Va-Va-Voom vegan chocolate peppermint truffles

Whenever giving homemade treats as gifts, it's a good idea to include a little hangtag or sticker with the ingredients listed. Your friend may not be allergic to what's inside, but you never know if someone else might try some.

A lot of people get stressed out about cooking for parties during the holiday season because, despite all of the planning, shopping and preparation that goes into putting a meal together, hosts can often be surprised by guests who may have allergies or specific dietary preferences.

In the year before I decided to attend culinary school, I asked many of my clients and friends how their Thanksgivings and Christmases went, and it became clear that this was an even more common issue than I had thought. Vegetarians, vegans, celiacs, and the lactose-intolerant find slim pickings at winter feasts, causing hosts to feel guilt at not knowing how to feed them, or not having the time to throw together dishes made especially for them.

For any cooks who are looking to branch into allergy-aware treats, today's post is a great place to start.  My best tip for any apsiring holiday cook is to make sure that you have a few dishes that are friendly to many types of dietary needs. This way everyone (or almost everyone) can enjoy something. It also helps to post cute signs listing ingredients next to dishes that include possible allergens.

Va-Va-Voom vegan chocolate peppermint truffles
yield depends upon size
Prep time: 30 minutes
Cooking time: 10 minutes 


These are made from the same easy formula as the ganache cupcake topping that was listed in my top five Halloween treat recipe post. If you liked that, you're going to love this. Rich and decadent with a hint of tingly, minty flavour, today's recipe shatters the misconception that vegan food is boring or bland.

Ganache ingredients:

2 cups chopped dairy-free dark chocolate (about 300 grams)
1 cup natural peanut butter (smooth or crunchy)
1 cup coconut milk
2 tbsp plus 2 tsp granulated white sugar
2 tbsp pure peppermint extract

Extra for decorating: Cocoa powder, icing sugar, crushed toasted nuts, chocolate sprinkles, crushed candy canes, or shredded coconut for rolling.

 

Set all ganache ingredients in a double-boiler or a metal bowl sitting on a half-full pot of lightly simmering water. Wait patiently for 8 to 10 minutes.

 

Stir the mixture until it is uniform and taste to adjust, if you want it to be sweeter or mintier. Allow to cool to room temperature, then move to the fridge and chill until firm but slightly pliable.

Use a tablespoon, melon baller, or tiny ice cream scooper to pick up small amounts of ganache, and roll them quickly between your palms to make them round if they aren't already.

 

Decide what to coat your truffles in, and gently shake or roll them in bowls containing these ingredients.

Tip #1: If you roll the truffles in crushed nuts and shredded coconut, people with those allergies will be able to tell whether they're safe to eat.

Tip #2: Excess cocoa powder or icing sugar can stick to the truffles and make them taste chalky or dry. I recommend putting the finished truffles in the freezer for a few minutes so that they're hard and won't dent, then carefully dropping them one by one into a soup bowl, so that the extra powder taps off and the chocolates don't roll away.

Serve at room temperature in bowls, on plates, in tiny muffin cups, or wrap in boxes, gift bags, or cute mason jars as gifts.

Tip #3: If you're a strict vegan, or are making the truffles for people who are, make sure that the sugar you use is vegan-friendly, as granulated sugar is often filtered through bone char. If that isn't an option, 2 tablespoons of agave syrup and 2 teaspoons of cocoa powder can be substituted for the sugar.

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