Creamy truffles without cream? Turn to chestnuts!

Associated Press photo by Matthew Mead -- Chestnuts save calories in fat in these creamy chocolate truffles. Show caption
Associated Press photo by Matthew Mead -- Chestnuts save calories in fat in these creamy chocolate truffles.

Who doesn’t love chocolate truffles? They are the essence of chocolate, and a sure-fire mood enhancer. Pop even one into your mouth and see if you don’t get happy.

Given the richness of a chocolate truffle — a blend of chocolate, sugar and cream — it’s nice that chocolate has been found to be good for us. Still, assuming you wanted to jettison some of the calories in this treat without sacrificing its lush flavor, where would you start?

Cutting the chocolate or sugar would be a bad idea. Both are needed.

How about the cream? But you don’t want to sacrifice the creaminess of the truffle. The solution? Chestnuts.

This brilliant work-around was discovered years ago by Sally Schneider, the author of a great healthy cookbook called “The Art of Low-Calorie Cooking.” This recipe is my adaptation of Sally’s recipe for chocolate truffles. She found that roasted and pureed chestnuts provide a super-creamy texture for treats such as truffles.

You’ll notice instant espresso in the list of ingredients. It’s there to amplify the chocolate flavor while adding a hint of coffee flavor. You can leave it out if you don’t like coffee. I also suggest adding a couple of teaspoons of any of several different liquors, all of which pair up nicely with chocolate.

But swap in any of your favorites, or none at all. Either way, you’ll be happy, guaranteed.

Spiked Mocha Chestnut Truffles

Makes 20 truffles.

5.2-oz. package roasted and peeled chestnuts, medium chopped

3/4 cup water

1⁄3 cup low-fat evaporated milk

4 ozs. bittersweet chocolate, medium chopped

1 tsp. instant espresso powder or 1 tbl. instant coffee

Pinch of table salt

2 tbls. light corn syrup

2 tsps. Tia Maria, Kahlua, Baileys, brandy or rum

1 tbl. unsweetened cocoa powder

In a small saucepan over medium heat, combine chestnuts and water. Bring to boil, then reduce heat to maintain a simmer, cover and cook until the chestnuts are very tender and all the water has been absorbed, about 30 minutes.

Add milk and heat until it just comes to a simmer. Remove the pan from the heat, add the chocolate, then recover the pan. Let it stand off the burner until the chocolate is melted, about 3-4 minutes. Stir and transfer to a blender along with the espresso powder, salt, corn syrup and liquor. Blend until very smooth.

Transfer to a bowl, cover tightly with plastic wrap and chill until very firm, at least 3 hours. Form the mixture into small balls (about 2 teaspoons each) and roll the balls in cocoa powder until they are coated, shaking off the excess. Chill until ready to serve.

Will keep, refrigerated, for 2 weeks.

Nutrition information per truffle: 50 calories (25 calories from fat = 50 percent of total calories); 2.5 grams fat (1.5 grams saturated; 0 gram trans fats); 0 milligrams cholesterol; 8 grams carbohydrate; 0 grams fiber; 4 grams sugar; 1 gram protein; 15 milligrams sodium.