These Chocolate Hazelnut Goat Cheese Truffles were supposed to a bagel spread. For months, it’s been in the back of my head — an easy way to bring a homemade touch to a mostly, picked-up-last minute brunch. It seemed like a plan: a couple-ingredients, Nutella-ish mixture, smeared over a bagel, next to fruit and maybe an egg dish.
But then, I was dumb. Faced with goat cheese in my fridge that needed to be used, I decided last week to go for it. But, as I was mixing, at 4pm on a Wednesday, I realized what I was doing. Why did I think midweek was a good time to make something intended to be spread over bagels? I obviously didn’t have bagels in the house, nor did I plan on buying them the next morning for myself. And, what should have been more pressing: what was I actually going to make for dinner that night?
After I stirred everything together: chopped bittersweet chocolate, toasted hazelnut pieces and the soft creamy goat cheese, I noticed how firm it all was and, also, how rough it was, thanks to the shards of mix-ins. I imagined spreading a scoop over a freshly baked bagel and tearing up all of the bread, with those pointy hazelnut pieces. And, then before I really had time to think about my next steps, I stuck my hand in the bowl, grabbed a small piece and rolled it easily into a perfect ball.
Yes! Little chocolatey, nutty, tangy balls, easily scooped, easily rolled. Once assembled, though, they looked plain, so I sighed a really loud sigh, all alone in the kitchen, toasted more hazelnuts, chopped more chocolate and started rolling. And that’s when I realized how much they looked like truffles. That’s also when it hit me, why on a Wednesday at 4pm, do I need Chocolate Hazelnut Goat Cheese Truffles?
But, it was time to move on. I coated a few more in cocoa powder, left a couple unadorned and tossed all of them into the fridge. The next night, thankfully, I was headed to my sister’s for dinner, so I packed them in my bag.
They were OK, but I couldn’t quite the shake the feeling that something wasn’t right. I wasn’t looking for a very sweet mixture, but the bittersweet chocolate was not helping the situation. And, while I wanted hazelnuts to play a big part, the large pieces were overwhelming the entire truffle. Plus, I had added a few sprinkles of kosher salt, which were oddly, really distracting.
I know that when you change a recipe, you’re supposed to deal with one thing at a time, but I had a pretty good feeling how to fix these. Instead of adding a couple tablespoons of confectioners’ sugar, as I had originally considered, I changed the chocolate to semisweet, and increased the amount. Meanwhile, I kept the hazelnuts the same, but chopped them pretty small. Finally, when I coated this batch, I experimented with a few different options, in addition to the originals: confectioners’ sugar and cocoa powder mixed with confectioners’ sugar.
As expected, the moisture from the goat cheese absorbed the first layer, but a second coating did the trick, turning them into little doughnut hole-lookalikes, which could be surprising or disappointing, depending on who you are. They’re not incredibly goaty, if that’s a worry of yours, but I don’t think you’d be able to fool someone who is a proclaimed goat cheese-hater, either.
These are an easy solution when you don’t want to turn on your oven to make dessert or are looking for a sweet, but not over the top way to end a meal. Or, you know, you could buy cream cheese and bagels, like most of us do, and put these out on a plate, alongside the fruit and eggs at your next easy brunch, if you, too, are hellbent on serving at least one thing homemade.
Lately, I've been toasting my nuts, on a paper plate, in the microwave. Depending on the size and the amount, it takes about 4-5 minutes. I typically start with one minute increments, shaking the plate between each round, and changing to 30 second increments once they begin to change color. The negative: the microwave, if you're against them and this only works on a paper plate. The positive: no dirtying a skillet or sheet pan and no turning on the oven. If you're not a fan of the microwave, you can bake them for 5-6 minutes, on a rimmed sheet pan in a 300°F oven, or until golden and fragrant.
For the coatings, keep in mind that they all react differently. The chopped hazelnuts and chocolate need a bit of help adhering, but once they're on there, they're not going anywhere. The straight confectioners' sugar coating dissolves a bit, even with a second coating, and makes the outside tacky, but the sweet layer is a nice touch. I found that I really loved the confectioners' sugar and cocoa powder blend, which lent a softened, mild bitterness to the truffle.
- 8 ounce soft goat cheese, at room temperature
- 1½ teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1 ounce chopped hazelnuts, toasted and cooled (see note, above)
- 4 ounces semisweet chocolate
- Coating Options (Optional)
- Chopped toasted hazelnuts
- Chopped semisweet chocolate
- Whisked cocoa powder
- Whisked or sifted Confectioners' sugar
- Whisked or sifted cocoa powder/Confectioners' sugar blend
- Worth repeating from the note above. When making these: set your goat cheese on the counter to soften and come to room temperature, toast your hazelnuts and let cool completely, then chop your chocolate.
- In medium bowl, mix together goat cheese and vanilla extract with a wooden spoon. Stir in hazelnuts and and chocolate and mix well to completely combine. Using hands, roll goat cheese mixture into teaspoon-sized balls and place individually on a pan.
- To coat:
- Place coatings in small mixing bowls. Dip balls in, a couple at a time, and shake, or lightly press, to coat. The hazelnuts and chocolate will need a bit of gentle help to adhere to the truffles. The cocoa powder will easily cover. The two confectioners' sugar options will need to be coated at least twice, a couple minutes apart (coat all of them, then go back around and coat them again).
- Transfer to a container; mine were fine touching. Store in the refrigerator for up to four days.
• The chocolate can be chopped one day ahead of time. Store tightly at room temperature.