It’s coming up to Christmas and the heat is on, literally as well as figuratively (34 degrees in Brisbane in November) to come up with some gift ideas and sweet eats.
One really simple foodie gift is to make truffles using the gluten free chocolate slice recipe I teach in my gluten free cooking school. It is a melt and mix cake and makes a super easy and fun baking activity for the kids. I like to soak my cake crumbs in some alcohol but for the little ones use orange juice or similar. For the surprise centre you can add a nut or a pitted fresh cherry but these options are up to you.
These tasty morsels make a great teacher-present or pack them on a pretty plate and take them to your festive function. You will get around 40 truffles depending on the size you make them and once made, you can freeze them if you’re getting ahead of your Christmas prep. To make excellent use of your time make a double or triple batch.
I have pressed a whole nut into these (roasted hazelnut for the cocoa truffles and macadamia for the coconut truffles). Next time I will be adding a pitted fresh cherry and rolling these in slivered/splintered almonds. Cherries are not quite in season here yet but as soon as they are I will be making another batch or three.
The recipe with centre variations:
125g butter (or butter substitute)
175g or 1 cup dark choc bits
220g or 1 cup caster sugar
3 x 60g eggs or egg substitute (see below)
170g or 1 cup plain flour
4g or ½ teaspoon gluten free baking powder
35g or 1/3 cup cocoa
3g or ½ teaspoon guar gum
Sweet sherry or other alcohol of choice or a fruit juice
Roasted whole hazelnuts with the skins rubbed off, whole macadamia, pitted fresh cherries
Cocoa, shredded coconut and slivered almonds
Let’s get baking!
Preheat oven to 180°C. Line a slice pan with baking paper.
Combine butter and choc bits in a heatproof, microwave safe bowl. Microwave on MEDIUM (50%) power for 2 to 3 minutes, stirring every minute with a metal spoon until smooth. As an alternative you can place the bowl over simmering water to melt the ingredients, being careful not to let the bowl touch the water. Stir in sugar and eggs that have been cracked into a small bowl individually to ensure freshness and without shell or blood spots.
In a separate bowl combine dry ingredients and sift over chocolate mixture, stirring gently to combine.
Spread mixture into the pan and bake for 20 – 25 minutes or until a skewer inserted comes out clean. Cool completely in pan before assembling the truffles.
Once cake is cool, break the whole thing up into crumbs in a large bowl. Add around 30ml of alcohol or juice and mix it with your hands so all the crumbs are soaked. You can add more alcohol if you like but don’t make it too soggy.
I used a measuring tablespoon so they are all even. Scoop out a tablespoon worth of mixture, pop it into your hand and make a depression in the centre. Add the whole nut or cherry and roll into a ball. Set aside and keep going. Get the kids to help here too. They love getting their hands cakey but maybe avoid them licking their little fingers until the end.
Remember the truffles will all look the same so if you are using one mix with many different centres, keep the balls separate.
Once all the balls are filled and rolled, get a plate or some baking paper and put cocoa, coconut and almonds on a separate sheet (or reuse the paper after each batch is coated). Coat the hazelnut in cocoa, the macadamia in coconut and the cherry in almonds.
You could also come up with other combinations such as rosewater in the crumb mix with a bit of fig or date in the centre and finely chopped pistachios. You could also use glace fruit which is very traditional at Christmas time. Play with the flavours and have fun.
If you’re giving them as a gift either wrap in celophane and a pretty ribbon or scour the op shops for old fashioned plates to serve them on.
If you’d like to remove the eggs from this recipe, a simple converter is to use chia seeds. For each egg it is 1 measuring tablespoon (20ml) of chia seeds to 3 of the same tablespoons of water. So for this recipe it is 3 tablespoons of chia and 9 tablespoons of water. I prefer to grind up the seeds after measuring them then add them to the water for a few minutes to hydrate.