I'm an accidentally messy person in the kitchen! Even with the best of intentions and precautionary setups, I fail because I am clumsy at times. There are times when I try to make clean moves with a lot of effort but end up tackling something else and things spill. On other occasions, it might not be me but it might be my environment. All of this somehow gets even more amplified when I work with chocolate and cocoa. Melted chocolate goes all over the kitchen walls and cocoa powder dust is all over the counter top. Be warned chocolate truffle making is messy but the rewards are well worth the effort and cleanup. And if you make 3 dozen like I did, you could probably reward yourself with one after every little spot you discover!
Happy Hallowed Halloween! No costumes for me this year but I plan to make up for it with some homemade truffles. I've always thought of truffles as the confectioner's tool when it comes to invoking mysterious moods and dark chocolate is probably one of the best ingredients that conveys this sentiment with perfection. You might never know what is inside a box of assorted truffles and even if you do, you're still eager to bite through the layer of dark goodness just to taste what's inside.
Though the filling inside these dark little bundles might not be a mystery there are different types and levels of flavors that you will experience when you taste them. You'll first taste the salt and pepper, followed by the intense dark chocolate layer and then the mild sweetness of pumpkin and almond. With so many fun and complex flavors, these might just be the best little adult treat for Halloween!
Here are some of my kitchen tips that you might find helpful while making truffles;
- I recommend making the filling larger, perhaps 3/4 of an inch in height. I found that 1/2 inch makes way too many. Too many is a good then when you want to eat but when working with warm chocolate and frozen truffle filling, you want to move as quickly as possible.
- You can use either almond or cashew flour in the filling, almond has a less pronounced taste than cashews and doesn't take away from the pumpkin flavor.
- Keep the melted chocolate on a pan of warm water but make sure it is not hot, or the chocolate can dry out if overheated. If that does happen, you might need to add a little more melted chocolate to get things silky smooth again. Do not add water or the chocolate will seize.
- Once you remove the frozen filling, keep them cold. You can keep the tray over a pan filled with ice cold water or even freezer bags to maintain the cool temperature.
- The sea salt crystals and black pepper are optional. I didn't have Maldon salt flakes at home so I used some sea-salt crystals, they worked well for me, you don't need too much of either ingredient, just a little hint goes a long way.
- I found the bamboo skewers to work great for the dipping the filling mounds into the hot chocolate. If you do decide to make the mounds larger than I made them, then you can use your hands to dip. Since the mounds are frozen the chocolate will harden quickly so work as fast as possible.
- Use a good quality dark chocolate, I used Guittard's 63% extra dark cacao chips.
dark chocolate pumpkin truffles with sea salt and black pepper
yields: about 3 dozen mini truffles (1/2 inch tall)
1 tablespoon coconut oil
1 cup (8 ounces) unsweetened pumpkin purée
1 cup (3 ounces) almond flour
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
2-3 tablespoons brown sugar
8 ounces dark chocolate semisweet or bittersweet chips (I used 63% cacao chips from Guittard)
1 - 1 1/2 tablespoon sea salt crystals (you won't use it all) (Maldon sea salt flakes would be perfect here)
1 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper
1. In a small thick-bottomed saucepan, heat the coconut oil on a medium-low flame. Add the pumpkin purée, almond flour, salt and sugar. Stir with a wooden spoon and cook for about 5 - 7 minutes until most of the liquid has evaporated (The cooking time here will vary depending on the amount of liquid in the purée). Remove the mixture from the stove and allow to cool.
2. There are two different ways to create the filling for the truffles. You can scoop the pumpkin-almond mixture using a melon ball or a small ice cream scoop or alternatively, do what I did. Transfer the pumpkin filling to a clean icing bag or a icing syringe fitted with a 1/2 inch plain pastry tube. Scoop or pipe out the filling onto a baking tray/sheet lined with parchment paper into 1/2 inch high mounds. Once the mounds are lined out on the sheet, freeze the entire tray for about 1-2 hours until completely frozen.
3. While the mounds are freezing, melt the chocolate in a thick bottomed saucepan over a pan of barely simmering water (watch to ensure the chocolate doesn't overcook or burn). Stir the chocolate with a silicone spatula until it silky and smooth with shiny sheen. Keep the melted chocolate warm over a pan of warm water.
4. Line another large baking sheet with parchment paper. Take two bamboo skewers and pass one through a frozen filling mound. Dip it into the melted chocolate to coat and swirl to coat evenly. Using the second skewer transfer the chocolate coated mound onto the prepared baking sheet. Sprinkle with a tiny bit of sea salt crystals and a tiny hint of black pepper. Prepare the rest of the truffles similarly and allow to set and harden at room temperature for about 1 hour. I recommend allowing the entire tray of prepared truffles to cool in the refrigerator for 30 minutes before freezing. Transfer and store the hardened truffles in a dry airtight container in the refrigerator.