Emma Crowhurst: Sweet chestnut honey truffles recipe
PUBLISHED: 12:22 12 December 2013 | UPDATED: 09:14 17 December 2013
Emma Crowhurst, chef, writer, cookery teacher
(makes about 70-80)
For the chestnut puree:
200g sweet chestnuts, shelled but not necessarily peeled.
250ml double cream
A few drops of vanilla essence
2tsp brandy or armagnac
For the truffles:
70g Suffolk honey
165g good milk chocolate, chopped into small pieces
45ml double cream
Have you tried any chocolates made with honey from Suffolk beekeepers? If you have, chances are they’ve been made by Fran and Phil at B Chocolates. Anyone who goes to farmers markets might have seen them offering their delicious homemade treats. Fran and Phil Abrams do it all, making and selling with Fran even writes a blog detailing her ‘further adventures’ as she makes their famous flavours.
They came to Suffolk for a weekend in 1995, and never really left.
They’d fallen in love with the place, not only for its countryside but also the great food. And their chocolates are becoming very sought after and most days they trade sees them selling out.
B Chocolates has been moving up in the world. It’s three years since they began making truffles and caramels with their own honey at home in Snape, and the demand has been phenomenal.
Fran tells me about their recent move. “Earlier this year we were lucky enough to be offered a new unit at High House Fruit Farm in Sudbourne, and we’ve been experimenting with the amazing wealth of produce to be found there – a particular highlight has been the flavour-packed hedgerow cherries which are marinating in brandy and kirsch for Christmas.”
She can’t resist any opportunity to use nature’s offerings. “A few weeks ago on my usual drive to work along the edge of Tunstall Forest I couldn’t help noticing lots of trees groaning with sweet chestnuts.
“It seemed like a no-brainer to stop the car, gather a few nuts and indulge in a little experiment.
The result was a sweet chestnut honey truffle – she’s adapted it slightly to make it easier to do at home. You can use shop-bought chestnuts, but please try to use local Suffolk honey if you can – all theirs is either from their own hives or from other members of the Leiston and District Beekeepers’ Association.
First make a chestnut cream. The best way to shell the chestnuts is to make a cross in the bottom of each and then drop them into boiling water for five minutes. Then shell them quickly before they cool – surgical gloves can help with this job! Then cook them with 250ml cream and other ingredients until they’re really soft – about 15-20 minutes. Push the mix through a sieve to remove the skins and make a smooth puree.
Warm the honey and double cream together and pour them over the chocolate (it helps if you warm the chocolate for 30 seconds in a microwave so that it melts easily.) Leave for one minute then stir to create a smooth ganache. Add the chestnut puree and stir in well. Leave to cool until the mix is thick enough to be piped or spooned into truffle-sized portions – you can make them any size you like but around 8-10g is good. Then leave for a few hours to set before hand-rolling into balls. Leave them overnight in the fridge to set again, then roll them in a little melted chocolate followed by some cocoa powder. Keep in the fridge and eat within a week.
You can try their range of Christmas truffles at Snape Farmers’ Market on December 7 or 21. Or you can buy at Lawson’s Deli in Aldeburgh, Pump Street Bakery in Orford, Suffolk Food Hall in Ipswich and The Deli at the Chilli Farm in Mendlesham. Their honey and sea-salt caramels are also available in all these outlets and also at Snape Maltings’ Fresh Food Pantry. And they’ll be at Suffolk Food Hall on Saturday, December 14 for a tasting, so please go along!