantastic, and the best way to get in the mood with lashings of Christmas spirit (and wine, port, sherry etc). I was asked to bring the pudding, and instead of risking an overload of fruity Christmas goodness from an early stage, I decided to avoid Christmas pudding and mince pies, and opted to go with a Christmas adaptation of the rich chocolate cake I last made for my mother’s birthday. This time I adapted it with brandy and orange essence, and served it with clotted cream, flavoured with orange juice and zest. But that’s not the exciting part.
The exciting part came after coffee...
When I decorated my Christmas cakes this year, I had to do a little bit of trimming to make them completely flat, leaving me with a small bowl of delicious Christmassy crumbs. Not one to let anything go to waste, this got me thinking of how I could re-use them in another recipe, and I came up with the following Christmas pudding truffles. The basic ganache is one I have shared before, but the outcome is lipsmackingly different...
Basic Chocolate Ganache
200g best quality dark chocolate (I used 90% cocoa solids for these), broken up
200ml double cream
30g unsalted butter
White Chocolate Ganache
100g white chocolate, broken up
100ml double cream
15g unsalted butter
45g ground almonds
3-4 tblsp dessicated coconut
For the Orange liqueur truffles
1 des sp. brandy
Dash of orange essence
1-2 tblsp dessicated coconut
For the Christmas Pudding Truffles
1 des sp. brandy
2-3 tblsp Christmas cake crumbs, soaked in 1 des sp. brandy overnight
25g white chocolate
40g dark chocolate
Red and green writing icing, to decorate
1. Start with the basic chocolate ganache: heat the butter and cream on the hob until they are completely mixed, and bubbling.
2. Remove from the heat, and stir in the chocolate
3. Separate into two batches, and flavour one with the orange liquer ingredients. Flavour the second with a desert spoon of brandy (this batch will turn into Christmas pudding truffles).
4. Pop both batches in the fridge for 3-5 hours.
5. Prepare the white chocolate ganache in the same way as the basic one. However, after you have stirred in your white chocolate you then need to stir in the almond and coconut.
6. Put the white truffle mix in the fridge for 3-5 hours.
7. When the two basic (white and dark) mixtures are nice and chilled, you can get them out and start rolling into truffle-sized balls with your hands (or teaspoons if you’re fancy). Then roll them in your choice of coating – I’m particularly partial to dessicated coconut., but cocoa powder is good too. I tend to avoid icing sugar, as it doesn't always react well to the moisture conent of the truffles. Put them in the fridge, out of temptation’s way.
8. For the Christmas pudding truffles, you will need to mix the crumbs into the ganache, and then start the rolling process. I found it worked perfectly well to just clump a blob of crumbs in with a blob of ganache and smudge it together. When these are formed into balls, pop them in the freezer for five minutes to chill rapidly.
9. Using a bain-marie, melt the plain chocolate to coat them.
10. Dunk the pudding truffles in the melted chocolate so that they are completely covered, then sit them on a plate covered in clingfilm – return them to the fridge for the chocolate to set and to re-cool.
11. Melt the white chocolate in a bain-marie. Bring the truffles out of the fridge, and, using a teaspoon, pop a blob of white chocolate on the top of each truffle – make sure it’s enough that it will dribble down the sides slightly, without making the entire top half of the truffle white. You can manipulate the white chocolate using a skewer if necessary. When all truffles have been decorated this way, return them to the fridge to set. The final step is to use red and green writing icing to decorate the top of the truffles with a holly pattern.
These truffles have a short shelf life due to the butter and cream content. If you are not planning on tucking straight into them, they can be stored in the freezer for up to three months, but the Christmas pudding truffles should be frozen prior to piping the icing decoration on the top.