Sunday, December 23, 2007

Chocolate Pumpkin Truffles

In keeping with my annual tradition, I spent midwinter day doing much of my holiday baking. I was concerned I wasn't going to be able to produce the yummy bounty I usually do, since I insisted on only using vegan recipes, but I was wrong.

The first thing I did was try my hand at converting a standard recipe to a vegan recipe. I decided to play it safe so my first attempt was with a no-bake recipe: Chocolate Pumpkin Truffles. These soft little balls of holiday cheer are quite similar to rum balls, except they are made with coffee liqueur and I think they are way better.

Chocolate Pumpkin Truffles
  • 2 ½ cups crushed vanilla wafer-type cookies (1)
  • 1 cup ground almonds(2), toasted
  • ¾ sifted powdered sugar, divided
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1 cup (6 ounces) semi-sweet vegan chocolate chips(3)
  • ½ cup organic pumpkin puree
  • ½ cup coffee liqueur or apple juice

To toast and grind almonds:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place slivered almonds in a single layer on a cookie sheet. Bake at 350 for 10 – 15 minutes, stirring every 3 minutes to ensure even color. Don’t let ‘em burn, or they’ll taste burned (duh). When they are cool, grind them in a food processor until you have about 1 cup.

To grind cookies:
Grind cookies in food processor until you have about 2 ½ cups – for me this was exactly two boxes of cookies.

To melt chocolate:
Follow manufacture’s instructions to melt chocolate chips or melt in microwave safe bowl, stopping to stir every 20-30 seconds. It doesn’t take long at all.

Combine ground cookies, ground almonds, ½ cup powdered sugar, and cinnamon in medium mixing bowl. Blend in melted chocolate, pumpkin, and liqueur or juice. Shape into 1-inch balls and place, so they aren’t touching, on a cookie sheet. At this point, as evidenced by the photo, they'll look like little dung balls. Don't be alarmed, that's part of their charm and we're covering that up later. Refrigerate until cold. Dust truffles with remaining powdered sugar or if you’re lazy like me, just roll the truffles around in it.

(1) I ended up using Earth's Best: Organic Letter of the Day Cookies in Very Vanilla because, as best as I could tell by reading the ingredients, they were the only vanilla cookies at my local store that were vegan.
(2) I used slivered almonds.
(3) I used Enjoy Life Foods’ Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips.

I put these babies to the ultimate test and offered them up to a group omnivores (some of them downright snarky about veganism) and everyone that ate them, loved them. I got lots of "Wow, these are vegan?" comments. At least two people told me the food I brought was the first "vegan food" they'd ever had. Although I know this couldn't possibly be true (Um ... you've never had an apple? or some nuts? or veggie soup?), it felt good knowing I was able to make a good impression. No, we vegans don't sit around eating chocolate truffles all the time, but we're not compulsively licking tofu containers and eating bird seed either.

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