When I was a little girl, I never paid Valentine’s Day much attention. To little seven-year-old me, it seemed like an occasion that only adults like mummy and daddy had the privilege to enjoy. Then, in my preteen years, Valentine’s Day only left me (and plenty of other people) frustrated and annoyed. That eventually progressed into blatant indifference until the day I found James. Now, Valentine’s Day gives me the opportunity to exchange homemade gifts and meticulously crafted edible surprises with my boyfriend. This would be our third Valentine’s Day together. We have come a long way.
This year, our celebrations were a little subdued. Bella, James’ family dog, passed away the night before and it was a very sad time for all of us. She was a gorgeous little thing, with large contemplative eyes and a bashful temperament. Everyone loved her. She was already very old when I first met her, but she was always young at heart. I feel very blessed to have had the chance to be in her life, even if only for the couple of years she had left. We will always remember sweet Bella. May she rest in peace.
I had a tough time deciding on the sort of sweet treat I was going to present to James on Valentine’s Day. He insisted that I needn’t give him anything, but I had a mixtape ready and I had a handwritten letter done. I just needed a box of edible goodies. I figured something a little traditional would be a safe route, so I opted for chocolate. Can’t go wrong with chocolate, right? But the more I thought about it, the more worried I got. I didn’t want to whip up a boring batch that you could easily get for $10 a box at any grocery store. I wanted to create something special. Then, inspired by a fantastic recipe on Cookies: Over 600 Great Recipes, I got to work on these hazelnut orange chocolate truffles.
These aren’t your typical ganache-filled, cocoa powder-coated chocolate truffles. Consisting of a densely packed mixture of finely ground hazelnuts, cocoa, freshly squeezed orange juice, lemon essence and caster sugar, each malleable piece is carefully rolled into half tablespoon-sized balls and dusted with pink-purple-white sugar sprinkles.
Orange and chocolate are two flavours that go very well together. As expected, the complex and familiar taste of hazelnuts blended seamlessly with the orange-chocolate duo. Dense, but soft and almost chewy at the same time, with a mild crunch from the sugar sprinkles, these gorgeous little truffles look every inch the epitome of Valentine’s Day. I’m happy to say that James thoroughly enjoyed them.
Hazelnut Orange Chocolate Truffles
adapted from Cookies: Over 600 Great Recipes by McRae Books.
1 1/3 cups hazelnut meal
1/2 cup raw caster sugar
2 1/2 tablespoons fresh orange juice
1 tablespoon lemon essence
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
Some colourful sugar sprinkles, to decorate
- In a large bowl, combine hazelnut meal and sugar.
- Stir in the orange juice and lemon essence and mix until thoroughly combined.
- Sift the cocoa powder into the bowl and mix thoroughly until the truffle dough turns a uniform brown colour.
- Scoop out small clumps of dough and roll them into balls. Approximately half a tablespoon of dough is recommended for each truffle as they are quite rich and dense.
- Pour your coloured sugar sprinkles of choice in a small bowl. Gently roll the balls in the sugar sprinkles until well-coated.
- Place truffles in an airtight container and refrigerate for at least 2 hours before serving.