Thursday, 24 November 2011

P is for... Pine nut praline truffles and chocolate dipped physalis

Pine nut praline truffles

for the praline

250g/ 10oz caster sugar
250g/ 10oz pine nuts

for the ganache

50g/ 2oz dark chocolate, chopped
50ml/ 2 fl.oz double cream
Cocoa for dusting

First, make the praline. Line a baking sheet with baking parchment. Toast the pine nuts in a dry frying pan and leave to cool. Heat the sugar in a pan over a medium heat. Don't stir it or your caramel will go grainy. Once all the sugar has dissolved and turned a deep, rich golden, take it off the heat and chuck in the pine nuts and pour the whole lot on to the baking sheet, tipping the pan away from you. Be very careful not to touch the hot caramel! Rock the sheet carefully from side to side to level out the mixture. Leave to cool completely. Break the pine nut praline up a little, before whizzing it in a magimix into fine crumbs.

Next, heat the cream in a pan until it just boils. Take off the heat and leave for one minute before chucking in the chopped chocolate. Stir until all the chocolate has melted and you have a smooth, glossy ganache. Tip in the pine nut praline and mix together. Leave to cool completely. 

Once set, use a teaspoon to scoop out small balls of ganache and roll to even their shape between your hands. Roll the truffles in sifted cocoa before placing on a serving plate.

Physalis dipped in chocolate

When Richard was in his mid twenties, his whole family went over to Bordeaux to celebrate his younger brother's 21st. During the trip, they visited OH! Légumes Oubliés, the farm park of forgotten vegetables. I defy anyone to resist visiting somewhere boasting such a name. Apparently, most of the "forgotten" vegetables consisted of strange shaped squashes. Once they'd finished their tour, they were given a selection of dishes made from all the forgotten vegetables. They were given nettle flan, glasswort and wild blackberries and "amour en cage" - or physalis, which had been dipped in chocolate. Buses back from OH! Légumes Oubliés were few and far between, so the whole Turner-Hurst clan were driven back into town by the friendly farmer. Eating weird shaped squashes makes you kinder. Fact. Richard has recreated the chocolate dipped physalis he ate there more times than he could shake a stick at, and, although not a particularly forgotten or even startlingly original recipe, it is one that comes with a rather nice story about a delightfully eccentric French farm.

We were too drunk by this point in the evening to take a photo.

Several physallis (as many as you want to eat)
Melted dark chocolate

Dip the physalis in the dark chocolate and leave to set on a piece of baking parchment. Serve just before they're rock hard, so you don't have to worry about your un-tempered chocolate "blooming" unattractively. Failing that, you can temper the chocolate if you can be bothered. It's easy enough to do, but I had about a minute and a half to make these on P night, which, after several pints of Prosecco washed down with a couple more of Port, was quite a feat in itself. 

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