Forget abstinence and denial. The 'Guilt-free Gourmet' book by Irish brother and sister team Jordan and Jessica Bourke features indulgent recipes without sugar, wheat or dairy – the ingredients most often associated with weight gain, ill health and food allergies.
The Bourke siblings are well placed to write the book. Jordan is a chef and Jessica is a nutritional therapist, and together they have devised a tempting collection of recipes.
The book has a recipe to suit every occasion, from family meals to a quiet dinner for two, and this week, with Easter just around the corner, we focus on chocolate with some delicious truffles.
'The Guilt-Free Gourmet: Indulgent Recipes Without Sugar, Wheat or Dairy' is published by Ryland Peters & Small, €20
Chocolate truffles are the ultimate in stolen, sinful pleasures. I think their size may have something to do with it – in one fell swoop, you can have that ball of chocolatey goodness devoured and no one is any the wiser.
This is a recipe for the most indulgent yet guilt-free truffles you will ever taste, using a few healthy alternatives.
This may seem like a contradiction, but taste one and you will understand. Makes 24-28.
YOU WILL NEED
Handful of pecans and hazelnuts
150ml soy cream
30g coconut oil
200g dark chocolate, at least 70pc cocoa solids: 150g of it grated, the rest chopped (you can also use sugar-free dark chocolate)
1 tbsp xylitol or coconut palm sugar
Grated zest of ½ orange
Unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tsp sunflower oil
Pre-heat the oven to 180°C/350°F/ Gas Mark 4.
Roast the nuts on a baking sheet in the pre-heated oven for 10 minutes or until they have gone a shade darker. Allow to cool, then crush or finely chop with a pinch of salt.
Put the soy cream and coconut oil in a saucepan until hot and the coconut oil has melted but is not simmering. Add the grated chocolate, xylitol or coconut palm sugar and a pinch of salt while stirring quickly with a whisk. Keep whisking until all the chocolate has melted and you have a smooth mixture.
Transfer to a bowl, keeping a third aside. Mix this third with the orange zest. Allow the mixtures to cool, then cover with cling film and refrigerate for at least four hours, or until more solid and pliable.
Keep the mixture in the fridge if you can and try to handle it as little as possible, as the warmth of your hands will melt it. I run my hands under cold water for as long as I can bare to begin with.
To shape the truffles, dry your hands, then coat them in cocoa powder. Take a teaspoon of the mixture and quickly roll it between flat hands until you have a neat ball shape. Then place on a plate in the fridge. Continue until you have made all the mixture into little truffles, doing the same with the orange-zest mixture.
Refrigerate for at least one hour, or until fully cool.
To make chocolate-coated truffles, melt the chopped chocolate and sunflower oil in a heatproof bowl over a saucepan of simmering water, making sure the base of the bowl does not touch the water.
Insert a skewer about 1cm into the base of one of the truffles, then dip it into the melted chocolate, quickly swirling it around to make sure it is completely covered.
Using a second skewer, slide the truffle off the tip and on to a plate lined with parchment paper. Continue until you have coated half of the plain truffles. Once the chocolate has set, put the plate in the fridge until ready to serve.
Roll the remaining plain truffles between warm hands to soften the outside slightly, then roll in the nuts until completely covered and place in the fridge. Roll the orange-zest truffles in cocoa powder and shake off any excess. Refrigerate with the others.
Remove the truffles from the fridge about 10 minutes before you want to serve them. You can place them in little paper truffle cases or pile them into a little bag as a gift.
They keep well in the fridge but are best enjoyed as soon as possible, which won't be a problem!