During high school, college, study abroad, graduate school, professionally and even as a stay-at-home-mom, the girlfriends I’ve made have unifying characteristics. They are smart, intellectual, accomplished women with confidence, independence and warm, wide-open hearts. I wish it were possible to unite them, from across country and globe, for a big cheese, wine and chocolate union of awesome ladies.
So, when my husband was a surgical sub-specialist resident in New Mexico, my amazing friend Sabrina (and proclaimed “sister-wife”), a nurse practitioner, often stopped by after long shifts at the hospital trauma ICU. A few weeks after my third child was born, came over after work for baby snuggling and a glass of vino. We embarked down a daunting path for a tired, new mom: pumpkin dark chocolate truffles.
The recipe was a huge flop, as the filling failed to set. Fortunately, Sabrina had brought our family a hearty, aromatic casserole to enjoy. The truffle filling was later utilized in a tender loaf of decadent pumpkin bread (you know Curls and Carrots- we don’t like to waste!).
Since then, it has been my mission to develop a pumpkin truffle recipe worthy of Sabrina. She is an amazing teacher, generous friend and dedicated mother. She is always up for a 5 AM coffee or run after work and never, ever turns down chocolate. Or pumpkin, for that matter.
We can all agree that it’s important to treat your friends with homemade food, savory or sweet- for no reason at all, just because though birthdays and holidays offer excellent “excuses.” Busy women (and men) appreciate a little something that tastes great and requires no cooking or clean-up.
Especially chocolate… Except for those outliers, an aberration from the cocoa-indulgent norm. They shall be utterly ignored in this post, but the next recipe will embrace those have yet to see the brown light.
Cooking or baking and sharing with friends and neighbors is an essential part of our social fabric. Hence, bring on the goodie bags! Winter is the best time to surprise friends: their front porches (at least in the beautiful Midwest) act as refrigerators. Wherever you live, whatever your do, giving in the most minuscule of ways to those around you enhances your quality of life tenfold and brightens someones day.
Feel free to adapt this recipe to fit your palate. The recipe’s bones are solid, not be mention healthful and clean. The ingredients are high-quality, yet economical enough for a large family. Our family adores the combination of deep, dark, rich chocolate paired with earthy pumpkin, sweet maple and orange and redolent Chinese five spice. Harmonious yet exotic, crowd pleasing but elevated.
My friend Sabrina has homemade, puréed pumpkin in her freezer year-long from her summer garden’s bounty. Fortunately for the rest of us, the organic, canned variety is readily available, still ideal and perfectly acceptable (and delectable) when used in this method.
Whip up a batch of these with your family or a friend. Who knows, maybe there will be leftovers to share?
Five Spice Pumpkin Chocolate Truffles
1/2 cup of puréed pumpkin
3/4 cup coconut manna/butter (not coconut oil), melted
6 Tablespoons pure, grade A maple syrup
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
1/4 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. Chinese five spice
The zest of three clementine oranges (or one large orange)
1/8 tsp. fine salt
7 ounces melted dark chocolate (two high-quality chocolate bars)
Maldon sea salt, for sprinkling
- Ensure that all ingredients are room temperature (except for the melted coconut manna).
- Purée all ingredients in a food processor or high-powered blender. Transfer to a bowl and cover with plastic wrap.
- Refrigerate for at least an hour or until very firm.
- Roll the truffles into one tablespoon balls and set this on a parchment-lined baking sheet.
- Place in the freezer for thirty minutes.
- Melt the chocolate over a double boiler.
- Dip each truffle in the warm chocolate, return to the same parchment-lined baking sheet.
- Lightly sprinkle each truffle with a pinch of Maldon sea salt.
- Return the truffles to the freezer for thirty minutes or until completely hardened.
- Store in air-tight container in the refrigerator for up to two weeks or in the freezer for up three months. Enjoy at room temperature.
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