Sunday, January 6, 2013

Mini-Melt-In-Your-Mouth Dark Chocolate Truffles with Chili and Sea Salt ~ Espresso Hot Chocolate ~ Coconut Milk Whipped Cream ~ Simple Treats with a Twist

You can't go wrong with a classic chocolate truffle. But every once in a while, it's good to change things up a bit. It keeps things interesting.

I present to you these miniature-melt-in-your-mouth sweet and spicy confections. They're spiked with a wee bit of chili pepper, smoked paprika and a teeny bit of sea salt. The salt enhances the richness of the dark chocolate. The chili pepper and smoked paprika sneak up on you, hitting your taste buds when you least expect it, sending some heat and smokiness to your palate. So there you have it, a tiny, creamy, feisty morsel of pleasure.
Especially for you, from me.

Dark chocolate is an anti-oxidant powerhouse filled with trace minerals. I rarely go a day without eating a piece...or two...or three....just love it! We all have our guilty pleasures.

Call me old fashioned, but I like picking up a fresh bouquet of roses to go with my homemade chocolate truffles. Naturally, you agree with me, right? I've always loved pink garden roses. Roses and chocolate have made many, many people happy for centuries. You're viewing a pure nostalgic couple here. They'll be companions for a long time. I buy these things for myself whenever the mood strikes. I head to the regular old supermarket and pick up a bunch of pink roses and a couple of bars of chocolate. The flowers go in a pretty vase and the chocolate bars are turned into truffles, or my favorite my favorite moist, dark, fudgy, cakey brownies or a cup of luxurious hot chocolate. Isn't it nice to treat yourself to something special every once in awhile?

We're heading for more chocolate indulgences now with this espresso hot chocolate. It's so easy, so decadent, so creamy and rich. A tried and true technique produces a warm-liquid-chocolate-truffle 
in a cup with a pronounced espresso flavor. Sip it in the morning or as an afternoon pick-me-up. It's made with coconut milk, but you can use regular milk too. Coconut whipped cream or regular whipped cream is delicious on top. 

I serve it in my prettiest demitasse cups. French decorating and French china is another passion of mine. I've been collecting vintage French dinnerware for years, picking up pieces here and there at antique stores, second hand stores and ebay. It's fun to mix and match different patterns. I use them almost every day too. If they're a little worn around the edges, it doesn't matter. The flaws enhance their charm. Beautiful things make me happy.

Coconut Milk Whipped Cream

Chili and Sea Salt Infused Dark Chocolate Truffles Recipe:
 Adapted from Donna Hay's Recipe for Chocolate Truffles

Some Notes: 

Some of my taste testers said they like even more heat in the the spice infused truffles. Some said that they were fine. You be the judge. Tweak the amount of chili to your preference. Just a tiny sprinkle of sea salt is needed. Don't over do it with the salt.

I used two 3.5 ounce bars of Lindt Excellence Dark Chocolate Infused With Spicy Red Chili and one 3.5 ounce bar of Green and Blacks 85% Organic Cocoa Dark Chocolate in this recipe. I used lite cream in the recipe, but you're free to use regular cream.                                                                                                 

There are a couple of ways to finish them. You can roll them in cocoa powder which is always a classic or some grated coconut or a combo of cocoa powder and a bit of Penzeys Vietnamese Cinnamon. The Vietnamese cinnamon will give them a delicious Mexican chocolate taste. Penzeys rich Dutch cocoa powder is divine too.

See below for a gluten-free chocolate source, included with the espresso hot chocolate recipe.

Makes about 35-40 Mini Truffles

You'll Need:
  • 1/2 cup of light cream or regular cream.
  • 2  3.5 ounce bars of Lindt Chili Dark Chocolate Bars  chopped.  
  • 3.0 ounces good quality dark chocolate, chopped. I used most of a 3.5 ounce bar of Green and Black's Dark Chocolate.
  • 1/4 teaspoon of smoked paprika
  • 1 small dash of ground red chili powder 
  • a sprinkling of sea salt 
  • Good quality cocoa powder, shredded coconut, cinnamon for dusting
The Rundown: 
Place 1/2 cup of the lite cream in a small pot and heat over medium heat. Add the chopped dark chocolate, spices and salt. Stir to combine and melt the chocolate. Remove from heat and stir until thoroughly combined. Pour into a lightly greased 8 by 8 inch baking pan lined with nonstick baking paper. Refrigerate until hardened, about one to two hours. Scoop out the chocolate by rounded teaspoons. Roll the chocolate in your hands to form balls the size of small marbles. Then roll the small chocolate balls in the cocoa powder, coconut and or cocoa powder/cinnamon. Serve. Makes about 35-40 mini truffles.

