Friday, February 11, 2011

Dinner Prep

Preparing for a dinner party can take days - weeks, even, if you arrange things properly.

First you have to pick an available day and select an appropriate guest list.  (Two weeks ago.)  Then comes perhaps the most fun part: planning the menu.  I like to drag things out and make this last at least a day or two.  You've got to use all the instruments at your disposal.  Cookbooks, foodie websites, friends' suggestions, Mom's tips - all are fair game.  (Tuesday-Thursday this week.)  Grocery shopping, depending on your needs, can be a multi-trip process.  (Tesco tonight, Borough Market tomorrow morning.)  And then the cooking - oh, the cooking - will, if you follow Ina's gospel of entertaining, be spaced out over hours if not the whole weekend.  (Friday-Sunday this weekend.)

So tonight, to make the most of my quiet night in alone in the flat, I began nommy preparations for the epic dinner party I'll be hosting on Sunday evening.  Another post will more details will follow soon, but let's start with tonight's adventure: hazelnut-coated truffles.

Oh, hello.

I have to admit that I've always been scared of making truffles - nothing that delicious can be easy - but it was surprisingly simple.  I essentially used Smitten Kitchen's recipe, which was adapted from the Barefoot Contessa herself, though I skipped the liqueur due to constraints of oh-hey-I-forgot-to-put-it-on-my-shopping-list.

Hazelnut Truffles

1 c hazelnuts (obviously I bought the pre-chopped option)
7 oz chocolate (the recipe calls for 3.5 oz semisweet and 3.5 oz bittersweet but my grocery store isn't that sophisticated and so I just went with dark chocolate chips)
1/2 c heavy cream
1 1/2 tbs hazelnut liqueur
1 tbs prepared coffee
1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Prepheat the oven to 350*f (gas mark 3 for me).  Chop the hazelnuts / open the bag of chopped hazelnuts and place them on a baking sheet.  Roast them in the oven for 10 minutes.

Chop the chocolates finely / open the bags of chocolate chips and place them in a bowl.

Heat the cream in a small saucepan until it boils and then pour immediately into the bowl of chocolate.  Slowly stir the cream and chocolates together until the chocolate is melted.  Whisk in the hazelut liqueur, the coffee, and the vanilla.  Cover and chill for 45-60 minutes (mine took over two hours though I'm not sure why) until pliable but firm enough to scoop.

With a teaspoon, make dollops of the chocolate mixture and place them on a parchment-covered baking sheet.  Chill for another 15 minutes.  Roll the chocolate into the chopped hazelnuts and chill again.

Chocolate + cream + coffee + hazelnuts = pure deliciousness.  On nom nom.

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