My gorgeous friend Zannie and I are planning a month long trip to India and Nepal for early next year. I cannot wait. I've had a deep curiosity towards India for a few years now - I think it all began when I spent about six months of my last year of highschool studying the pop culture of Bollywood in my Society and Culture class. It was the best subject - we would watch hours long Bollywood movies and even went on an excursion to an Indian Bollywood themed restaurant, belly dancers and all.
Then I read the Indian epic novel, 'A Fine Balance' by Rohinton Mistry. It was one of those books that completely absorbed my imagination, everything about it was so vivid and real to me. I became so intrigued with life in India. Since then I've read, watched, listened, fantasised and spoke about India so much, and was lucky enough to meet someone who weirdly has the same intrigue towards this country and culture as me - Zannie.
I love travelling to places that are the polar opposite to my life at home - it's fascinating to see how other people spend their days. One of the best things about travelling is people watching, there's nothing better than just sitting and observing. And don't even get me started on Indian cuisine... the thought of four weeks of filling dhals, crunchy pakoras and satisfying aloo matar curries brings me sheer joy. I can't wait for the day we are sitting in a little alleway in Mumbai, sipping on a mango lassi, watching the world go by.
So although I may have a few more months left before I'm off running around with elephants, I have to get my kicks from cooking. Zannie just got home from a big trip to Europe, so in an effort to try to minimise any feelings of post-holiday traumatics, I decided to make her a chocolately treat to keep her mind off the impending uni semester and towards her next adventure.
I got the idea for these chai truffles from a recipe for cardomom flavoured truffles I made last year. They were ridiculously easy to make and god dam delicious. Cardomom is an amazing, distinct flavour, and quite hard to describe; it's kind of got this cooling effect like mint. This time I made the truffles I decided to add in other spices, ones commonly found in Chai Tea, to go along with my Indian theme. Whole pepper may sound weird but it's an important component in the flavour of chai tea as it adds warmth and a bit of bite. And cloves and cinnamon don't need any introduction!
Chai Spiced Chocolate Truffles
makes about 30
10 cardomom pods
3 whole black pepper corns
6 whole cloves
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon cinnamon
300g dark chocolate
300ml thick cream
1/2 cup cocoa powder
Lightly bash the whole spices in a mortar and pestle to loosely break them up and release their flavours. Add to a saucepan, with the cream and vanilla extract, and put on a low heat to slowly warm the cream up and encourage the flavours to mingle. Heat for about 10 minutes on a low heat until the cream is quite hot, but do not let it boil. Add the butter.
To make the ganache, chop the chocolate finely and add into a large bowl. When the cream is hot enough and the spices have had time to disperse their flavour into the cream, strain out the spices and pour the hot liquid onto the chocolate. Now stir constantly to encourage the chocolate to melt. Keep stirring until all the chocolate is melted and the cream is incorporated. Put mixture into the fridge for about 2 hours to set.
Once the ganache is set, put the cocoa and the cinnamon in a bowl. Get a tray lined with baking paper ready for the truffles to be placed on once they've been rolled.
To roll the truffles, use a teaspoon to scoop out a small amount of ganache. Roll it into a ball with your hands, drop into the cocoa and cinnamon mixture and completely cover. Shake off excess cocoa and put onto the lined tray. Don't worry if the balls aren't perfectly round or all the same size, that's the appeal of truffles (well that's my excuse anyways).
Repeat until all the ganache is used - the truffles are ready to eat straight away!