Espresso Hot Chocolate Recipe adapted this recipe from Michael Turback's recipe for Cioccolato Caldo found in his book Hot Chocolate.

Some Notes: 
A cornstarch and water mixture  is used to thicken the hot chocolate a bit making taste like a warm liquid chocolate truffle. The recipe calls for SILK coconut milk beverage or regular whole milk. The hot chocolate is served with whipped cream made from full fat coconut milk. I've made it with regular milk and regular whipped cream too. If you don't like espresso, then use a regular, good quality dark chocolate bar. The choice is yours. Enjoy!

If you don't finish it, you can store it in an airtight container in the fridge for a few days. Reheat it in the microwave for a quick morning treat.

Vegans, use your favorite dark chocolate bar and follow the recipe as directed. I like Endangered Species Vegan, Gluten Free Dark Chocolate Espresso Bars

You'll Need:
  • 1 3.5 ounce bar of  Green & Blacks Dark Chocolate Espresso Bar, chopped into small pieces (see notes for a vegan and gluten-free chocolate bar source)
  • 3/4 cup of coconut milk beverage or regular whole milk. I use SILK All Natural Original Coconut Milk Beverage. 
  • 1/4 teaspoon of cornstarch mixed with 1 teaspoon of water. (See notes)
  • 1 teaspoon of sugar.  How much sugar you add is a matter of personal preference. 
The Rundown:
Put the chopped chocolate in a microwave safe bowl. Microwave until chocolate melts. Be careful not to burn it. Stop and stir it a few times as you melt it in the microwave. Put the coconut milk and the sugar in a pot. Heat it on medium heat. Bring to a gentle simmer. Add some of the milk to the melted chocolate and whisk to combine. Add the chocolate to the pot with the rest of the milk along with the cornstarch and water solution. Simmer for 3-5 minutes, whisking the whole time. The more you cook it the thicker and creamier it will be. Sip and Enjoy or Serve with Coconut Whipped Cream (recipe below). 

Coconut Milk Whipped Cream Recipe:

You'll Need:
  • 1 can of full fat coconut milk. I've tried this with Thai Kitchen brand and Trader Joe's Extra Thick and Rich Coconut Cream 
  • sugar or agave nectar to taste. The agave with make the whipped cream a little glossy. The agave will also thin it out a bit so don't use too much. 
  • 1/2 teaspoon of coconut or vanilla extract (optional)

The Rundown:
Put the can of coconut milk in the refrigerator overnight. I've had good luck with Thai Kitchen Coconut Milk and Trader Joe's Coconut Cream. Trader Joe's Coconut Cream contains almost no coconut water. It's all cream. It's decadent, rich and very easy to work with (foolproof) in this recipe. Put the can in the coolest part of your fridge because the coconut cream must be very cold to whip up properly.  

The next day, take the can out of the fridge and gently open it. Do not shake the can. You will see all the white, thick coconut cream at the top. The liquid coconut water will be underneath the coconut cream at the bottom of the can. You don't want to use the coconut water in this recipe. You want to gently lift the coconut cream out of the can, being careful to leave the coconut water behind. 

Put the thick coconut cream in a large bowl. Beat the cream with an electric mixer until it becomes light, whipped and creamy, adding the extract and sugar or agave. I used the whisk attachment. 

Dollop on my espresso hot chocolate, freshly sliced mango or pineapple or your favorite dessert.

Coconut whipped cream is lighter in taste and texture than regular whipped cream. It has a mild coconut flavor. I suggest using the coconut extract if pairing it with fresh tropical fruit.  

Some nutritional facts about the ingredients used in these recipes:
Coconut Milk is rich in vitamins, omega 3's and minerals. It has manganese with helps regulate blood sugar and promote healthy skin. It contains copper, vitamin C, zinc, potassium and magnesium. It's high in fiber. Cocoa contains powerful antioxidants that neutralize free radicals.

Looking for more sweet recipes?

The best brownies I've ever made! The perfect combo of fudgy and cakey. Moist, deep dark chocolate. Sea salt takes them over the top. 

Sweet Summer Raspberry Sauce

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