Friday, 14 October 2011

Perugia... Perugina... Baci!

Every October, in the city of Perugia in Italy, a chocolate festival is held, called the Eurochocolate festival. Sadly, I'm not writing this post because I'm in Perugia to attend. (Though I do have every intention of going there some time in the next few years.) Perugia is home to the chocolate company Perugina, who produce my favourite dark chocolate ever. And my favourite of the Perugina products, is Baci - small chocolate-hazelnut truffles, coated in dark chocolate, and each individually wrapped together with a love/friendship quote which you can collect and trade.

Now I grew up taking Baci for granted, especially since they're particularly great at Christmas and there are always plenty going around at that time of year. And then I moved to the UK, and I realised, to my dismay, that Perugina is an unimported, and mostly undiscovered delight up here. Unwilling to tolerate yet another incomplete Christmas, I set out in search for an imitation recipe, and came across the YouTube site of this charming girl. Not only is her Baci recipe absolutely brilliant and simple, but I can't wait to try out her other recipes too.

Now, fortunately I can understand Italian. But for those who do not, here's the translation.

To make 20-25 Baci you will need:

100g whole hazelnuts
 40g cocoa powder
 200g Nutella
 150g dark melting chocolate

Reserve some whole hazelnuts and crush the rest. Work the Nutella, crushed hazelnuts and cocoa into a dough. Then just roll tablespoons of the dough into small balls, sticking a whole hazelnut on the top of each. Put these in the refrigerator for around 10 minutes while you melt the chocolate in the microwave or over a pan of simmering water (in both cases stirring regularly to ensure the chocolate does not burn). Coat the Baci in a thin layer of melted chocolate and return them to the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes or until the chocolate hardens. You could either leave them to set as individual truffles, or arrange them into a sheet or tower as you are assembling them to compose something really elegant!

The result? They taste so much like the real thing, and they were so easy to make, that I almost couldn't believe it. I took them to share at work, where my British colleagues, most of whom had never tasted Baci, absolutely loved them, and stated " They're kind of like Ferrero Rocher, except chocolatier and better."

Has anybody ever been top the Eurochocolate festival? - Is anybody reading this?!? :)  - If "yes" and "yes", then what was it like?