Learn how to make Neven's sensational decorative pieces for the MacNean Celebration Cake
- 200 g (7oz) plain chocolate, broken into squares (at least 70% cocoa solids)
- 100 g good-quality bar of white chocolate
- 125 ml (4 1/2fl oz) cream
- finely grated rind of 1 orange
- 250 g (9oz) plain chocolate, broken into squares (at least 70% cocoa solids)
- 125 g (4 1/2oz) butter
- 4 tblsp cointreau liqueur
- 225 g (8oz) plain chocolate, broken into squares (at least 70% cocoa solids)
- cocoa powder, for dusting
- I find that this works best in a plastic container in a microwave, as it’s quicker and saves washing up and time. However, the same process can be done in a heatproof bowl set over a pan of hot water – just remember to take the bowl off the heat when there is a small amount of chocolate that is still unmelted, then stir the melted chocolate to melt the final little pieces.
- Break up the chocolate and put it in a plastic container such as a large measuring jug. Start by giving the chocolate bursts of 30 seconds in the microwave, stirring between each burst. When the chocolate starts to melt, reduce the bursts to 20 or 10 seconds and finally 5 seconds. The aim is to stop heating the chocolate when there is still a small amount of unmelted chocolate. The final melting should be done by stirring the chocolate.
- Spread the tempered chocolate in a thin, even layer on a sheet of acetate paper. When the chocolate turns matte and is just beginning to set, cut it into 0.5cm (1/4in) strips with a trellis wheel. Carefully roll up the acetate of chocolate and secure it with sellotape until the chocolate is set.
- When the chocolate is set, carefully open out the acetate over a piece of parchment paper and the chocolate curls will drop out. Use as required.
- Using a large-bladed knife held with both hands or a cheese slice, pull the blade across the chocolate, pressing down slightly. As the blade comes towards you, the chocolate will form curls (if the chocolate is too hard, it will be brittle and will break rather than forming curls, in which case leave at room temperature for 5 minutes before trying again). You will find that as the chocolate bar gets thinner it will be harder to form nice curls. Use as required.
- Place the cream and orange rind in a pan and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat, then whisk in the chocolate and butter until smooth and melted. Stir in the Cointreau and transfer to a bowl. Leave to cool completely, whisking every 20 minutes so that the butter is evenly distributed. Cover the bowl with clingfilm and chill for 2–3 hours, until set firm, stirring occasionally to present a skin from forming.
- When the mixture is cold and set, use a melon baller to scoop it into 1.75cm (3/4in) balls. Make sure to dip the melon baller in hot water to give the chocolate mixture a better shape. Arrange on a baking sheet lined with non-stick parchment paper.
- To make the coating, melt the chocolate in a heatproof bowl set over a pan of simmering water or in the microwave. Leave to cool a little, then dip the truffles in the melted chocolate and quickly roll in the cocoa powder. Place in the fridge to set.
- To serve, arrange the truffles on a plate and hand around to guests while they are enjoying their coffee.
The curls can be made up to 24 hours in advance and carefully layered up in pieces of parchment paper in a large airtight container. Just be careful that none of the curls are touching each other or they may get damaged. Keep in a cool place, but not the fridge, as the chocolate may lose some of its wonderful sheen.
The truffles will keep well in the fridge for up to 1 week in an airtight container. They can also be frozen very successfully, but should always be left at room temperature to thaw out completely.
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