Ginger Spice Truffle Balls

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By definition, truffles, the chocolate kind not the fungus, are made of chocolate and cream only. These I call truffle balls, which are a throwback to the rum balls of the 1950’s.

I enjoy making truffle balls, because for one thing they’re way easier than real truffles. They’re also more “stable” and less temperamental, because of a cookie or cake base.

When I make truffle balls, I typically make a batch or two, freeze them, and then whip them out for when I have company. You can’t do that with real truffles.

This truffle recipe I came up with when I was doing the food for a charity event benefiting our local SPCA. So many people loved these things and fortunately I kind of remembered what I’d done, and thus, a recipe was born.

Ginger Spice Truffle Balls

6 ounces gingersnap cookies
8 ounces bittersweet chocolate
4 ounces unsalted butter
2 tablespoons strong coffee
2 tablespoons spiced rum
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
2 tablespoons cocoa powder
3 tablespoons sifted powdered sugar

Run the cookies though the food processor until fine crumbs. Place them in a large bowl and set aside.

In the top of a double boiler, place the chocolate, butter, coffee, and rum. Over gently simmering water, melt the ingredients completely. Stir in the cinnamon and ginger. Remove from over the heat and let cool for a few minutes.

Pour the chocolate mixture over the cookie crumbs. Using a rubber spatula, combine the chocolate and the crumbs completely. Cover the bowl with foil, and place the bowl in the refrigerator for about four hours.

When you are ready to make the truffle balls, get the bowl out of the refrigerator.

In a small bowl, mix together the cocoa powder and powdered sugar well. Have a small spoon and a re-sealable bag handy.

Using the spoon, grab a little of the chocolate-cookie mixture and rub it with both of your hand in a circular motion to make a ball. It shouldn’t be larger than 1″ in diameter. Roll the truffle ball in the coating and place it in the bag. Continue with the remaining chocolate-cookie mixture. You can pour the remaining coating mixture into the bag if you wish.

Refrigerate the truffles or freeze them.

If you freeze them, thaw in the refrigerator first, then put them in a bowl about 30 minutes or so to warm up before serving.

It’s just as easy to double the recipe. Or triple it.

These are really nice for company. Just have some ready to eat at room temperature, and nobody has to eat a slice of cake to please the hostess/host!

Beet Hummus

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Firstly, I have to clarify that this recipe is not a true hummus. Personally, I don’t really love hummus. I mean, it can be good, but there are a lot of bad ones out there – at restaurants and pre-packaged at stores like Central Market and Whole Foods. Some are too lemony, some are tasteless, and sometimes the hummus is mealy. I prefer a softer, smoother texture that I get from using white beans instead of garbanzos.

So this recipe is actually a white bean dip recipe made with beets. There is no lemon and no tahini and no garbanzos. It’s just sometimes easier to say or write hummus, rather than white bean dip!

I recently made beet ravioli again, and this time I used canned whole beets to see if there was a difference in the beet filling, as compared to using roasted beets. As it turns out, that there wasn’t any difference.

With all of the many different variation of white bean dip I’ve made over the years, I’ve never included beets, and I decided to change that immediately!

For the beet ravioli filling, the cooked beets are finely processed, placed in cheesecloth in a colander over a bowl, and weighted down. This serves two purposes – the juice is collected for a reduction, and the beets dry out to create a denser filling. So keep in mind that these beets have been squeezed “dry.”

So this is what I did today:

white bean and beet dip

White Bean and Beet Dip

1 – 15 ounce can Great Northern white beans
1/4 cup minced cooked beets
2 cloves garlic
1/2 teaspoon of ground cumin
Pinch of salt
Olive oil, about 1/4 cup
Olive oil for drizzling
Valbreso, or other feta cheese, optional

Drain the white beans well in a colander. I give mine a rinse as well.

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Place the beans in the jar of a food processor. Add the beets*, garlic, cumin, and salt.

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Process, pouring in a little olive oil at a time until the mixture is fairly smooth. Scrape down, and process until the bean dip is smooth.

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Serve immediately, with pita triangles or crackers. If desired, drizzle a little olive oil on top of the dip.

A little crumbled feta cheese on top is also tasty!

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* You don’t have to squeeze the liquid from cooked beets for this recipe, but you may not need as much olive oil if you don’t. Just add the oil slowly, until the proper consistency is reached.

note: The next time I make this, which I will, I will use 1/3 of a cup of beets, instead of the 1/4 cup I used. The beet flavor is surprisingly a bit subdued. I could used less garlic and cumin, but I really was after that beet, garlic, and cumin flavor combo!

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If you’re interested in my other white bean dip recipes on which I’ve posted, check out my white bean dip that started it all for me, and another White Bean Dip!”

Rosemary’d Dip

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Bean dips are delicious and versatile, and easily enjoyed year round. One of my favorites is my personal white bean dip with spices, which was printed in Gourmet magazine.

This one is similar in the use of white beans, but instead of spices, I only use fresh rosemary. So if you like rosemary, you’ll love this dip.

I don’t know if this is as much a dip or a spread, since I typically serve it with a spreader, especially with guests. Whatever you choose to call it, it’s a soft, spreadable purée of rosemary- and garlic-flavored white beans.

It can served in a bowl alongside breads and crackers, as I have, or creatively topped on crostini for a prettier presentation.

And let’s not forget the healthful benefits of beans. It’s wonderful to enjoy a delicious appetizer that’s actually good for us!

Rosemary’d White Bean Dip

2 cans Great Northern Beans
Scant 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
3 cloves garlic, peeled
1-2 teaspoons chopped rosemary leaves*
1/2 teaspoon salt

First place the beans in a colander. Rinse and let drain.

Place the drained beans in the jar of a food processor. Add the olive oil and garlic cloves and purée until the mixture is smooth.

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Always process the garlic first to ensure there are no pieces of garlic left, then proceed with the recipe.

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Scape down the puréed beans in the jar and process again.

If you’ve picked your rosemary early in the day, simply stick them in water to keep them fresh. I routinely do this even though I’m not sure how much it helps! I figure it can’t hurt.

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Then add the rosemary leaves and salt to the beans and process by pulsing. If you think the purée could be a little softer, add another tablespoon of olive oil.

If you’re making the white bean dip about 3-4 hours before serving, definitely make it on the soft side, because the beans will absorb the oil. But I wouldn’t make it any earlier then 3 or 4 hours and definitely don’t refrigerate it; the texture changes.

Place the dip in a serving bowl and serve at room temperature with assorted breads, and/or crackers. Vegetables are good with it, too.

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* Rosemary’s pungency can vary. Start small, you can always add more. But whatever you do, don’t use dried rosemary.

note: You could certainly use garbanzo beans in this recipe, but I prefer white beans for dips. You can see how soft and smooth they are in the photo after they’ve been pureed with the oil and garlic. In my experience, garbanzo beans never get this smooth, which is why I prefer white beans. I’ve heard that if the garbanzos are peeled, they will become smoother, but I’m not about to bother with that extra step.