When I go to California, I make sure that I sufficiently pillage my in-laws citrus trees. I find an old box in their garage and toss in lemons and oranges and then listen to my husband pitch a fit about us not having enough room in the car for my fruit. I never listen to him. Although he claims that we haven't any room to spare between the suitcases and the diapers, I seem to be able to bring home a box of fragrant goodness every time. And just like dreams of sugar plums dance in children's heads, my dreams are filled with escapades of lemon curd, orange pancakes and Valencia chocolate cake. They are lovely dreams.
Before I embarked on any citrus escapades, I made sure I had a decent zester. What's a girl to do if she doesn't have a zester that can extract every bit of citrusy goodness? All of the raping and pillaging of the those trees will have been for naught. So off to Bed, Bath and Beyond I went and found a new friend. We are very close. Our first adventure together was to strip some innocent oranges of their soft orange zest. The zest then went into some melted bittersweet chocolate and heavy cream. Then that became little round balls of soft, rich chocolate rolled into crushed almonds. A beautiful arrangement of chocolate, citrus and crunch.
8 oz bittersweet or semi sweet chocolate, chopped into small pieces
Zest of 1 orange
½ cup heavy cream
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup almonds
Add chopped chocolate and orange zest to a heat-proof bowl. In a small saucepan, bring the cream just to a simmer, then pour it over the chocolate in the bowl. Let it stand for about 10 minutes or until the chocolate has melted. Stir until smooth. Cover the mixture and let stand at room temperature for 45 minutes.
Stir in the vanilla. Beat with a hand mixer until the mixture has lightened in color and holds a soft peak, about 3 minutes. Chill in the refrigerator for 15 to 20 minutes.
In the bowl of a food processor, add the almonds and process until they are coarse crumbs. Pour into a small bowl and set aside.
To shape the truffles, use 2 spoons (I used 1 tsp measuring spoons) to measure out a small ball of chocolate just as your would drop cookie dough. Rub your hands lightly in some cocoa powder to keep the chocolate from sticking. Roll the chocolate ball in your hands quickly and gently to form a perfect ball. Drop into the almonds and gently roll around until the truffle is completely coated. Set aside on a plate and repeat until all chocolate is used. Loosely cover plate with plastic wrap. Refrigerate truffles until ready to serve. They will keep for up to a week. Take them out of the fridge 15 minutes before serving.
Yields 30 truffles.