I don’t often have prunes in the store cupboard (I’m not sure why, they’re really very nice) but at Christmas they always make a welcome return to my kitchen ready to be wrapped in bacon and offered up as canapés or soaked in booze for sticky, fruity puddings. They’re one of the few fruits that get my approval to be paired with chocolate because their rich flavour brings out the fruitiness of a good dark chocolate. Prunes and chocolate are best friends with armagnac (probably because they come from the same area of France and spend long nights in the cupboard chatting in French and shrugging their shoulders at the state of my kitchen) and combine to make an indulgent, gooey truffle that you’ll have a hard time sharing.
In France prunes don’t have the same bad rap as they do in the UK, they are still revered as a regional delicacy and the Agen prune has been awarded the protected Appellation d’origine contrôlée status. There is even a museum, deep in the beautiful countryside of the Lot region, which celebrates all things prune. They bill themselves as a serious tourist attraction – their website rpoudly proclaims that they are to Agen what the champagne caves are to Reims (not that I’ve ever seem mannequin dressed in period costume in a champagne house). The museum is well worth a visit for entertainment value alone, the various exhibits show how prunes were produced, stored and used in days gone by. But the shop is something else entirely; filled with all manner of delicacies including chocolate and prune spread for your morning tartine, prune eau de vie and moreish chocolate-dipped prunes filled with a prune and armagnac cream which inspired these truffles.
Prune and chocolate truffles
- 250g Agen prunes
- 3 tbsp armagnac, cognac or brandy
- 125ml double cream
- 150g good quality dark chocolate
- chopped nuts, cocoa, icing sugar, crushed amaretti biscuits etc. to coat
Place the prunes in a small bowl and sprinkle over the Armagnac. Cover with cling film and leave at rom temperature over night.
The next day put the prunes and any liquid into a food processor and blitz to a smooth paste (it will not be totally smooth but I quite like the little bits).
Put the cream in heavy-based pan and warm gently to body temperature.
Chop the chocolate finely and, once the cream is warm, pour it over the chocolate and stir until it’s all melted.
Stir the prune paste into the chocolate, cover and chill until firm. Roll teaspoons of the truffle mix into balls and cover in the coating of your choice.