There is no escaping the matter, Valentine’s Day is looming and shop fronts across the city are resplendent with hearts and remonstrations for you to remember the "one you love" by putting your hand into your pocket. Of course one could be predictable and buy flowers, a bottle of bubbly or, the ultimate favourite, a box of chocolates. But why exactly is cocoa thought to be an aphrodisiac?
The Aztec ruler, Montezuma, drank 50 goblets of chocolate a day to enhance his sexual prowess and Casanova reputedly imbibed for similar reasons and seemingly the rest of the world has come to equate chocolate with love. And chemically there is good reason to. Chocolate contains Phenylethlamine and Serotonin, both of which are feel-good elements occurring naturally in the brain and are released into our nervous system when we are happy or experiencing passion. So if you’re looking for a natural Viagra or to enhance pleasure in your intended, a box of choccies may well be the answer. However, call us cynical, but we feel that rather lacks imagination. Show how much you care by rolling up your sleeves and making your own chocolates, or treat your love to a day’s workshop so they can indulge you. Just make sure that you are around to lick the bowl. And fingers….
Rococo Chocolates offer one-day workshops in their warehouse in Dulwich. You can choose from Making the Perfect Truffle, Making Chocolate Behave or Indulgent Chocolate Cakes and Puddings - check the website here for details. Alternatively the much acclaimed Paul Young offers courses in making hedonistic chocolate delights and patisserie in Bloomsbury, see the website here for more details.
Do It Yourself
Truffles are the easiest chocolates to make and our simple recipe will have you knocking out batches to rival the greatest chocolatiers. Much to the delight of your loved ones.
A truffle is simply a ganache – an emulsion of cream, chocolate and sometimes butter. It is possible to also make a water-based ganache which is a bit trickier but cuts the fat content dramatically. However we believe that sometimes simple is best. Just use the finest, darkest chocolate (i.e. high percentage of cocoa) you can afford and the rest, as they say, is gravy.
Tempting Truffles (makes about 60)
225g / 8oz amazing quality dark chocolate
300ml / ½ pint cream (double or whipping)
Quality cocoa powder
Break the chocolate into small pieces and put into a large heatproof mixing bowl.
Bring the cream to the boil and pour over the chocolate. Stir gently until the chocolate has completely melted. Pop in the fridge for at least three hours or overnight.
Take the ganache out of the fridge at least 15 minutes before you want to finish the truffles. Cover a tray with greaseproof paper or clingfilm.
Either put the mixture into a piping bag and squeeze out cherry sized globs onto the covered tray or, using a teaspoon, scoop out amounts which you can roll between your hands (in which case dust them in cocoa powder or icing sugar first to avoid too much sticking to your palms).
Roll the truffles in cocoa powder et voila!
You can easily flavour the truffles by infusing the cream with different ingredients when you bring it to the boil. Experiment with dried chilies for a kick, dried rosemary or lavender for a gentler flavour or even different teas for a subtle fragrancy. Also try rolling the finished truffles in finely chopped pistachios or almonds for nut lovers.
By Clare Wilkinson.