i love making truffles. the process starts with the slow, sensual surrender of chocolate to hot cream (or sometimes wine) after which comes the addition of flavours – a hint of spice, the familiar comfort of vanilla or something savoury like salt to amplify sweetness. a box of handmade truffles has become a december custom usually dispatched with some family member or friend en route to pakistan. baba says they should be consumed in moderation and would prefer to stretch their existence; mama is an inveterate chocoholic and finds it hard to resist them. my brother m will exercise restraint for a while and then consume several in one sitting. and a (my sister-in-law) covets the boxes and jars they are packaged in. this year i tried my hand at paul young’s truffles that include muscovado sugar. i love muscovado for its treacle tone and bitter sweetness.
the yusuf family has a strong affection for confections and morsel sized sweet things. i can map my childhood in relation to these with some recollection of my parents and sibling's favourites. when i was little mama would sometimes tuck a packet of choco-chums into our school lunches as a treat. i loved these oval shaped biscuits whose hollows had a smidgen of chocolate. my brother loved candyland jellies. these came in an assortment of cola bottles, bears, abc’s and rounds coated in crystallised sugar. mama would buy a pack that was intended to be shared between us. but according to her m would work through them greedily so that by the time i was retrieved from school there would be little or none left for me.
on road trips to murree and nathia gali baba would buy tubes of fruitella and round tins of travel sweets. we both preferred blackcurrant and strawberry to the vitamin c like orange chews. the hard candies that will forever be associated with these trips are mayfair’s orange candies. they were disc shaped, sharp and sweet.
as we grew older, it was foreign confectionery that captured our imagination. shams in super market had a particularly good collection. at the end of every month i would use my pocket money to get customised tdk collections of songs from radio city. mama would drive me there and on the way back we would go to shams. i loved runts, nerds and popping candy. other american favourites included lip puckering lemonheads and creamy wether’s caramels. phoopo would bring these from chicago along with bite sized hershey chocolates like kisses, baby ruth, crunchie and almond joy. i did not care much for the hershey’s as the chocolate was weak and ineffective. i was also very partial to krówki (crumbly fudge from poland) that would appear in our house when baba would go to peshawar. mama loved mitchell’s eclairs and butterscotch. but her favourites were to be found amidst the pages of story books written by the likes of roald dahl and enid blyton. she grew up in england eating sherbets, dolly mixture, humbugs and fruit bonbons.
my teens were all about chocolate bars. i discovered that mars was best eaten when slightly melted and that snickers was hefty with a rather addictive saltiness. i also loved curly-whirly, crunchie and flake. these were expensive treats in pakistan but having graduated to them meant that it was almost impossible to eat mini tablets of paxis and mitchell’s jubilee because of the meagre chocolate flavour.
in the late ‘90s we started taking family vacations abroad. in paris baba introduced me to dragees and pâte de fruit. in belgium we ate pralines. on a trip to oxford we bought little chunks of fudge that we ate whilst punting. our transit at dubai airport was seen as an opportunity to stock up on chocolate. there would always be a kg bar of cadbury’s fruit and nut, a bar or two of rum and raisin and a box of guylian.
|making chambord truffles|
over time those tastes has changed. the milky sweet cadbury still retains its place and is accompanied by a box of something more indulgent from the likes of la maison du chocolat, paul young and marcolini. in the last two years a box of my own truffles has joined the ranks – there were red wine truffles for christmas 2012, vin d’orange truffles at easter 2013 and this christmas past it was chambord truffles.
i will be headed to pakistan in march and am already thinking of what to make next. i have a jar of quince ratafia that has been infusing in a dark corner. i think it would make an interesting truffle. or perhaps i could make something with the jars of marmalade that i have just bottled. what do you think?
two hundred ml double cream
one hundred grams light muscovado sugar
two hundred grams good quality 70 % dark chocolate
quarter teaspoon fleur de sel
fifty ml chambord
one hundred grams cocoa powder, to dust
chop or break your chocolate into small pieces.
place the first for ingredients in a small pan and bring to a simmer over medium heat. let the cream stand for a minute using the time to chop your chocolate bar into small pieces.
add the chocolate to the cream. whisk the chocolate into the cream until it forms a smooth ganache. the chocolate should melt completely. if it does not, heat the mixture in a double boiler to achieve the consistency. stir in the chambord.
transfer to a bowl or plastic container and refrigerate overnight. line a baking tray with baking parchment before shaping the truffles. use a teaspoon to scoop dessertspoon sized truffles, placing each one on the baking parchment.
place the cocoa powder in a bowl. roll a truffle at a time in the powder and gently roll the truffles into a ball using your fingertips.
the truffles should be stored in an airtight container in the fridge. they will last up to three weeks.