by Betsy Hinze at Sand or Sugar
Looking for the perfect homemade gift to give a loved one with a sweet tooth? Here's your answer! These are easy, delicious, and incredibly festive. Silky chocolate ganache in earthy winter flavors is cloaked in crisp tempered chocolate and rolled in a striking crimson coating of beet powder, which also lends it a subtle sweetness and earthy scent. Yum!
In a small saucepan, quickly roast 3-4 juniper berries until fragrant (don't burn them!) then add 1/2 c. heavy cream (I used coconut milk so I could eat them), 2 Tbs. butter (or non-dairy shortening), and 1 tsp. honey (or agave syrup if you are vegan.) Bring to a gentle simmer then shut off the heat and allow the juniper to infuse in the cream mixture for a couple of hours. I added a bonus sprig of juniper foliage, which is optional.
Chop up 8 oz. good quality dark chocolate and place in a heat-proof bowl. Heat the cream mixture back up until it just barely starts to simmer, then strain the liquid over the chocolate mixture, being sure to separate out any juniper berries. Let this sit undisturbed for 5 minutes, then stir until it's one big creamy mixture and no chunks of chocolate remain. (If they do, you can place the bowl over some gently simmering water to heat it until everything is melted.)
Place the mixture in the fridge and stir it every 5 minutes until it's thickened enough to roll into balls. Roll it into small balls and place them on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper in the fridge.
Temper your chocolate. While it is tempering, prepare your beet powder: you can purchase it pre-powdered at most health food stores, but I made my own out of some dehydrated beets I had in my pantry. I just used a coffee grinder to pulverize them into a powder and then sifted it to remove any big chunks.
Dip the balls of ganache into the tempered chocolate and then gently scoop them out with a fork. Tap the fork on the top of the bowl's rim to remove any excess chocolate (it will fall through the tines of the fork while the truffle sits on top), then place the truffle in the beet powder and gently roll it around. Remove and place on waxed paper to cool and harden. All done!