These luxuriously creamy cashew cream truffle squares are incredibly quick and easy. However, unlike the truffles made with other nondairy milks, the Basic Thick Cashew Cream used in this recipe must first be warmed gently over low heat with very finely chopped chocolate or, better yet, chocolate that has been powdered in a food processor. Smaller particles ensure that the chocolate will melt quickly into the warm liquid, resulting in a smooth ganache with minimal stirring. This recipe makes more Cashew Cream than necessary; save the rest for another use.
Basic Thick Cashew Cream
5 ounces (about 1 cup whole raw cashews, rinsed and soaked 3 to 4 hours or overnight
2/3 cup water, at room temperature
1/4 cup agave syrup or pure maple syrup, Grade B or dark amber
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1⁄4 teaspoon guar gum
7 ounces dark chocolate (72 to 75%)
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Dutch-process cocoa powder or chopped nuts, for coating (optional)
To Make the Cashew Cream: Drain the cashews in a strainer. Put the rinsed nuts into a blender and add the water, agave or maple syrup, and vanilla. Blend, starting on low, and quickly increase the speed to high. Blend for about 1 minute until the cream is perfectly smooth. Push any pieces of unblended cashews down into the cream and blend for 1 minute. Add the guar gum directly onto the cream, making sure it doesn’t land on the sides of the container. Blend on low for 30 seconds, then increase the speed to high and blend for 1 minute.
Pour 1 Cup Basic Thick Cashew Cream in a small saucepan and set aside.
To Make the Truffles: Chop or break the chocolate into pieces, then process in a food processor until powdered. Add the chocolate to the cashew cream and cook over very low heat, stirring slowly and constantly with a silicone spatula until the chocolate is about two-thirds melted, about 1 minute.
Immediately remove the saucepan from the heat and continue to stir gently until the chocolate is completely melted and the ganache is smooth. Stir the vanilla into the ganache.
Line an 8 x 8-inch / 20 x 20-cm pan with parchment paper large enough to hang over the sides. Spoon the ganache into the pan and smooth the top. (You want to make a block of ganache that is 1⁄2 to 1 inch / 1.3 to 2.5 cm-thick.) Refrigerate for 2 to 3 hours until firm and then transfer to the freezer. Freeze for 4 hours or overnight until quite firm.
When the ganache is firm, lift the block onto a cutting board with the help of the parchment paper. Square the edges with a sharp knife and cut the block into squares. If the ganache gets soft, refrigerate until chilled. (If the ganache is too soft to cut, work with half or even a quarter of the block at a time, keeping the rest refrigerated.)
Finish the Truffles
Pour the cocoa powder into a fine mesh strainer and lightly sift the cocoa powder over the truffle squares. (If the squares are very cold, the cocoa may not adhere. If that happens, allow them to soften slightly for a few minutes.) Sprinkle with chopped nuts or seeds of your choice if you like. You may also coat them in melted chocolate and cocoa powder or enrobe in tempered chocolate. Place the finished truffles in the refrigerator to set for 30 to 45 minutes.
Makes 30 To 36 (3/4-Inch) Square Truffles
Recipe from Vegan Chocolate by Fran Costigan (Running Press; October 22, 2013; $30.00/Hardcover; ISBN-13; 978-0762445912)