December is a time of joyous gift giving. Most anyone can buy chocolates and truffles, but very few folks make their gifts. These unique chocolate recipes are perfect for the sweet tooth souls on your list.
For the lean healthy lifestyle friends: Healthy Chocolate Truffles
For those who like spicy crunchy foods: Spicy Rice Krispie Truffles
For everyone: Versatile Coconut Tassies filled with chocolate almond ganaché are great for a gift, or filled with yogurt and berries are a wonderful addition to a dessert tray.
Healthy Chocolate Truffles(About 2 dozen)2 cups pitted dates (preferably Medjool)
1/4 cup raw cacao powder
1 tablespoon coconut oil plus more to coat your hands
2 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/8 teaspoon salt or more to tasteFor the coating:1/2 cup cacao powder; finely chopped coconut flakes; finely chopped salted pistachios, chopped cacao chips, or confectioners sugarTo prepare:In the food processor, add dates, cacao powder, and coconut oil, vanilla, and salt and process until smooth about three to five minutes.
Scrape down sides of the bowl, adding a tablespoon of water if necessary to help the dough to come together.
Lightly coat your hands with coconut oil.
Spoon out a bite-sized amount of dough and roll it between your palms into a ball.
Place on a parchment- paper-lined baking sheet.
Refrigerate until firm or cover and freeze.
Just before serving, roll in desired coating.Spiced Rice Krispie TrufflesAdapted from the River Cafe, circa 1990s(About 4 dozen truffles)3/4 cup heavy cream
1/2 vanilla bean, scrapings and bean
2 inches fresh ginger, peeled and chopped
1 whole clove
1/2 cinnamon stick (about 2 inches)
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1 3/4 pounds good quality milk chocolate, chopped (can use semi-sweet), separated into 1-and-1/4-pound and 1/2-pound portions
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
1 and 1/4 cups rice Krispies cereal To prepare:In a medium saucepan over moderate high heat, add heavy cream, vanilla bean and scrapings, ginger, clove, cinnamon stick, and nutmeg and bring to a boil.
Remove from heat, cover, and let sit at room temperature for thirty minutes to infuse the cream with spices.
Set pan on the stove and bring back to a rapid boil.
Meanwhile place 1 and 1/4 pounds chocolate in a mixing bowl and set aside.
Set a chinois or fine mesh strainer over the bowl.
When cream is hot, pour it into the strainer and discard the solids.
Let chocolate sit for three to five minutes.
With a wire whisk, stir butter into the chocolate until completely smooth.
Cool, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate until the “ganaché” is firm.
With your hands, roll chocolate into logs about 1 inch by 6 inches and place them on a board dusted with powdered sugar.
Roll each log until it measures 1 foot long by 1/2 inch round. Cut off 3/4-inch slices and roll them into balls (truffles).
Place the truffles on a parchment-paper-lined baking sheet and freeze until the chocolate is set.
Can be made in advance before coating.To coat the truffles: In a metal bowl set over simmering water, melt the remaining chocolate until it reaches 115 degrees F on a candy thermometer. Do not cover the pan.
Remove pan from the heat and rigorously stir with a wooden spoon.
Pour one-third of melted chocolate onto a marble slab and, with a spatula, press the chocolate outward and then back toward the center in a figure-8 configuration until the chocolate thickens and has the consistency of paste, about eight to 10 minutes.
Add the “tempered” chocolate to chocolate in the pan and mix until smooth, rewarming a few seconds if necessary to facilitate the process.
Stir rice cereal into the chocolate and dip the hardened truffles in it. Making sure they are well coated. Transfer to a parchment-paper-lined baking sheet to set.
Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until serving time.
Serve at room temperature.Chocolate Almond Tassies(Makes 2 dozen sweets)1 1/3 cups finely shredded unsweetened organic coconut
2 large egg whites, room temperature
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons coconut palm sugarFor the filling:4 ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped
4 ounces dark chocolate, chopped
1/2 cup almond butter
24 roasted salted Marcona almondsOr:Dollop of vanilla yogurt topped with blueberries or raspberriesTo make the shells: Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Spray 24 mini-muffin tins with cooking spray.
Working in the food processor, add coconut, egg whites and sugar and pulse until the mixture forms a smooth cohesive mass.
Place about a scant tablespoonful in each muffin cup.
With moistened fingers/thumbs, press the mixture evenly into the bottom and up the side of each cup.
Bake until the bottoms are golden and edges are brown, about 10 to 12 minutes.
The surface will feel dry.
Cool pan on a wire rack for 10 minutes.
Carefully, with a knife or off-set spatula, pop out the shells.
Cool completely on a rack.
Store in airtight container for up to three days. Refrigerate if longer.To make the filling and serve:Just before serving, make the chocolate filling.
Working in a metal bowl set over a pan of simmering water, add chocolate and almond butter.
Stir until smooth but don’t let bottom of the bowl touch the water.
Remove from the heat and stir occasionally until room temperature.
Spoon the chocolate into the shells, filling them about two-thirds of the way full.
Press an almond on top of each “tassie.”
Refrigerate if making ahead and serve at room temperature.