Are you looking forward to V-Day next week? Seems most people either love it or hate it. Being from the “never too much schmaltz” school of romance, I love Valentine’s Day. Even during all those years before I met the HH, I’d always endeavor to celebrate somehow. I’d send cards to my friends or my sisters. I’d invite a gal pal for dinner so we could sip Shiraz together and muse about how few good men there were out there. One year, I think I even bought myself roses (must have been my “I am woman, hear me roar” phase).
Last year, I composed a fairly elaborate (and, as I recall, extremely disorderly) meal for the HH and me. Given my frenetic schedule these days working on the book (the Index is done! The book has officially moved from the “writing” to the “production” stage! Whoo!), I assumed I’d have no time to repeat last year’s amorous performance (I meant preparing the meal, silly! You crazy romantics, you!). But then I saw Susan’s post about this year’s Vegetable Love contest, and how could I resist? (Not that I find Fatfree Vegan Kitchen’s charms any more alluring than those of the HH, you understand).
The contest asks you to create a romantic dish using one or more vegetables of your choice. Last year, I came up with a Vegan Molten Chocolate Cake recipe using puréed zucchini and spinach. I loved the taste of the cakes, but the molten filling was temperamental–sometimes it formed a lovely, floating cloud of lava in the center of the cake, as it was supposed to do; other times, the filling got sucked up by the batter and all that remained was a tiny disk of tar-like chocolate at its core. You’d think I’d give up on sweets with veggies in them. But no. . .
As I’m sure I’ve mentioned before, sweet potatoes are my favorite vegetable. I love sweet potatoes in just about anything (or, as I’ve seen the phrase skipping around the blogosphere lately, I lurrrve sweet potatoes). When I was on the anti-candida diet several years ago, sweet potatoes became my favorite veggie (and my favorite brekkie). They’re a healthy vegetable. They’re orange. They’re sweet. And their name sounds like a term of endearment: “Oh, why so coy, my little Sweet Potato? Come on over here and let me help you out of that peel.” Why not use them as the basis for a sweet filling in a Valentine’s Day truffle, then?
This year’s recipe really should have made it into the cookbook–it’s that good. What you’ll end up with is an insanely creamy, smooth, rich-tasting truffle filling, vibrantly orange and steeped in citrus flavor. In fact, no one would ever guess it contained one of the world’s healthiest roots. I fed 0ne of these beauties to the HH, and he literally licked his fingers clean, enthusing, “This tastes exactly like a really fine quality, high-end chocolate!” This from a guy who’d normally consume chocolates with cream, butter and white sugar. “There is no trace of sweet potato flavor in these,” he went on. “All you taste is the orange” (enhanced with a splash of Cointreau–though you can use orange juice if you prefer alcohol-free confections).
Even if you’re not into chocolates, the filling on its own makes a fabulous, versatile frosting. Rich and fluffy, sweetened with agave and boasting the added fiber of the sweet potato, I’m guessing that the total GI (glycemic index) of this frosting is fairly low and could be used successfully by those on a variety of restricted diets. (See instructions in the Variation, below).
I’ll definitely be making these again for V-Day (the half-batch I concocted is already long gone). Even if you don’t celebrate the Big V, it’s worth making a batch of these. Give yourself a little gift of Vegetable Love this year.
This is my submission to Susan’s contest. You have until tomorrow at midnight to enter if you’re so inclined!
Spiked Sweet Potato Truffles or Truffle Cups
1 cup (240 ml) packed sweet potato purée, from one very large sweet potato (see instructions)
3 Tbsp (45 ml) organic cornstarch or arrowroot starch, plus up to one more Tbsp (15 ml), if necessary (see instructions)
finely grated zest of one large organic orange (I used a microplane grater)
1/4 cup (35 g) light spelt flour
1/8 tsp (.5 ml) fine sea salt
1/2 cup (120 ml) plain or vanilla rice milk
2 Tbsp (30 ml) Cointreau or liqueur of your choice (Frangelico also worked well in these), or substitute orange juice
1 tsp (5 ml) pure vanilla extract
Chocolate Coating or Cups:
1 cup (200 g) sugar-free chocolate chips or chopped semisweet chocolate
1 tsp (5 ml) refined organic coconut oil (or use unrefined if you don’t mind a coconut flavor)
Make the sweet potato purée in advance: Preheat oven to 400F (200 C). Place unskinned sweet potato on a baking sheet and bake until very tender, about an hour. (You can boil the sweet potato instead of baking it, but I find the flavor is vastly inferior that way.) Allow to cool, then peel and purée the flesh in a food processor until very smooth.
