Chocolate Cashew Truffle Balls

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There is really no great name for these little treats, because they’re a cross between truffles and rum balls. So I call them truffle balls. I love to make up recipes for these bite-sized treats because just about everything works. Real chocolate truffles aren’t difficult to make, but they’re more delicate in nature. These “balls” are sturdier, with a cookie crumb base, mixed with chocolate and spices and sometimes rum or other liqueurs.

I posted on one such rum ball, namely ginger spice truffles, made with a base of gingersnap cookies, spiced with cinnamon and ginger. I created that recipe for a holiday charity event many years ago, because the ingredients are inexpensive, but the individual truffle balls are great for serving hundreds of people. But it’s really easy to only make a couple of dozen truffle balls, too.

For a dinner party, something like truffle balls are a generous treat with espresso or sherry, without being an overbearing dessert like a huge slice of cake that one feels obligated to eat.

At the bottom of this post is a guideline for creating your own truffle ball recipe. For now, here’s my most recent creation that I made for my cashew-loving husband.

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Chocolate Cashew Truffle Balls
makes about 2 dozen

8 ounces chocolate, I used semi-sweet
4 ounces or 1 stick unsalted butter
3/4 cup or 6 ounces cashew butter
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 ounces, or approximately 6 graham cracker squares
2 heaping tablespoons cocoa
2 heaping tablespoons confectioners’ sugar

In the top of a double boiler, place the broken up chocolate, butter, cashew butter, and vanilla extract. Slowly, over medium heat, let the water heat up and allow the chocolate and butter to begin melting. At a certain point, if you’re worried that the water is close to a boil, reduce the heat. The melting will continue.
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Using a spatula, stir occasionally. Remember, you’re not trying to cook these ingredients, simply melt them.
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At the point the ingredients have blended smoothly together, remove the pan from atop the pot and set aside for a few minutes.

Meanwhile, place the graham crackers in the bowl of a food processor. Process until smooth, then place in a large bowl.


Pour the chocolate mixture into the graham crackers and begin to stir.
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Make sure the chocolate and graham crackers are uniformly combined. Cover the bowl with plastic and refrigerate for at least 2 hours.

When you’re ready to make the balls, sift together the cocoa powder and confectioners’ sugar together in a medium-sized bowl and set aside.
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Scoop out the “dough” using a teaspoon or cookie scoop.

Roll them into similarly-sized balls, and then place them in the cocoa-confectioners’ sugar mixture. After you’ve made 4 or 5, toss them in the coating, then place them in a serving bowl, or a plastic bag. If you’re not serving immediately, they store very well in a sealable bag. In fact, they freeze well this way.

Right before serving, take them out of the freezer or refrigerator and let warm slightly. They are not as sensitive to melting as real truffles, but I wouldn’t put these out hours before a party, either. The texture should be firm, yet melt in your mouth.

I’m very pleased with this recipe. The cashew flavor is mild, so I’m glad I didn’t include a liqueur.

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Because of the cashew butter, there is a slight grainy texture to these truffle balls, which I don’t mind. If you prefer, simply use chopped cashews in the chocolate and butter mixture. There are so many choices.

If you want to create your own recipe for truffle balls, here are some guidelines:

1. Pick a cookie, either a flavored cookie (like gingersnaps) or a plain one (like shortbread). Make it seasonal!

2. Pick a chocolate – the sweetness of the chocolate depends on the other ingredients.

3. Pick a liqueur. Because these truffle balls are not cooked, don’t go overboard.

4. Butter is a must because it helps firm up the balls and add richness.

5. Extraneous ingredients can include nuts, crystallized ginger, chocolate chips, broken candies, dried fruits, or in this case, cashew butter. Plus, there’s coffee or orange juice concentrate. Even rosewater.

6. Seasoning, if desired, can be cinnamon, nutmeg, espresso powder, etc.

7. Pick a coating. Truffle balls need something to fancy them up a little, which can be melted chocolate into which they’re dipped, or a combination of cocoa powder and confectioners’ sugar, like I used. Adjust the ratio depending on how sweet you want the coating; just cocoa, or even cocoa mix will work just as well. I prefer my truffle balls not cloyingly sweet.

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.

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 and bourbon balls of the 1950’s.

I actually prefer making this kind of truffle, because for one thing they’re way easier than real truffles. You have to have patience to make truffles, for one thing. And, this kind also are more “stable” and less temperamental than real truffles. I usually make a batch or two, freeze them, and then whip them out for when I have company during the holidays. You can’t do that with real truffles.

This truffle recipe I actually 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. And, I’m now sharing it.

Ginger Spice Truffles

6 ounces gingersnap cookies
8 ounces bittersweet chocolate
2 tablespoons spiced rum
2 tablespoons strong coffee*
1 stick unsalted butter
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.

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

When you are ready to make the truffles, 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 chocolate 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. The chocolate will be hard, but that’s good. Then roll the truffle 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.

* My mother taught me that whenever she makes pretty much anything chocolate, she adds some coffee to it. She always added it to chocolate mousse, and hers was the best ever. So I do it, too. You can use freshly brewed coffee, or some powdered Espresso, dissolved in water. Just don’t overdo the coffee – it should be drinkable, unless otherwise stated.