Hazelnut Truffles with Bailey's

This Valentine's Day, since both Ron and I are (purposefully and strategically) unemployed, we're going the handmade, low-budget route. Our latest obsession seems to be food, food, and more food, so we're whipping up something special for each other. While he is in the kitchen knocking out our dinner of shrimp scampi with handmade fettuccini, I'm sharing my culinary success with you: Hazelnut Truffles with Bailey's. Delicious, decadent and indulgent, and this coming from a anti-sweet-tooth who prefers fruity snacks over chocolate (What!?) I know.

This is a first for me. From the research I did, handmade truffles were supposed to be easy and simple (the way i like it), and indeed they were! Plus, the finished product rivals the store-bought counterparts in taste and appearance at a fraction of the cost. Double, no, triple bonus! Simply anyone can do this.

mmmm...hazelnutty yummy goodness...just try NOT to lick the spoon!

I adapted this luscious recipe from My Baking Addiction blog, substituting crushed walnuts for the hazelnuts and Bailey's Irish Creme for the Frangelico. You can adapt this as well with the nuts and liqueur you have on hand. Try a dark rum, or St. Germaine perhaps. How about crushed pecans or almond slivers? The only thing i would have added would have been some sea salt to the nut mixture for a little savory pop or rolling them in cocoa powder before the nuts to counter the sweetness of the Bailey's.

Ingredients (yields 20-24 truffles)
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 10 ounces of semi-sweet chocolate (chopped fine or morsels) [You could use a high-end brand like Ghiradelli's or Baker's, but the Nestle semi-sweet morsels worked well for us in this recipe, and i had a coupon!]
  • 1/2 cup Nutella
  • optional 3 tablespoons Bailey's liqueur (or liqueur of your choice)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract 
  • 3/4 cup finely chopped walnuts (or nut of your choice)

First, get the water in a double boiler simmering (My homespun double-boiler method involves a sauce pan inside a 3 quart pot). Add the butter until halfway melted then add the chocolate, Nutella and heavy cream and stir like crazy, until the mixture comes out super smooth (see below). You can taste test; you should taste test. This, folks, is ganache. In other words: rich, chocolaty goodness!

Set the mixture aside to cool for 5-10 minutes (because we wouldn't want all the alcohol to burn off now would we?) then stir in the Bailey's and vanilla. Pour the mixture into a shallow dish (like an 8x8 pyrex), cover and place in the fridge for approximately 2 hours, or until it becomes harder, but still malleable.

Use a 1 inch melon baller, or two teaspoons (i used my tablespoon measuring spoon) to scrape out the chocolate. (A miniature assembly line works best here as this gets messy.) Scrape out a few balls (5 or 6) and then roll each one in your hand, shaping them into approximately 1 inch balls (actually the size is up to you, but 1 inch balls will yield you between 20-24 Nutella nuggets.) After about 5 or 6 balls, your hands will be quite coated with a thin layer of chocolate. I then give my hands a good rinse (or lickin'...jk) and then roll each ball in the chopped walnut.

Place each ball on a parchment lined cookie sheet and repeat with the remaining ganache mixture. Leave in the fridge for another hour or more (if you can resist) and then enjoy! In the fridge, these bad boys will last 3-4 days, if you need them too.

They are indeed rich. I made mine a bit bigger, thus yielding 20 truffles and while Ron has a chocolate sweet-tooth, i do not. I can eat only 1 in a sitting before i want to reach for the bag of salt and vinegar chips. Needless to say,  I have some pretty fortunate neighbors...Comin' at ya, Lynn.

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