I will warn you now that this is a long winded post, so pop the kettle on then get comfy. In order to make the truffles I had to first make my own speculoos biscuits so that I could then crush them up to use them in a pâte à tartiner au speculoos or in other words, a speculoos spread, to flavour the truffles with. Yes this post will tell you how to create your very own speculoos spread. Of course you could still make these truffles by cheating and buying Lotus biscuits and a jar of speculoos spread but where's the fun in that? All together there are 4 components, each requiring a separate recipe to create these fondants. None of the steps are particularly difficult or time consuming but it does require a bit of organisation. Apologies for not taking step by step photos, I was in the zone when I was filling the kitchen with the heady aroma of speculoos and I forgot all about the camera. I know, I'm a bad blogger but I am pretty impressed with the photos of the finished truffles and chocolate fondants. I toyed with the idea of dividing this into 2 posts but decided to go the whole hog and put it all in one, partly because I didn't really have any photos for the first 2 steps. The first 3 steps can be made the day before you want to make and eat the fondants as the truffles need a time to set in the fridge.
If you haven't tried speculoos before and are wondering what it tastes like, it's a rich warm comforting blend of spices made from a base of cinnamon and accented with several other fragrant spices. The picture on the right gives you a good idea of what's in the spice blend.
First step is to make the speculoos biscuits, this recipe will make more than you need but it doesn't hurt to have spare biscuits in the tin.
Speculoos biscuits - makes 40-60 - recipe adapted from Petits Plats et Dessert aux Spéculoos
500g plain flour
180g butter, softened
300g soft dark brown sugar
1 tsp baking powder
50ml water or milk, you may not need all of it
2 tbsp speculoos spice mix
- In a large bowl mix together the flour, baking powder, salt and spices, make a well in the centre and add the butter and egg. Use a handheld mixer to beat the butter and egg into the flour until you get crumbly texture. Continue to beat and gradually pour in the water or milk a little at a time until you get a smooth pliable dough.
- The book said to rest the dough in the fridge for 2 hours but I skipped this step and just rolled the dough out ready for baking. As I knew that most of these biscuits were going to get pulverised later I just divided the dough in half and rolled it out to cover 2 lined baking trays. This made 2 big slabs of biscuit which I broke into pieces when cold, doing it this way means the biscuit takes about 30 minutes to bake. If you're less lazy than me use your favourite cutters to stamp out shapes and then bake at 180C for about 15 minutes.
The next step is to make the speculoos spread, I was surprised to see that this contains gelatine as a setting agent, I thought the butter would've been enough. I have no idea what's in the shop bought version as I still haven't gotten round to buying it, this means I can't give you a taste comparison. But I can tell you that this homemade version is absolutely heavenly, sweet and spicy and delicious on toast or even just on a spoon straight from the jar. The lemon juice was also unexpected but it is necessary otherwise the spread is too sickly sweet, like a good cook I tasted as I went along. I'm not entirely sure of the shelf life but I'm keeping mine in the fridge just in case, it also eases the strain on my small crowded cupboards.
Speculoos spread - makes approx 2 jars worth - recipe adapted from Petits Plats et Dessert aux Spéculoos
400g tin sweetened condensed milk
juice of 1/2 lemon
300g powdered speculoos biscuits (approx half the quantity above) - do this in a food processor or put the biscuits in a bag and bash with a rolling pin
2 tbsp oil, I used vegetable
1 1/2 leaves of gelatine
- Soak the gelatine in cold water for a few minutes until softened.
- Melt the oil and butter together over a gentle heat. In a bowl mix the powdered biscuits with the condensed milk and then add the oil and butter mixture and stir to combine.
- Squeeze the water out of the gelatine and add it to a saucepan with the lemon juice and heat over low heat to dissolve the gelatine. Add the biscuit/milk mixture to the pan and stir until you get a smooth homogeneous spread.
- Weigh out 160g of the spread into a small bowl for use in the truffles below if making and then spoon the rest of the spread into jars and put in the fridge when cool. If you're making the truffles you'll have about 1.5 jars of spread to play with afterwards.
The third stage is where the fun really begins, now it's time to make the white chocolate truffles.
White chocolate speculoos truffles - makes about 20 - recipe adapted from Petits Plats et Dessert aux Spéculoos
100ml double cream
80g white chocolate
160g speculoos spread
1 tbsp brandy - the original recipe uses 20ml orange liqueur but I don't like this
80g powdered speculoos biscuits
- Cut the chocolate and butter into small pieces and set aside.
- Heat the cream in small pan until it is just simmering and then stir in the speculoos spread to dissolve it. Remove from the heat and add the butter and chocolate and stir until you get a smooth ganache then mix in the brandy.
- Leave to cool in the fridge until just firm enough to handle and then shape into truffles. I found it easiest to use 2 teaspoons to make the truffles as the ganache was still very soft and I didn't want to get in a big sticky mess. Roll the truffles in the powdered biscuits and return to the fridge to set. The truffles will remain quite soft yet still hold their shape, a bit different from any other truffles I've made in the past. They are very moreish though and the brandy helps to cut through the richness of the cream, chocolate and speculoos. The best thing about making truffles like this is that a 'rustic' finish is perfectly acceptable.
Finally the pièce de résistance, the chocolate fondants, these are my own creation and to be honest they are a bit of a cheat way of making them. I was completely daft in ignorantly thinking that a chocolate fondant was just an underbaked chocolate sponge made with cocoa instead of chocolate. This is despite the fact that I have watched them being made on Master Chef etc many times in the past and I read the challenge announcement post too, I am a muppet. By the time I realised this it was Sunday afternoon and the shops were shut but I carried on regardless. After all the effort that went into making the truffles I felt that I could get away with cheating a bit here.
I baked my cheats version of a fondant in silicone moulds, this is another cheat as the moulds didn't need greasing and dusting with cocoa. However this does mean that the fondants just slip straight out without any fear of sticking. The tricky bit was turning them right way up after unmoulding whilst they were still hot and fragile, I haven't yet developed Nigella's asbestos fingers.
Cheats Chocolate Fondants - makes 4
115g light brown sugar - I've started using this more in my baking as I think it gives a nicer flavour, caster sugar would work just as well instead though
30g cocoa powder
85g self raising flour
2 tbsp milk
4 white chocolate speculoos truffles
- Preheat the oven to 180C. Beat all of the ingredients except the truffles together using the all in one method as you would for a sponge cake.
- Divide half of the mixture between the moulds and then place a truffle inside each mould. Top with the remaining cake mixture to cover the truffles and then bake for 20 minutes. Even though I got a gooey centre in my fondants I probably could've got away with only baking for 15 minutes to get even gooier oozy fondants.
If you've read this far then well done, this has got to be by far my longest post but I thought if I split it into 2 that it might get confusing. After all the whole point of me making the biscuits and the spread was so that I could make the truffles to go into my fondants.
This really was a labour of love last weekend but I had great fun making everything and I still have plenty of the speculoos spread in the fridge. I even used it to make some banana muffins a few days ago, they may end up on here soon too, I'll have to make more though as again I forgot to pick up the camera!
This post is linking up with Classic French hosted by Claire from Under The Blue Gum Tree, I think she has picked a fantastic theme this month and I hope there will be more entries, even if you cheat a bit like I did.
Also into We Should Cocoa, created by Choclette and Chele and this month hosted by Elizabeth's Kitchen Diary.