Tuesday 31 July 2012

Mayan Chocolate Truffles

Dear readers,

Early last year during my Study Abroad Exchange at UC Davis, California, I visited Mexico during my "Spring Break". I went on a day trip to Chichen Itza and bought some real Mayan Chocolates (unfortunately, I don't have a photo of them). They were quite dry and crumbly but the flavours were delicious - dark and spicy. I tasted black pepper, chilli, cinnamon, bitterness from the cocoa and a slight sweetness of honey.

I really enjoyed these flavours so I decided to create my own version of these chocolates. I wanted to keep the same flavours - black pepper, chilli and cinnamon, but I wanted the chocolates to have a smooth, melt-in-the-mouth texture, rather than dry and crumbly. Fortunately, a very simple ganache of chocolate and cream makes wonderful melt-in-the-mouth truffles.

As I have mentioned before, I prefer my sweets to be on the bitter side. My father and I enjoy the creaminess in milk chocolate but not the sweetness from the added sugar. Also, we both love the deep bitterness of high-cocoa content chocolates but, unfortunately, there doesn't seem to be a creamy chocolate available with high cocoa and low sugar. Most creamy chocolates  have even more added sugar! So, I find that these truffles perfectly suit my taste - just cream and blissful dark bitter chocolate, with a few added spices to mimic the wonderful flavours that I discovered in those Mayan chocolates.

Mayan Chocolate Truffles
200g 80% dark chocolate
300ml double cream
2 teaspoons cayenne pepper
teaspoons cinnamon (or mixed spice)
2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
50g cocoa for dusting

This recipe makes approximately 60 truffles.

Break up the chocolate and place in a heat-proof bowl. Slowly heat the cream in a saucepan until it starts to bubble. Remove the cream from the heat, pour over the chocolate and stir until all of the chocolate has melted. Mix in the spices and pour the mixture into a cling-film lined bowl. Allow to cool for 3 hours. Once cooled, use a spoon to cut out some of the truffle mixture and roughly shape into a ball using your hands. Roll the ball in cocoa. Repeat with the rest of the truffle mixture and serve. Store the truffles in the fridge for up to one 1 week.
These are quite hot - the odd one or two are enough to satisfy! So, please reduce the amount of cayenne pepper if one prefers less heat. I chose the rustic look of the rough ball-shaped truffles, as they look similar to the Mexican chocolates. If you look closely, you can see that I also mixed some edible bronze lustre with the cocoa to give the truffles a little sparkle!

I have also included a couple of my favourite photos from my trip to Mexico - it is a truly beautiful place!