Food & Drink: Tasty truffles: here's how to do it

THESE truffles are simple but messy to make. They will taste as good as the chocolate you use. Do not use whipping cream, and if you buy creme fraiche make sure it does not have starch as a thickener. Roll truffles in good-quality cocoa powder, never drinking chocolate. The best cocoa powders are either Dutch (Van Houten) or French (Barry).

Ingredients: 250g (9oz) dark chocolate

5 fl oz (142ml) double cream or creme fraiche

cocoa powder for dusting

2tsp (or to taste) cognac, armagnac or malt whisky

Preparation: Chop chocolate by hand or in a food processor into pieces no larger than a big raisin (a long job if you are doubling quantities). Bring cream to the boil (it will not work if you only warm it), and pour on to the chocolate. Stir until cream melts chocolate. Add the spirit. Leave mixture to cool, stirring occasionally. This may take some time, especially if you double quantities. But do not put it in the fridge: it will cool unevenly and be harder to handle. (If short of time, put mixture on a cold window ledge.) When it is firm enough to form into soft balls (test at 15-minute intervals), do so with the aid of a teaspoon - and disposable gloves if you want to stay clean.

Form into truffle shapes and roll in cocoa. Allow to cool completely out of the fridge, and store in an airtight box in a cool, but not refrigerated, place.

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