Measure out 1 scant cup (230 ml) of the purée and reserve the rest for another use. Return the one cup purée to the processor along with the cornstarch and coconut oil, and blend until very smooth.
In a small, heavy-bottomed pot, whisk together the flour, salt and agave nectar until smooth. Add the rice milk slowly and whisk until incorporated; sttir in the orange zest. (Combining the flour and agave first before the milk helps to prevent lumps from forming).
Cook the mixture over medium heat, stirring constantly, until it begins to bubble and thicken; lower heat to simmer and cook, stirring constantly, for about 30 more seconds. The mixture will thicken very suddenly and you’ll need some muscle power to keep stirring; it will end up like a very thick paste or glue. (A silicone spatula is useful when stirring, as you can scrape the sides and bottom of the pot to prevent scorching). Remove from heat and stir in the liqueur and vanilla until combined.
Turn the hot mixture directly into the processor bowl with the sweet potato and whir until the mixture is perfectly smooth and creamy. It should be soft, but stiff enough to hold a shape.
If the mixture is too thin to hold a shape, it may be that your sweet potatoes were moister than mine (the amount of moisture in the potatoes will vary from batch to batch). You can try one of these two things:
To thicken the filling (only if necessary): 1) Melt an additional 2 Tbsp (30 ml) coconut oil. With the processor running, slowly add the oil to the mixture and blend it in. It should thicken up nicely. OR, 2) Add another 1 Tbsp (15 ml) cornstarch to the processor bowl, and blend it in to the mixture.
For truffles: Pour the filling into a deep bowl and refrigerate until cold and firm, at least 3 hours. Then, using a melon baller, mini ice cream scoop or teaspoon, scoop balls of filling onto a cookie sheet that’s been lined with plastic wrap; place in the freezer until firm.
Once the truffle filling is frozen, proceed to dip the truffles: In a bowl set over a pot of simmering water (the bowl should be large enough that the bottom of the bowl doesn’t touch the water), melt the chocolate and coconut oil together until smooth. Using two forks held facing each other, dip the truffles one at a time, tapping the forks on the edge of the bowl to release excess chocolate, and place them on the plastic. Allow to firm up in the refrigerator (they will actually begin to firm up fairly quickly because of the frozen filling) Using more melted chocolate, decorate tops with swirls or heart shapes if desired. Store in the refrigerator, but serve at room temperature. Makes 12-15 truffles.
For chocolate truffle cups: Set the filling aside while you prepare the chocolate cups. In a bowl set over a pot of simmering water (the bowl should be large enough that the bottom of the bowl doesn’t touch the water), melt the chocolate and coconut oil together until smooth. Use about 3/4 tsp (3.5 ml) to coat the bottom and up the sides of 12-15 mini foil cups. Place the cups in the freezer for a couple of minutes to firm up.
Using 1-2 tsp (5-10 ml) of filling for each cup, fill the chocolate cups with the sweet potato mixture and smooth the top. Return to the freezer for another 5 minutes or so until the tops of the filling are firm.
Cover each cup with another 1 tsp (5 ml) chocolate, and spread it gently to cover, ensuring that the chocolate is sealed at the edges and no bits of sweet pototo show through. Keep refrigerated until firm, then remove from fridge , immediately peel off the paper cups, and allow to come to room temperature before serving (these are much better served at room temperature, but the cups will stick to them if you try to unwrap them once they’re no longer cold). Makes 12-15 truffle cups.
Frosting Variation: After the filling is prepared, turn it into a deep bowl and refrigerate until cold and very firm, at least 2 hours.
Using electric beaters, beat the mixture until it begins to lighten both in color and texture (it will become airy and fluffy). Use as desired to frost cupcakes, cakes, etc. Makes enough to frost a single 9″ (20 cm) round or square layer.
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Last Year at this Time: My Mother’s Potato-Corn Chowder