Saturday, 18 December 2010

The Sloe Gin Set

Three months after starting off this year's sloe gin, today was the day to decant it. But this year, I decided to try something new. It always seems like a waste to throw away the "used" sloes when the gin is bottled. Several years ago, I read a feature in Country Living about a company that makes sloe gin, and then uses the lees to make sloe truffles. I thought that sounded lovely, so this year I thought I'd google a recipe. On the Sloe Biz website, I found one (thanks, Sloe Ranger). The recipe follows. In terms of skill it's fairly easy; but it is time-consuming and a bit fiddly, especially stoning the sloes. I don't know if a cherry stoner would be small enough to be helpful, but I did it by hand. The fatter, riper sloes are easiest, as you would expect - the stone comes away more easily. I didn't use all of the fruit, so I've frozen what's leftover. When I make this again in the new year, it will be interesting to see of the softened, defrosted sloes give up their stones more easily.

They are gorgeous, by the way. But next time I would probably add more sloe gin to the ganache to give a stronger flavour. 

Drained sloes ready for stoning

Stones on the left, 150g of stoned sloes on the scales. I froze what was left in the bowl for use another time.

Stoned sloes. Rather than crushing with a mortar and pestle, I whizzed them in the food processor after this.

A tray of sloe ganache

Ganache rolled into balls. This is a tricky (and messy) bit: you need to work quickly and get the ganache soft enough to roll, but not so soft it's melting in your hands. As you can see, getting a uniform size was not one of the strengths of my execution.

Dipped in chocolate and boxed

Boxed truffles (some milk chocolate-coated, for The Chap) and the bottled sloe gin. It's almost Christmas!

And finally the recipe, from I didn't use the hazelnuts, but if you do, let me know how they are.

Sloe Truffles

You will need: 

25g/1oz unsalted butter 

75ml/3fl oz/5tbsp double cream 

225g/8oz good quality Belgian chocolate 
75g stoned sloes, broken up and softened with a pestle and mortar 
2 tbsp sloe gin 

To Finish: 

100g Very good quality chocolate (I use Green & Blacks 72% cocoa cooks chocolate, this really does make a superior truffle. Its high cocoa content gives you the 'hit' of chocolate without the sharpness of a plain chocolate) 

Chopped roasted hazlenuts 

1. Line a Swiss roll tin with baking parchment 

2. Place butter and cream in a small saucepan and bring slowly to the boil, stirring constantly. Boil for one minute then remove from the heat. 

3. Break the Belgian chocolate into pieces and add to the cream. Stir until melted, then mix in the sloes and sloe gin. 

4. Pour the mixture into the prepared swiss roll tin and chill in the fridge for about 2 hours until firm. 

5. Break off pieces of the mixture and roll into balls. Chill for a further 30 minutes before finishing the truffles. 

6. To finish melt the Green and Blacks chocolate. Dip the balls into the chocolate on a fork allowing the excess to drip back into the bowl. Carefully cover the truffle with the hazlenuts by putting it into a small dish or saucer of the nuts and covering it with the hazlenuts by hand. 

7. Place the truffles in paper cases and refrigerate to set. 

Tip: The truffle mixture needs to be firm but not too hard to roll. If the mixture is too hard, allow it to stand at room temperature for a few minutes. During rolling the mixture will become sticky but will reharden in the refrigerator before coating. 

The chocolates can be kept in the fridge for about two weeks.