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Cumin & Tangerine Chocolate Truffles

January 10, 2011

As you know, I’ve not really done any desserts on here… and truth be told, I don’t really make that many desserts either. Imagine my panic when Jim McJim invited the Lady and me to THE Christmas meal of the year and asked us to bring dessert. Now, the Lady, she can do desserts and so decided on making a Christmas pudding. I was a little more stuck. I happen to know that Panky was bringing a dessert as well so I thought some petit fours to go with coffee (or port) would make sense – chocolate made even more sense. I originally intended to just make one flavour of chocolate truffles, but you know me; all experimental and whatnot…

It’s funny how some things just seem to come together out of nowhere. While making the chocolates, I was also cooking the Lady and me a dinner of curried cauliflower soup. I had just toasted the cumin and was cracking it when I thought I should check the ganache for, er, seasoning. That’s right: seasoning. The chocolate in my mouth just danced with my nose-full of toasted cumin. I couldn’t wait to toast more cumin, so I just chucked the lot I had to hand into half the chocolate filling and tasted again. The richness from the ganache and the bass note from the toasted cumin combined to give this deep, earthy flavour. It was delicisous, but  I worried it was too ‘heavy’, too dark a flavour, especially for an after dinner treat. I thought about adding cinnamon or star anis, but these might break the purity of the orinigal combination and then I thought of my Uncle’s near-obsession with dried Tangerine peel and Clementine oil.

I remember having to remove the pith from the peel after finishing any type of Mandarin and the fragrant punch you’d get walking into the kitchen as he dried tonnes of them in a low oven. I looked around the internet and there are millions of different ways to prepare Tangerine Powder, but in the end I opted for the simplest and most logical: grinding the dried peels. You could add spices or even candy the peel before grinding it, but I would recommend keeping it just so: fragrant, sweet and tangy.

This will make about 30 truffles… depending on how big you make them or how much ‘tasting’ is required – it’s OK, I’m not looking!


  • 30 g Butter
  • 225g Dark Chocolate (70%+ solids)
  • Pinch of Salt
  • 4 drops Vanilla Essence
  • 200 ml Double Cream
  • 1/2 tsp Sugar
  • 1/2 tsp Cumin
  • Tangerine Powder
  • 100 g White Chocolate for finishing
  • More dark chocolate for coating (about 200g should do)

Get Cooking

In a Bain Marie, melt the dark chocolate and butter with the salt (seriously!), vanilla essence and sugar. Once melted, stir in the double cream bit by bit. What we’re doing here is trying to up the fat content as much as possible to get a smooth, rich filling that melts as soon as it touches your tongue. This recipe is fairly safe but should it split, add a  splash of boiling water and whisk madly. If worse comes to worst and it splits irrecoverably, you can let it cool and the excess fat will rise; the rest should still be smooth and combined.

Split (!) the batch in two, adding the toasted cumin to one, and let them cool. Using a melon baller or measuring spoon of your choosing, scoop out little truffles and place them on baking paper in the freezer for an hour or until they are firm.

Melt the dark coating chocolate – I add a dash of flavourless oil, such as sunflower, as it seems to help keep a ‘crack’ in the chocolate and helps it stay a little less matt. Once melted, take it off the heat and let it cool until it starts to thicken, stirring every now and then. Using forks, dip the frozen truffles into the chocolate and coat evenly. Place them back on the baking sheet ready for finishing.

For the plain chocolate truffles, I drizzled some melted white chocolate over them. As for the cumin flavoured chocolate, you can either sprinkle the Tangerine powder over them before the coating sets, or heat a spoon in some hot water and melt a bit, off-centre, and sprinkle on the Tangerine Powder there – up to you.

These will keep, comfortably, for a week in the fridge. You can freeze them for a couple of months, too.


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