I would never suggest that the amazingly talented and experienced bakers who follow this site ever put a foot wrong. But when I had my teashop & patisserie, and was baking cakes every day, there were times when things didn’t turn out quite perfectly. Perhaps it was a new assistant in the kitchen, or a recipe that needed several attempts to get just right. But whatever the cause, if I found myself left with something I couldn’t proudly put on sale, I was faced with that glum feeling that all those good ingredients were going to waste. Until one day, my ever-resourceful mother asked me why I wasn’t making rum truffles. Not those dainty little confections of chocolate ganache dusted with cocoa powder or in an almost non-existent crisp chocolate coat, but the big, stick-to-your-ribs balls of cake crumbs, glued together with jam and dark rum, and rolled in chocolate vermicelli. The sort of thing your English grandma might have tucked into, when the Vicar came to afternoon tea.
So when, a couple of weeks later, a new chocolate cake recipe resulted in four cakes which had all sadly sunk in the middle, I decided that all that flour, butter, eggs and good Belgian chocolate and cocoa would make the perfect starting point for an experiment: or, what to do, when good cakes go bad.
Chocolate Rum Truffles
Makes 18-20; all quantities in this recipe are approximate and can be adjusted to taste, as long as the mixture is firm enough to retain its shape.
800-825g chocolate cake crumbs
170g caster sugar
270g smooth apricot jam
125ml dark rum (or more to taste)
150-180g dark chocolate vermicelli
1. Cut the chocolate cake into pieces and then run them through a food processor, to create a fine crumb. This way, even the harder bits of crust get reused and you don’t need to waste anything. But if you don’t have a food processor, you can crumble the cake finely between your fingers and discard any recalcitrant lumps.
2. Combine the cake crumbs, sugar and cocoa in a large mixing bowl. Add the jam (sieving it if necessary, to remove any large pieces of fruit) and then the rum.
3. Knead to a sticky but firm paste, and then form into balls of around 75g by rolling between your hands. Then, while still warm and soft from your touch, roll in the chocolate vermicelli, in a small bowl. Place into paper cases and chill until required. If possible, leave out of the fridge for 20 minutes to warm up slightly before serving.
Oh, and the first batch I made, all those years ago ? Well, they all sold; one regular customer ate two; and the next week, I was making extra chocolate cakes, just to have some spare to turn into chocolate rum truffles.