Fruit Nut Truffles

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I’m not one to make a big fuss over Valentine’s Day, but this year I decided to do a few little things just to make the day a little more special.  Last night I made these fruit nut truffles, this morning I made French toast for breakfast before we went on a lovely hike, and tonight I’m making brownies to go with some chocolate cherry ice cream I bought earlier this week.  I even told Hubby we could order pizza tonight if he wanted (he’s a sucker for take out pizza).  Maybe it’s because I have extra time on my hands while recovering from surgery that led me to want to do something, I don’t really know, but I do know that it caught Hubby off guard.  Not that he’s complaining.

Truffles have always been a bit of a mystery to me.  There are so many kinds and there are lots of different ways to make them.  The kind I wanted to make had a dried fruit and nut center dipped in dark chocolate.  After a quick internet search I found exactly what I was looking for on http://www.joyofbaking.com (they are called sugarplums on that website).  I modified the recipe ever-so-slightly and the truffles turned out beautifully (if I do say so myself) and they taste awesome!  I used 4 different dried fruits–kiwi, cherries, blueberries, and apricots–and I love the green, red, blue, and orange colors.  But the hazelnuts totally make these–their flavor is the out of this world!

Fruit Nut Truffles (adapted from Joyofbaking.com)

For the truffles:

1/2 cup chopped toasted pecans

1/2 cup chopped toasted hazelnuts*

1/2 cup dried blueberries

1/2 cup chopped dried kiwi

1/2 cup chopped dried cherries

1/2 cup chopped dried apricots

1 1/2 tablespoons maple syrup

1/4 cup powdered sugar

1 tablespoon water (you could also use fruit juice or a fruit liquor or rum)

*If you are toasting whole hazelnuts with the skins, place the hazelnuts on a baking tray and place in a 350 degree F oven for 10 minutes.  Remove from the oven and put the nuts in a clean dish towel.  Draw up the sides of the towel to form a pouch and roll the nuts around inside the towel to remove the skins.  You won’t get all of them off, and that’s okay, you just want to remove what you can as the skins can taste a little bitter.

For the coating:

5 ounces dark chocolate (I used semi-sweet baking chocolate)

1 ounce white chocolate

Place all the truffle ingredients in a food processor and pulse several times.  Run processor until all the ingredients become ground up and stick together in clumps, like this:

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Take a tablespoonful of the mixture and roll it into a ball with the palms of your hands.  Place on a wax paper-lined or parchment paper-lined baking sheet.  The balls should be about 1 inch in diameter.  I got 26 balls out of my mixture.  Place the tray in the refrigerator for about 1 hour to chill.

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After the truffle balls have chilled, melt 5 ounces of semi-sweet (or your preference) of chocolate in a glass bowl in the microwave.  Break the chocolate into pieces and heat on high for 20 seconds.  Stir, then heat for 20 seconds again.  Stir.  The chocolate should be beginning to melt by now.  You may need to heat it one more time for 10-15 seconds if you still have several large chunks of unmelted chocolate in the bowl.  A few chunks are okay, because as you stir it they will continue to melt.  Don’t overheat the chocolate or it will bake to the sides of the bowl and seize up, making it useless for covering your truffles.

Once you have a nice smooth bowl of melted chocolate, drop the truffle balls in, roll them around in the chocolate until they are completely covered, then lift them with a fork, tapping the fork on the side of the bowl to remove excess chocolate, and place them back on your baking sheet.  Repeat with the remaining truffles.  Put the chocolate-coated truffles back in the fridge for 10 minutes or so to harden the chocolate.  If you want, you can add a second chocolate to your truffles (milk chocolate or white chocolate provide a nice contrast).  While the truffles are chilling, melt 1 ounce your second chocolate in a small microwave-safe bowl as your did the dark chocolate (20 seconds, stir, repeat as needed).  To pipe the chocolate over the truffles, place a small zip top plastic sandwich bag in a coffee cup with one corner in the bottom and fold the top of the bag over the sides of the cup.  Pour the melted chocolate in the bag, lift the sides and twist the bag just above the top of the chocolate.  Snip a very tiny hole in the chocolate-containing corner of the bag and squeeze the chocolate over the chilled truffles, moving back and forth in quick zig-zag motions.  Let chocolate harden and store the truffles in the refrigerator in a air tight container.  They will keep for a few weeks, but I doubt they will last that long.

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Have you ever had chocolate covered dried apricots?  I’d never had them before, but for some reason I decided I was going to make some the other day–I like them a lot!  Just melt chocolate, dip fruit, let cool.  Easy enough.

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