Chocolate Orange Truffles

These are utterly scrumptious. If you need a gift for someone or you want to impress, truffles are the perfect secret weapon – delicious, pretty, and (don’t tell anyone) fabulously easy. The only thing you need to allow for is plenty of time, for the mixture to solidify. Once you’ve mastered the basic recipe, go ahead and swap the orange juice & essence for other flavourings – you could try peppermint essence, or perhaps a liqueur like Baileys.

280g dark chocolate
280ml double cream
50g butter
One orange, for juice & zest

Makes about 2 dozen truffles, depending on how big you want them to be!

First of all, break up the chocolate into chunks, ready to use later. One important thing to note – chocolate is very quick to pick up on lingering flavours, so if you can, try and keep two chopping boards and two wooden spoons, one for onions, garlic and other strongly-scented things, and one for making desserts. This is a bit less of a problem with plastic utensils, but it’s worth being careful – unless you like your cakes and puddings with a hint of garlic…

Start out by pouring the cream into a small saucepan. Chop the butter into chunks and add that, then heat slowly over a medium heat and stir gently until the butter has melted and tiny wisps of steam are rising from the pan. Remove from the heat and add the chocolate, stirring constantly until it has melted with the heat from the cream. It might not look like the heat is going to be enough but don’t be tempted to put it back on the hob – it should gradually come together into a thick, smooth mixture. Finally, grate in about half the orange’s zest and add a generous squeeze of juice. Have a taste and make sure everything’s delicious – remember, the orangey flavour will get more intense over time, so don’t worry too much if it isn’t very strong. Finally, cover the bowl and pop it in the fridge for a good four hours or so.

When you’re ready to shape the truffles, prepare by sprinkling a good deep layer of cocoa powder on a dinner plate, and lining a Tupperware box with greaseproof paper to keep the finished truffles in. Working quickly (because the chocolate mixture will quickly make a mess on your fingers…) scoop out tablespoons of mixture, roll them briefly between your palms and then roll them again in the cocoa powder, before finally popping them in the box. As soon as you’re finished, put the box in the fridge and keep the truffles in there until you want to serve them. For a finishing touch, sprinkle them with a bit of orange zest or roll them in edible glitter – this is fabulous stuff which has recently become much more widely available.