27 May 2014
For me, dark dark chocolate marries particularly well with certain flavours: coffee, orange, almond and peppermint are all examples. There are others that I'm not too keen on, like lemon, violet and lavender - they sound super but just don't work, if you ask me...
Anyway, peppermint and dark, rich cacao go beautifully together, hence why supermarket aisles are groaning with varieties of chocolate mints... of the not-so-healthy variety.
Mission: create a healthy recipe
Result: totally irresistible!
Me: feeling smug about it!
You: give it a go and you'll be smitten!
Soak the cashew nuts in hot water for an hour or two to soften
Drain the cashew nuts and place in a narrow-ish container with high sides. Blend along with some water and maple syrup until you have a thick, dough-like puree. Have a quick taste to adjust the maple syrup for sweetness. I use a handheld blender but if you have one of those amazing power blenders that would be even better!
Carefully add - drop by drop - your peppermint oil, mixing in with a spoon or fork and tasting to make sure you get the correct strength (for you).
Once your filling is ready, take teaspoonfuls of the mixture and gently roll into balls - place them on a baking tray that is non-stick or that is covered in baking parchment.
In the meantime you can either melt the 85% chocolate over a bain marie (that's simmering water in a saucepan for us mere mortals ;) or you can have fun trying to get your cacao paste to the correct consistency. If the latter, I would suggest that as the cacao paste starts to soften over your bain marie, you gradually add hot water and some maple syrup and mix it in gently. You'll need to play around with quantities as you are aiming for a thick, glossy mixture which is not too thick to use for coating your peppermint centres - good luck!
Once your cacao/chocolate coating is ready, pick up one peppermint ball at a time and coat thoroughly. Lift it out with a teaspoon and place it carefully onto the baking tray.
Once you have finished the previous step you can sprinkle a few cacao nibs onto the top of each chocolate so as to give a bit of added crunch. Now pop them into the fridge to set.
Just to let you know, if you are using raw cacao paste, then it will not set quite as firmly as commercial chocolate and you'll definitely need to keep the chocolates in an airtight container in the fridge.
They last really well and don't deteriorate at all. Having said this, they're unlikely to last long as everyone in the household will end up grabbing one every time they walk past the fridge - oops! Oh well, they're full of good stuff so it doesn't matter...