Red roses, romantic evenings spent over the flicker of candle light, declarations of love and, above all, the ubiquitous presence of chocolate. Valentine’s Day is nearly upon us and it is a holiday rife with conflicting emotions and sentiments.
Whether you love or loathe this day dedicated to romantic love, one thing is for certain – chocolate consumption will peak mid-February.
Valentine’s day does hold some odd and quixotic traditions, and the giving of chocolate can be seen as one of them. Why gift chocolate? Why not a nice 12-ounce rib eye, or aged bottle of tequila?
One explanation is: tradition. We do it because we have always done it. Cocoa was one of the prizes of Columbus’ foray into the new world and he brought it back to Europe with as much pride as he did his hoards of gold. From then it spread, first as a drinking chocolate and then once more refined – and sweetened – as an eating chocolate. It was a luxury product. It is assumed that in 1861 Richard Cadbury marketed the first heart-shaped chocolate box for Valentine’s Day, and the rest is history.
This year, instead of schlepping to the store and picking up one of those heart-shaped boxes (sorry, Mr. Cadbury), why not try your hand at making your own confection? It is surprisingly easy – and just a bit messy.
Here we have broadened the flavour of typical truffles by infusing the chocolate ganache with a generous dose of Kentucky bourbon, which compliments the chocolate’s inherent bitterness and leaves a dulcet and spicy finish. The addition of honeyed bacon and Maldon sea salt act as a spirited counterbalance to the saccharine, whilst also adding texture to these soft, melt away sweets.
While this makes a thoughtful and traditional gift for you valentine, it’s also a great treat for yourself – so gifting them is entirely optional.
(Makes 30 truffles)
10 oz. dark chocolate
250 ml heavy cream
2 oz. unsalted butter
4 tbsp. Bourbon
3 strips of bacon
1 tbsp. honey
4-6 tbsp. cocoa powder
1 tbsp. Maldon salt
Edible gold dust – optional
Finely chop chocolate and place in a large glass bowl
In a medium saucepan combine cream, butter, and bourbon and bring to a simmer
Pour the heated cream mixture over the chopped chocolate and whisk to combine into a glossy ganache
Chill the mixture in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours
While mixture is chilling, preheat oven to 375F
Arrange bacon on a parchment lined baking sheet and bake for 20-30 minutes, or until crisp
Remove bacon from oven and drain on paper towel and allow to cool completely
Once cool, brush the bacon with honey and chop into small shards
Once chocolate ganache is cooled it is time to assemble the truffles
Prepare a parchment-lined cookie sheet, a bowl with the cocoa powder, the salt, and honeyed bacon bits
This will be messy!
Drag a cookie scoop through the ganache to form a ball
Dust your hands with cocoa powder
Gently – and quickly! – roll the chocolate ganache ball between your palms to achieve a round globe shape
Roll the truffle in the cocoa powder to coat evenly
Once all the truffles have been rolled, you may dust with edible gold powder (if using)
Garnish the truffles with honeyed bacon and a sprinkle of Maldon salt
Allow to harden in the refrigerator for at least another hour
Store in the fridge