Florentine Truffles

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I love to share recipes. I’m not one of those who hides them away, not revealing the “secret” ingredient in my sauce or cookie recipe. Which is good, actually, since I have a blog. It would be odd to have a cooking blog with no recipes.

But oddly enough, this is one recipe that I’ve held dear to my heart, and I have no idea why. It’s not for sentimental reasons. I copied the original recipe on an index card when I was young, from a recipe in my mother’s collection. The original recipe was actually an Italian cake recipe – Segretto della Dama. I will make it one day for the blog, because it’s delicious and quite unique, in that the cake requires no cooking.

One day about a million years ago I decided to turn the cake recipe into rum balls. I made this recipe twist specifically for a Chocolate and Champagne gala in my town. Being a local cateress, I was asked to participate, and I was happy to oblige. (I was also on the board of this particular arts council!) I ended up winning a beautiful silver platter for these Florentine truffles. They were definitely a big hit.

Truffles, real ones, are made from chocolate and cream. They are actually named after the fungus known as truffles because of their physical similarity. Sort of lumpy spheres. Rum balls, on the other hand, have a crushed cookie or cake mixed in with the other ingredients. They’re much less delicate, but that doesn’t make them less yummy. The reason I named this confectionery truffles is because they actually look like real truffles, even thought they can be categorized as rum balls.

I decided to make these “truffles” for my wedding anniversary last month, sort of at the last minute. I didn’t want to make a giant cake for just the two of us, but I knew we’d both enjoy a little sweet treat after dinner.

Normally, these rum balls are made with lady fingers – the soft kind – not Savoirdi biscuits, which are the only kind I can find locally. In the past, I’ve actually made lady fingers just for this cake recipe because it’s that good. I never pipe out the actual fingers, I just put the batter in a pan and baked it. You see, you end up crumbling and processing the lady fingers for this recipe anyway.

But without lady fingers of any kind, I decided to cheat a little, even though it’s really not like me to take some major shortcuts in the kitchen. So forgive me, but what I did was pick up a pound cake at the store. I trimmed the sides and weighed it.

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So here’s the recipe for my rum balls, or cognac balls, to be exact. I think you’ll find them exquisite, in spite of the purchased pound cake!

Florentine Truffles
This recipe makes about 2 dozen balls

1/2 cup of whole almonds, approximately 2 1/2 ounces or 70 grams
8 ounces pound cake, broken up
4 ounces unsalted butter, at room temperature
4 tablespoons finely chopped semi-sweet chocolate
1 tablespoon powdered sugar

First, toast the almonds in a skillet on the stove. Let them cool.

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Place them in the jar of your food processor and process them until finely ground.
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Add the pieces of pound cake and process again.
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You want the cake and the almonds to end up the same consistency.
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Add the tablespoon of cognac. If you want these to taste strongly of cognac, add more. I didn’t.
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Then add the butter, chocolate, and powdered sugar.

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Process until a “dough” is formed.
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Place the dough in a bowl, cover it, and refrigerate for at least one hour.
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Meanwhile, make up a mixture of 2 parts cocoa powder and 1 part powdered sugar in a small bowl. You will only need about a total of 3-4 tablespoons total for this batch of truffles. Alternatively, use a high-quality cocoa mix. I actually used Ghirardelli brand hot cocoa mix. Hmmm. Another shortcut. The cocoa powder and powdered sugar is much prettier.

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Roll teaspoon-sized balls of the dough with your hands,
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and them place them in the cocoa mixture.
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You can actually roll quite a few balls, and then toss them around in the cocoa mixture at the same time; it saves your hands from getting too chocolatey.

I like to toss the balls in the cocoa mixture, and then also roll them again between my hands, because I feel that way they look more like truffles. But you can leave them nice and powdery if you prefer.
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The only problem with these truffles is that they’re not stable at room temperature for long. I wouldn’t serve them at a party that lasted hours, unless I kept replenishing chilled ones. The butter just makes them too soft.
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Also, these truffles freeze really well. I’ve made multiple batches of them for the holidays, and just pull them out of the freezer before company is coming over. They’re a nice little treat.
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I just freeze them in sealable plastic bags. I also toss some of the leftover cocoa mixture over the top so they don’t end up sticking together.
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What you taste when you eat one of these is buttery chocolatey goodness, along with some almond and cognac flavor. They’re quite lovely! And also, what I like, is that they’re little bites.

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note: Do not adjust the ingredients in this recipe. If you add too much cake or too many almonds, there will not be enough butter to keep the rum balls soft and moist, and you’ll be disappointed in the texture. Weigh out the almonds to keep the ingredients at the proper ratio.

28 thoughts on “Florentine Truffles

  1. Well, happy belated anniversary! Thank you for sharing this recipe, which obviously is an important and crowd-pleasing one at that. It’s so nice to have recipes that belonged to our mothers (I have several as well). I am always looking for little ways to thank my clients for hiring me and it would be nice to have some of these placed into a small candy box to say “thank you.” P.S. I’m looking to replace my kitchen scale, would you recommend yours?

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    • Yes, I definitely would. Unfortunately I can’t find it right now, but the last one I gave to my daughter, and I don’t think she’s had any complaints as well. It’s very straight forward to use. I’ll try to find it for you.

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  2. I had no idea of the difference between the truffles & rum balls but I certainly wouldn’t turn down either. Love the idea of freezing them. I don’t tend to make very many cakes because with just the 2 of us we never seem to make it more than 1/2 way through before it’s stale. I can easily see freezing a batch of these & bringing out just enough.

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