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Cardamom Dark Chocolate Truffles

I was one of six lucky Canadian food bloggers chosen to be featured in the holiday issue of Eat In Eat Out, Canada's first online magazine for foodies who love to eat - whether you like to cook and eat in or whether you are a restaurant junkie and love to eat out. You might be like me and fall somewhere in between and love to do both equally. We were asked to come up with two simple, original recipes for the holiday season. I always like to make a box of treats to give to friends and I try to have a good variety of sweets in there. This year there will be the same ginger snaps I make every year, meringues, these chocolate truffles and probably some toffee.

I attended a crazy, multi day Hindu wedding this summer and I cannot get the sweets we ate out of my head. I don't know what they all were but they all seemed to taste like cardamom, sugar and pistachios and everything was covered in this delicate silver foil. I LOVE shiny things and couldn't' wait for a chance to use this pretty silver foil, called Vark, on something when I got home. I found the dark in a shop in Indiatown so buying it was the easy part. Applying it was another thing altogether. I knew I didn't want to totally cover every inch of the truffles with the foil but I was kind of hoping for an organic, haphazard look which is fortunate because that is exactly what I ended up. Clearly using this stuff takes years of practice but that is no reason to not use it anyway, right? A truffle is already decadent and festive but the addition of silver to them just takes them over the top and I love them.

Cardamom Dark Chocolate Truffles
approx 30 truffles

225 g of dark chocolate (I used 70%)
1 cup whipping cream
8 cardamom pods (remove the seeds from two of the pods and crush in a pestle and mortar)
1 tbls butter
pinch kosher salt
edible pure silver leaf paper called vark

Crush 6 cardamom pods and put them in the heavy cream in a small pot. Heat until it just starts to boil, cover and remove from heat. Let it sit for at least 20 minutes so that the flavour of the cardamom can infuse the cream. I let mine sit for almost an hour.

Chop up your chocolate as finely as you can - the smaller the chop, the easier it is for the chocolate to melt properly- and put it in a non reactive bowl. Reheat the cream, adding the butter and a small pinch of kosher salt. When it comes to a boil strain the cream over the chocolate, discarding the cardamom pods. Let it sit for a minute, add the crushed cardamom and the use a spatula to stir the cream and chocolate together until its rich, creamy and fully incorporated. Congratulations because you now have a chocolate ganache! Cover this mixture with saran wrap and put it in the fridge for at least two hours or even overnight.

Meanwhile, toast the pistachio nuts for about 10 minutes in a 325F oven on a baking sheet and then let them cool to room temperature. Crush the pistachios finely but so that there is still some texture. Set aside.

Now it's time to make the truffles. Make sure your hands are as clean as humanly possible. You can use a small  melon baller, a tbls measure or a tea spoon to remove 1 tbls of the chocolate ganache at a time. Some people dust their hands with some dark cocoa powder but my truffles are already chocolatey enough so I roll them bare handed and if you work quickly and rinse your hands under really cold water every now and then, you will be fine. Roll them all until you are out of ganache into small balls, placing them on a cooking tray on a layer of parchment. When they are all rolled out, you can roll all or some of them in the crushed pistachios.

To do the silver foil layer (I only foil what will be served within the next two weeks - if you are making ahead and freezing them, I would skip the foil and do it after you thaw them out at a later date).
The vark is really fragile so work gently. Remove one side of the paper backing on a sheet and then roll your truffle onto the exposed silver foil. It is really fussy and some will stick to your fingers but just keep your hands really dry and keep pressing it into the truffles.

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