Who said you had to wait until February?
Love is a New Year's Treat from Sweet Things, Chocolates, Candies, Caramels & Marshmallows to Make & Give (Kyle Books, October 2014) by Annie Rigg.
I like heart shapes and so for these truffles I set the praline ganache into a shallow pan and stamped out heart shapes in assorted sizes before coating in either milk or dark chocolate.
If you had plastic or silicone heart-shaped molds, you could use those—follow the instructions for creating a chocolate shell on page 51 for the Easter eggs and then fill with the ganache.
Or if you have no inclination to make heart shapes, simply chill the ganache and roll into balls following the instructions for making truffles on page 16.
3/4 cup blanched hazelnuts
1⁄3 cup superfine sugar
3 oz dark chocolate (64 percent cocoa solids), chopped
5 oz milk chocolate, chopped
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/2 teaspoon vanilla bean paste
pinch of salt
5 oz milk chocolate,
5 oz dark chocolate, chopped
1 tablespoon crystallized
roses or sugar sprinkles
8 x 12-inch baking pan
heart-shaped cutters in assorted sizes
disposable piping bag
Preheat the oven to 325°F and line the baking sheet with nonstick parchment paper.
Toast the hazelnuts in the oven for 4 minutes until pale golden. Set aside.
Place the superfine sugar in a small, heavy-bottomed saucepan with 1 tablespoon water. Melt the sugar over low heat without stirring and use a clean pastry brush dipped in hot water to dissolve any sugar crystals that form on the sides of the pan. Once the sugar has dissolved bring the syrup to a boil and cook steadily until it becomes an amber-colored caramel. Add the hazelnuts to the pan, stir to combine, and then turn out onto a sheet of nonstick parchment paper. Leave to cool completely.
Break the praline into chunks, chop in a food processor until finely ground, and then continue to blend until you have a slightly granular paste, almost like peanut butter. Set aside while you prepare the ganache.
Place the dark and milk chocolate in a heatproof bowl with the heavy cream, vanilla, and salt and set it over a pan of barely simmering water, making sure the bottom of the bowl doesn’t touch the water. Stir frequently until the chocolate has melted into the cream and the ganache is silky smooth.
Remove from the pan and cool for a few minutes before folding in the hazelnut paste. Spoon the ganache into the prepared pan and spread level with an offset spatula. Leave to cool and then cover and chill until firm.
Turn the set ganache out of the pan and peel off the lining paper. Using the heart cutters, stamp out truffles in a variety of sizes and arrange on a clean sheet of parchment paper. Chill again while you prepare the chocolate for the coating.
Follow the instructions for tempering chocolate on page 24. Reserve 1 tablespoon of either the milk or dark chocolate for piping, then on the tines of a dipping or dinner fork, dip the hearts, one at a time, into either chocolate and allow any excess to drip back into the bowl. Carefully place the chocolate-coated hearts on clean parchment paper and decorate with crystallized roses or sprinkles.
Spoon the reserved chocolate into the piping bag, snip the end into a fine point, and pipe decorative lines, swirls, or dots over the hearts. Leave in a cool place until set.
Instructions for making truffles:
Using a teaspoon, scoop the ganache into cherry-sized balls and roll in your hands until smooth. Arrange on a parchment-covered tray and chill again for 15 minutes.
Put 3 ounces of the remaining chocolate in a heatproof bowl and place over a pan of barely simmering water, making sure the bottom of the bowl doesn’t touch the water. Pop the tempering thermometer into the chocolate. Melt the chocolate, stirring until it is smooth and the chocolate reaches a temperature of 120°F. Remove the bowl from the pan, add the remaining chocolate, and stir to combine. Leave to cool to a temperature of 80°F, stirring frequently to speed up the cooling process.
Return the bowl to the pan of hot water and reheat the chocolate to 88°F. Please note these temperatures are for dark chocolate only.
Instructions for creating a chocolate shell:
Lay the mold on a large sheet of parchment paper and spoon two-thirds of the melted dark chocolate into the mold, filling all of the egg shapes. Tilt the mold from side to side so that the inside of each egg is evenly coated. Hold the mold over the bowl of melted chocolate and use an offset spatula or dough scraper to scrape the excess chocolate cleanly away and back into the bowl, then turn the mold upside down and leave to drain over the parchment paper, elevating slightly by resting the ends on wooden spoons. Allow the chocolate shells to set until completely solid.
Praline hearts will keep in the fridge for up to 1 week in an airtight box between sheets of parchment paper or waxed paper.
(* Recipe reproduced with permission from Sweet Things, Chocolates, Candies, Caramels & Marshmallows to Make & Give -Kyle Books, October 2014- by Annie Rigg)