At seemingly every event from non-profit gala to wedding I’ve attended in the past few years, I’ve walked away with chocolate. It’s such a great way to start or end the evening with — the gift of a bite or bar of chocolate. In the midst of planning our sustainable Jewish wedding, which is now only one week away, my fiancé David and I thought it might be nice to also give our guests a similar sweet welcome at their place setting. In the past few months we have made many food-related decisions about our wedding. From the meal we wanted to serve to the favors we made for our guests, it was important that our environmental and Jewish values were expressed.
If you’ve been following our sustainable Jewish wedding planning on the blog, you know that we’re quite hands on with the preparation, we felt it was crucial that we prepared this sweet greeting for our guests. At first, we attempted to make one of my favorite and super-healthy desserts, kanten, a Japanese jello-like dessert is made from fruit juice and agar, though, we figured not everyone would enjoy this seaweed derivative. So we changed our sweet to the more universally enjoyed chocolate truffles. Fortunately, I had made vegan chocolate truffles for a wedding in St. Louis recently, so I had a recipe I knew would work.
Many people have told me point blank that we shouldn’t be doing so much — “just buy it,” is a refrain I’ve heard countless times. But we love the homemade touch and I love working with my hands and in the kitchen (it is my profession of choice, after all). I know I’m not alone, especially with Jcarrot readers.
To escape from the stress of wedding planning I cook. And so making these truffles, only days before our wedding will actually be a stress reliever for me, and that’s something I am grateful for (even though I’m probably also avoiding work that needs to get done!). While the goal of the wedding may be “mesameach chatan ve kallah”, to make the bridegroom and bride happy, these chocolates will hopefully also sweeten lives of our guests, just a little bit and make them smile as they reach their tables after the ceremony.
The beauty of truffles is that they’re easily adaptable to different tastes and they keep well, so they can be made ahead of time and even frozen and. You can flavor your truffles with just about anything, from liqueur to spices. My favorite truffle is Mexican chocolate — spiced with cinnamon and cayenne, and rolled in a mixture of chili powder and sugar. I’ve also made raspberry truffles with the addition of raspberry extract and seedless raspberry jam; and mint chocolate truffles with plain chocolate mixed with vanilla extract, and rolled in cocoa powder and mint, which reminds me of my favorite ice cream. A quick Google search will lead to countless varieties.
They’re also almost sinfully easy to make. It’s essentially ganache rolled into a little ball. Ganache is a simple icing or glaze normally made from melted chocolate and cream, but I like to use coconut milk. Not only do I love the flavor of coconut milk, but it makes them pareve. As I learned the hard way, chocolate cannot be melted on its own directly on the stove, as it will burn. In this recipe, you heat up the coconut milk and oil and pour the hot liquid over the chocolate chips. It is also a good idea to combine the chocolate and milk one day ahead of your plan to use it, as it often takes quite a while to harden the chocolate. If it’s too soft it will just melt in your hands. I also recommend having a box of gloves on hand, as your hands will get incredibly chocolaty! Also, keeping your hands as cool as possible is advisable – I know a pastry chef who keeps a bowl of ice water next to her when she makes truffles!
On an aside, making truffles is the perfect activity for a Shabbat lunch or dinner. I once did not have time to finish scooping and rolling out truffles so I simply placed the bowls on the table and everyone had a go at making their own truffles — the kids especially loved it.
Vegan Chocolate Truffles:
Yield: Approx. 24 tablespoon sized truffles
1/2 cup coconut milk
1 tablespoon coconut oil
pinch sea salt
8 oz. good quality semi-sweet chocolate, finely chopped or ground (or chocolate chips - I used Trader Joe’s because they are pareve)
For Mexican truffles:
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon almond extract
Other flavors to try:
Seedless fruit jam
Spices (including chili powder, curry powder, sumac, cinnamon)
Items for rolling truffles include:
3 tablespoons chili powder + 3 tablespoons sugar, mixed
1/4 cup cocoa powder
1/4 cup toasted unsweetened coconut
1) Bring coconut milk, oil, any spices and salt to a simmer in a small pot.
2) Put chocolate in a separate bowl and pour the hot milk mixture over the chocolate, covering completely. Let sit 2-3 minutes and stir to blend completely.
3) Transfer the mixture into a clean bowl or shallow pan and place in refrigerator or freezer to harden (this can take 30+ minutes, can easily be done a day ahead!). You want it to be scoop able, but not soft. If it’s soft it will melt.
4) Wearing gloves (you can buy non-latex gloves at a drugstore or a food supply store), and using a small ice cream scoop (I like a #70 scoop - 2 teaspoon), scoop out the mixture into small balls.
5) Place toppings in a shallow dishes and roll chocolate in the toppings. They don’t need to look perfect like in a candy store – these are homemade!
6) Place on baking sheet and allow to firm up in the refrigerator. These can also be tightly wrapped and frozen. Serve chilled.
Elisheva Margulies is the founder of Eat With Eli, a natural foods culinary service based in St. Louis.