The last of the autumn sloes

sloe ginMy husband and I love sloe gin. We didn’t realise just how much until we discovered that our 2 litre home-made stock from last autumn was severely depleted by late spring of this year! We don’t have a drinking problem, in fact we rarely drink, but there is something about this delicious fruity spirit that keeps us going back for more. Combined with sparkling wine – Champagne if you really want to push the boat out – it’s truly sensational, much like a Kir Royale, and very, very drinkable – hic!

But not only is it drinkable it’s also very tasty in edible form combined with chocolate. I was inspired to make sloe gin chocolate truffles to use up some of the many gin-steeped sloes that you are left with after finishing the bottle. It seemed like a waste to ditch them. “Why not eat them?!” I hear you cry. Well I did of course: WOAH what a mistake that was! Whilst the drink is scrumptious, the berries are bitter and super strong (in a bad way). However, when added to chocolate in carefully controlled quantities their flavour and bitterness mellows and subtly but distinctly flavours the chocolate to give an intriguing and delicious truffle.

The recipe also contains some sloe gin in addition to the berries, so if you haven’t got any home-made sloe gin to hand and all the associated berries, you can simply leave them out (or even substitute with another fruit, maybe cranberries) and just use store-bought sloe gin. But I do urge you to make your own sloe gin – it’s super easy (recipe below) and way better than anything available in the supermarkets. It’s generally a bit late in the year now for foraging, though my husband and I only got round to picking ours last weekend and were relieved to find berries a-plenty! That is, there WERE berries a-plenty…but then we arrived. Sorry!

Recipe – sloe gin

1 litre gin
666g sloe berries
333g caster sugar

1. Decant half the gin into an empty 1 litre bottle.
2. Divide the sugar between the two bottles.
3. Prick the sloes several times (or freeze to burst the skins) before dividing between the two bottles. Stop adding berries once the liquid reaches the top of the bottle.
4. Store in a cool, dark place for several months, inverting the bottles every week or so to help the sugar dissolve.
5. Strain through muslin and decant into clean bottles. Your sloe gin is ready to enjoy for Christmas!

Recipe – sloe gin chocolate truffles

TrufflesI have to say I made these truffles before I realised just how damn good sloe gin is to drink. To solve this issue of potential sloe-gin “wastage” we have been very savvy and picked extra sloes this year to ensure enough to satisfy the…ahem… thirst and the belly!

55g stoned, gin-soaked sloe berries, crushed with a pestle and mortar (or chopped into small pieces)
2 tbsp sloe gin
170ml double cream
25g unsalted butter
225g dark chocolate (53% cocoa solids minimum)
small pinch of finely ground black pepper (optional)
100g dark chocolate (70% cocoa solids minimum)
toasted hazelnuts, crushed, and/or unsweetened cocoa powder.

1. Grate or roughly chop the chocolate into a medium-sized bowl.
2. Heat the cream and butter together in a saucepan over medium-low heat until boiling point, stirring all the time.
3. Pour the butter and cream over the chocolate and whisk together until all the chocolate is melted and the mixture is well combined.
4. Stir in the sloe gin, berries and a pinch of black pepper to the chocolate mixture and pour into a shallow bowl or tin.
5. Allow to cool at room temperature for several hours until the ganache has set more firmly and can be handled. You can cool the mixture in the fridge but keep an eye on it as you don’t want the ganache to set too hard.
6. Dust your hands with cocoa powder and roll the ganache into small balls (about the size of a walnut). The truffles can be eaten like this or decorated by dipping into melted chocolate, followed by a sprinkling of chopped toasted hazelnuts, or simply rolled in cocoa powder.

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