These cinnamon chocolate truffles are inspired by Japanese nama chocolates. A few simple ingredients come together to make a truly spectacular confection.
When Slofoodgroup asked me if I was interested in trying their products, I was beyond excited! I LOVE gourmet ingredients, and I am always up for the challenge of creating a recipe highlighting a special ingredient. It’s so much fun cooking up ideas in my head and then testing them out!
Slofoodgroup sent me some of their cinnamon quills and vanilla beans to try out. When I say cinnamon quills, I’m not talking about what you can find at your local grocery store. Those are Cassia and, well, suddenly I’m a cinnamon snob (okay okay, they are both good), but what they sent me were Ceylon cinnamon quills. Basically, according to some basic Google research, Ceylon is “true” cinnamon, and Cassia bark is similar, but not quite the same. Cassia got marketed as a cheaper cinnamon, but now it’s basically all there is in the USA, unless you go to a specialty store or buy online.
Cassia is strong, sweet and spicy, and it’s what you have in your cinnamon rolls. Ceylon is more delicate, sweeter, and has floral notes. When you use Ceylon, I would suggest going with more simple ingredients. Rather than throwing it in to compete against other spices, like in pumpkin or apple pies, I would use it with chocolates, vanilla, or other applications where its smooth flavor can really shine. By the way, I wanted to see what it tasted like, so I just flaked off a piece and ate it and… it was actually quite good just eating plain! Kind of crazy, but it has a natural sweetness and I found myself picking at the quill and eating bits and pieces of it.
I played around with different cinnamon ideas. When I looked up ideas for using cinnamon, I kept getting cinnamon rolls, snickerdoodles, apples, etc. etc. No no no no! Those are classic American dishes and yes they are good, but I wanted to make something that was… elegant. Something that really let the cinnamon stand out. And also, something that wasn’t so AUTUMN. I also wanted it to be an option for Valentine’s Day.
Chocolate was the only way to go. Once I decided on the chocolate route, it was pretty easy for me to decide on nama chocolate. It’s quite popular in Japan, and is simple to make and absolutely delicious. It’s basically what we in America call truffles, but it’s in squares, rather than balls. The basic nama chocolate recipe is just two ingredients. Cream and chocolate.
This recipe uses dark chocolate, which tends to work well with a 3:2 chocolate to cream ratio. Now, my next question was whether to use cinnamon powder mixed into the chocolate, or to infuse the cream with cinnamon. I decided to take the infusing route, because I wanted my chocolate to be absolutely silky smooth.
I also added vanilla to the cream, to add extra warmth. By the way, when I opened the package that the cinnamon and vanilla came in, the vanilla smell wafted out and it. was. divine.
I really hope you’ll try these truffles/nama chocolate. The dark chocolate with the floral notes from both the ceylon cinnamon and vanilla bean made it so… I don’t know… just, “grown up”. It’s really something special, and if you love dark chocolate, I know you’ll love these.
Want to try out Ceylon cinnamon? Get some at slofoodgroup, and you won’t be disappointed!
If you really can’t get Ceylon, then try these out with your regular cinnamon quills. Try subbing in vanilla extract right before pouring into the baking dish, if you can’t get your hands on vanilla bean. I can’t say if it will be QUITE as good, but I think it’ll still taste delicious!