There are three good things about bliss balls and truffles. One, they are generally mixed by hand and easy to make. Two, they don't require baking and three they taste delicious. These winners can be served as snacks, with coffee after dinner or they can be a substitute for dessert.
Truffles, the chocolate variety, were so named because of their similarity from afar, to the famous fungi found underground. Looking like dark, mushrooms, truffles are regarded as a savoury delicacy. And the after-dinner chocolate variety are considered a sweet delicacy.
Mini cheese balls and meatballs are ideal nibbles to serve with drinks. Both can be prepared well in advance. Meatballs can be served in sauce in small ramekins or naked with a selection of sauces on the side for dipping.
The secret to producing perfect balls is to roll portions of the mixture — whether sweet or savoury — in the palms of your hands— not your fingers. Roll each ball for about 30 seconds. This provides good shape and the mixture adheres well.
Kitchen shops have a good selection of tiny paper or foil cups in which bliss balls and truffles can be served. A small box of these ruffled truffles also makes an attractive gift. Most sweetmeats can be frozen, however chocolate varieties may discolour.
MINI CHEESE BALLS ON PRETZEL STICKS
A favourite pre-dinner nibble.
375g cream cheese, at room temperature
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1-2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
salt and pepper to taste
Coating: 1 heaped cup paprika-flavoured potato crisps or similar
1/4 cup each: chopped toasted walnuts or pecans, finely chopped spring onions (green ends only)
18 pretzel sticks
Place the cream cheese, cheddar cheese, garlic, paprika, salt and pepper in a bowl. Mix well.
If very soft, chill for 20 minutes. Roll the mixture into 2.5cm balls. Place on a baking-paper covered tray and chill.
Meanwhile, crush the crisps fairly finely. Combine with the walnuts and spring onions in a small bowl. Roll the balls in this mixture. Insert a pretzel stick into each. Allow the balls to come to room temperature before serving. Makes about 20.
CASHEW NUT BUTTER BLISS BALLS
Peanut butter could replace the cashew nut butter. It has a stronger flavour.
1/2 cup cashew nut butter (I used Pics)
1/4 cup honey
1 tablespoon dark cocoa powder
1 cup desiccated coconut
Combine the cashew nut butter and honey in a bowl. Mix well. Add the cocoa powder then the coconut. Mix until well combined.
Using clean hands, roll the mixture into 2.5cm balls. Cover and chill. Makes about 12.
MEATBALLS WITH A SPINACH PESTO SAUCE
A selection of other sauces such as tomato, plum and mustard could also be served as dips.
Meatballs: 500g-600g minced beef
2-3 cloves garlic, crushed with a little salt
1/2 teaspoon each: thyme leaves, freshly ground black pepper
1 egg, lightly beaten
Spinach Pesto Sauce: 300g packet frozen spinach
2 teaspoons olive oil
1 onion, finely diced
1/2 cup chicken or beef stock
4 tablespoons each: sour cream, basil pesto
Combine the beef with the garlic, thyme, pepper and egg. Mix well. Roll into approximately 2.5cm balls.
Preheat the grill to high. Place the balls on a sheet of foil in a baking pan. Spray with oil. Grill for about 5 minutes each side, until cooked but not too brown.
Meanwhile, thaw the spinach. Heat the oil in a medium-sized saucepan. Sauté the onion until soft. Add the spinach and stock and bring to the boil. Simmer for 1 minute.
Purée, until smooth. Reheat and stir in the sour cream and pesto.
Use as a dip for the meatballs or serve on top and use small forks or robust wooden skewers for serving. Serves 10 as a nibble.