17 October 2012

Hazelnut & Cocoa Truffles with Piment d'Espelette


Mistakes happen and we get over them soon enough.  BUT.  Sometimes, mistakes are stepping stones for learning.  Have we heard that too often?  And that is precisely how my life is inside the kitchen.  I take trial and error cooking episodes as ways to build a stronger foundation for my cooking because that is the time when I extract the cause of the problem and ruminate about the whole thing.  What did I do wrong after I followed the recipe letter by letter?  I think I have complained about these redundant episodes in my kitchen more than enough.  You see those brown beauties piled up together?  They were supposed to come out as hazelnut & cocoa cream, a homemade version of Nutella. They happen when you leave the mixture too long at the blender.  But I wouldn't have enjoyed them if not for my mistake.


I am currently hiding two jars of Nutella at the back of my cupboard from my daughter.  She is on an eating phase of Nutella or nothing and is ingesting a worrisome amount of sugar. 

My older son and husband eat Nutella with moderation, sometimes once in two weeks and the most frequent would have to be once a week.  Between father and son, I am not worried about their sugar intake.  After all, we need to indulge on deliciousness once in a while.  The Nutella lover in me is dormant and sleeping too heavily.  It's just too sweet for me.

My husband and I had been checking out other alternatives for Nutella.  It is an Italian icon argues my husband, but for me, it ends there.  It cannot be taken daily seeing that its sugar content is 56% while the hazelnut content is only 13%.  These kinds of percentages of ingredients astound me.  It should be called sugar cream with hazelnuts instead. 


We found an alternative of hazelnut cream with 47% sugar and 16% hazelnuts.  There's not much difference with Nutella but it's lower in sugar and is more acceptable as a transitory brand while we look for a better one. My daughter still thinks it's Nutella though.  The jar is finishing and I thought of introducing a new hazelnut cream - mine, adapted from Il Cucchiaino d'Argento Vol. 2, (The Silver Teaspoon) a cookbook of recipes for children.  Unfortunately, I left it in the blender too long and it became too compact.  It was hardly spreadable.  The taste was intensely hazelnut-ty though and I used only cocoa powder and a small amount of honey.  Ingredient wise, it's far healthier than any hazelnut cream I saw in Orsococa's comparison of hazelnut & chocolate cream Italian brands (text in Italian).  

I revived the useless compact ball of hazelnut cream by making small balls and rolling them on sweetened cocoa powder and sprinkling them with piment d'Espelette (Espelette pepper).  This pepper powder should be hard to find outside Europe.  It's from France and it's already hard for me to find it in Italy.  The taste is just a tad hotter than paprika so if you cannot find piment d'Espelette, try replacing with mild paprika.  I use paprika frequently but when I tried piment d'Espelette, I got hooked.  Paprika is milder and tastier but piment d'Espelette has the spiciness that I am looking for in cooking. 

I couldn't stop popping these truffles in my mouth.  I truly enjoyed them...alone!  My husband thought the hazelnut flavor was too intense and well, I didn't want to introduce it to my kids in its imperfect state.  I'm going to make the hazelnut cream again in another way adding more ingredients to aid in its spreadability.  Meantime, let me share with you this wonderful discovery.  Maybe you will share my opinion too.  

Buon appetito!



Hazelnut & Cocoa Truffles with Piment d'Espelette

Based on the recipe of Crema di Nocciole e Cioccolato of Il Cucchiaino d'Argento Vol. 2 da 6 a 10 Anni

Ingredients:
Makes around 25 small truffles or 20 bigger ones
  • 150 g. hazelnuts, shelled (or you can also buy hazelnuts that have already been toasted)
  • 4 tablespoons acacia honey (or similarly light honey)
  • 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder of good quality
  • sweetened cocoa powder of good quality for coating
  • 1 teaspoon (or more) piment d'Espelette (can be substituted with mild paprika)
Directions:
  1. If you are still toasting the shelled hazelnuts, scatter them in a baking pan and bake in a pre-heated oven of 150 degrees Celcius for 15 minutes.
  2. Let them cool down.  Rub them in between your palms to remove the brown skin.
  3. Grind them to a powdery consistency using a strong mini-mixer or a coffee grinder.
  4. Transfer to a blender.  Add cocoa powder and honey (adjust amount of honey if you want it sweeter).  Run until smooth.  Stop here if you want to make the cream spreadable.  If you want to make the truffles, continue blending until you see that it is becoming a compact ball.  Don't make it run too much because it might end up too hard. 
  5. Make little balls then roll them on the sweetened cocoa powder until completely coated.
  6. Sprinkle with piment d'Espelette




21 comments:

  1. I love Nutella but I never realized how much sugar there is. Thanks for the info. These truffles look and sound delicious! Sophie

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    1. I never really looked at the ingredients until recently when my daughter started eating it way too much. If you eat it in moderation, why not enjoy this wonderful hazelnut cream?

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  2. I adore the spice in these truffles. Delicious!

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    1. Thanks Laura! I loved the surprising spice too.

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  3. :) My whole family is much like your girl! We love nutella and all I need is a spoon, but we do eat it in moderation-few times a week!:)
    Anyhow your truffles look AMAZING! I could see myself in danger around them hehe..wouldn't be able to resist! Awesome recipe and mouthwatering pictures as always!!

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    1. Nutella is Nutella and everyone loves it. Eating it in moderation will help our bodies but like my daughter who eats it throughout the day, I had intervene. :-) Thanks Sandra!

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  4. It is all about making mistakes and learning but if you can turn a mistake into a plus, then all the better. These look pretty delectable to me.

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    1. I agree. When mistakes are taken as a learning step, then it's better. Thanks Suzanne!

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  5. I love the spices, and I adore these truffles!!

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  6. I think these truffles are the most delicious-looking "mistakes," ever! And I love that all the ingredients you used are natural (no corn syrup!) and healthy-ish. :D

    Gorgeous photos!

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    1. Thanks Valerie! I try to make the food as healthy as I can. And I am happy for this "mistake". :-)

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  7. These sound really good! Love the bright photos too :)

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  8. Great way to save the ingredients Weng, I know hazelnuts are not cheap so I would have tried the same thing if I would be smart enough. I look forward to what you come up with in a spreadable version.

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    1. Yes, Suzanne, I didn't have the heart to throw food with such good and costly ingredients. I'm happy that I was able to make something good out of it. Thanks!

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  9. I'm with you on Nutella. As much as I enjoy it, I seem to go through phases. After a taste of it, I'm satisfied for a long time. My jars last quite a while. I'd love to try making a healthier version at some point but I might enjoy skipping right to your "mistake" instead. The truffles look wonderful--I love spiced component!

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    1. That piment d'espelette is an addiction! LOL! After my friend sent it to me from France, I want to put it everywhere! It's good that you enjoy Nutella that way.

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  10. Hi. I clicked over from Dinner in Venice's FB link. These look delicious; I can't wait to try them!

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    1. I hope you'll like them Terree! Thanks for dropping by!

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  11. I hate Nutella! So wonderful to find someone else who finds it unbelievably sweet. I am having a similar reaction to the current craze for Biscoff cookie spread. There is a brand here called Justin's that I think is a good alternative. More sugar than these delicious looking truffles! but still more nuts than sugar. Now I want a hazelnut truffle... :)

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I would love to read what you think!