Valentine's Day your own way with chai spice truffles

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Valentine's Day can throw the best of us into a wild panic. How to show the one you love the way you feel without succumbing to cliches? You know what I mean — booking a table at a romantic restaurant for the set steak dinner with a side of heavy breathing couples, or buying a bunch of roses on the way home. Always lovely, but never original.

Best to avoid both, in my opinion. What everyone wants is to feel like they're being thought about or cared for. For me, making something for someone does exactly that because it's a simple act of love. It need not be a pudding flambe or an Eiffle Tower-high croquembouche, just something special.

These chai spiced chocolate truffles are perfect. They are dark and dense orbs, made using good quality 70 percent dark chocolate infused with cream and the gorgeous sweet spices ordinarily used in chai, including ginger, cinnamon, cardamom and cloves. They can be made in advance, then refrigerated, leaving you more time to spend with your loved one. They are perfect eaten after dinner and with a little dessert wine or just nibbled slowly all by themselves.

They don't just have to be for your partner, either. Valentine's Day is fast becoming a time to appreciate everyone you love — father, mother, siblings and friends.

Chai spice chocolate truffles

Start to finish: 2 hours 25 minutes (25 minutes active)

Makes 48 truffles

Ingredients:

8 ounces dark chocolate, roughly chopped

1 cup heavy cream

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1 teaspoon ground dry ginger

1/4 teaspoon ground cloves

1 teaspoon sugar

1/2 cup cocoa powder

Directions:

Set the chocolate in a medium bowl. Set aside.

In a medium saucepan over medium, combine the cream and butter. Heat until the butter melts and the cream starts to bubble. Be careful not to burn the cream. Pour the hot milk mixture over the chocolate, whisking to melt the chocolate until you have a smooth mixture. Add the cardamom, cinnamon, ginger, cloves and sugar. Mix well, then refrigerate for at least 2 hours, or until firm.

To make the truffles, place the cocoa powder in a bowl to one side. Using a melon baller or small cookie scoop dipped in hot water, scoop out a little of the firm chocolate mixture and shape into a ball. To coat, roll around in the bowl of cocoa powder until well covered. Store in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.

Nutrition information per truffle: 50 calories; 40 calories from fat (80 percent of total calories); 4 g fat (2.5 g saturated; 0 g trans fats); 10 mg cholesterol; 0 mg sodium; 3 g carbohydrate; 1 g fiber; 2 g sugar; 1 g protein.

Meera Sodha is an Indian foods expert and author of "Made in India: Recipes from an Indian family kitchen."


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