I wrote before about how difficult it was for Mr NQN and I to say "I Love You" to each other. That reminded me of a situation from back when I worked in an office. We were a typical "Office Space" company, a technology start up where very few had offices with walls and we'd find ourselves staring at neutral coloured woolly material covered partitions all day. Of course with partitions, we would hear everything that others around us were saying. Every morning I'd hear one of my buyer's pre work rituals: checking out the scores for Arsenal and browsing various adult entertainment websites (yes really).
One day he was speaking to a new sales rep and he accidentally ended off the call with the words "I Love You". He hung up the phone and I heard a groan. "Oh goddd noooo", he moaned head in hands as I meerkatted over the partition. "What is it?" I asked. "I accidentally told a sales rep I Love You". It seems that he was used to talking to his parents over the phone and was so used to ending off each phone call automatically with "I Love You" that he had accidentally let it slip to this sales rep that he barely knew. We of course gave him a lot of stick for it, she was quite a few years older than him and they were both single so any time she would ring I'd put her on hold and yell out if he'd like a sweet word to her. For his part, he'd take it good naturedly.
We always thought that he had just explained himself until it came to the Sydney Olympics in 2000."Umm can I have the day off work tomorrow? That sales rep has offered to take me to a day at the Olympics". Our jaws dropped. It seemed that this little slip of his tongue had netted him tickets to a prized Olympics event among other invitations on her arm (she was what we now know to be an early day Cougar). My how he had progressed in the world for uttering those accidental three words!
This is my shyer approach to Valentines Day. I know hearts are all very predictable but another shape wouldn't really do for Valentines Day. I decided to fill this box with home-made truffles and hiding underneath it was a home-made chocolate & raspberry truffle cake. A little surprise if you will or a "I Love You more than you thought" kind of gift for when people have finished with their layer of truffles only to discover another layer of goodness underneath. The truffles are incredibly easy to make and quite rewarding. There is one side effect though, and that is I find that I rarely buy truffles now that I know how easy they are to make, eschewing them for more complicated shapes or fillings. The truffle cake is delectably moist and gooey inside, much like how you'd like your lover's heart to be when you give this to them and the truffles are fabulous and versatile-roll them in all sorts of things and add liqueurs to them according to your taste. I do occasionally wonder what happened to my buyer and the sales rep. Are they still playing cougar and cub?
So tell me Dear Reader, what was the best present you ever received for Valentine's Day?
Chocolate Valentines Heart & Truffle Cake
An Original Recipe by Not Quite Nigella
3 eggs, separated
65g/2.25 ozs oil (a mild flavoured one like grapeseed or rice bran oil)
150g/5 ozs Nutella
50g/1.7 ozs ground hazelnuts
50g/1.7 ozs raspberry jam
A heart shaped box, not too shallow.
For White and Dark Chocolate truffles:
Makes approximately 14 white and 14 dark chocolate truffles
180g/6 ozs dark chocolate
180g/6 ozs white chocolate
150ml/5 fl ozs pure cream, divided in half
dessicated coconut to roll white chocolate truffles in
green tea powder to roll white chocolate truffles in
cocoa to roll dark chocolate truffles in
chopped pistachios to roll dark chocolate truffles in
small truffle paper cases
Buyer's tip: small *paper *truffle cases can be bought at homewares, cake decorating stores or variety stores.
Step 1 - Preheat oven to 180C/350F. Grease and line a sheet tin. In a clean bowl of an electric mixer whisk egg whites until stiff. Place in a clean bowl and then switch to a beater attachment and whisk egg yolks, Nutella, ground hazelnuts, oil and jam for a few minutes.
Step 2 - Take a large spoonful of the egg white mixture and gently stir it into the chocolate mix. Add the rest in two batches folding it through gently. Spoon into prepared tin and bake for 15-20 minutes until a skewer inserted comes out clean.
For chocolate truffles
Step 1 - Place white chocolate and cream in a heatproof bowl and melt either over a double boiler or in a microwave.Stir well until the cream is fully combined and then place in the fridge for an hour to set. Do the same with a bowl of dark chocolate which doesn't take quite as long to set (my dark chocolate ganache took about 25 minutes to set in the fridge).
_Lovely Harefield Pistachios from Jetlagmama! Look how perfect they are.
Step 2 - When dark chocolate is set, lay out small truffle cases on a baking tray. On a plate empty the chopped pistachios and on another empty 1-2 tablespoons of sifted cocoa. Using a spoon or a melon baller, scoop out a small ball of chocolate. Roll between your palms to make a ball and then roll the ball in the pistachio and place each one in a paper case. Do this with half of the truffle mix and then do the same with the other half of the truffle mix instead rolling it in the cocoa powder.
Step 3 - When white chocolate is set, lay out small truffle cases on a baking tray. On a plate empty the dessicated coconut and on another empty 1-2 tablespoons green tea powder. Using a spoon or a melon baller, scoop out a small ball of chocolate. Roll between your palms to make a ball and then roll in the coconut and place each one in a paper case. Do this with half of the truffle mix and then do the same with the other half of the truffle mix rolling it in the green tea powder.
To assemble, line the heart shaped box with greaseproof paper. Wait until cake it completely cold as it is a delicate cake and trim your cake to be in the shape of the heart shaped box and gently place cake inside the box on top of the greaseproof paper. Top with the chocolate truffles.