Fancy chocs with Heinz ketchup were £20 at Fortnum & Mason – so I made my own for £3ish

An unusual treat for your funny Valentine?

With Valentine's Day on the way, love is in the air, and so is the pressure to overspend on flowers and chocolate. So when I spotted ultra-posh department store Fortnum & Mason selling boxes of nine chocolate truffles for £20, I set about trying to make my own. Oh, and did I mention they have KETCHUP in them...

Personally, I love ketchup, and chocolate, but I’m vegan so the traditional milk and white chocolate truffles – as well as the ganache centre – aren’t my thing. My head was full of questions. Would I be able to make indulgent ketchup-flavoured vegan and dairy-free truffles for a fraction of the £20 price of the posh ones? Would they be edible? Should I call them ketch-ocs? Could I feed them to my unsuspecting colleagues? Challenge accepted.

They're cute, but how do they compare?

What are truffles made from?

After a bit of research, I discovered you don’t need much to make truffles – usually double cream, chocolate, and some cocoa powder for dusting. Having picked a simple recipe online that I could veganise, off I went to Asda, Aldi, and Home Bargains to pick up the items I need as cheap as I could find them. The prices I paid are below, but could be different in your local shops. 

Ingredients I bought Price in supermarket Cost/amount used
🥥 Coconut milk 69p/400ml 32p/188g
🥥 Coconut milk (posh) £1/400ml 55p/221g
🍫 Dairy-free white chocolate 39p/25g (x10) £3.90/250g
🍫 Dairy-free milk chocolate 49p/45g (x4) £2.45/225g
🍫 Cadbury's Bournville £1/100g (x2) £2/200g
🍫 Aldi dark chocolate £1.45/125g £1.65/100g
🍫 Cadbury's Bournville cocoa powder £2.99/250g 90p/5tbsp
🍅 Heinz ketchup £2/650g 6p/4tsp
🍇 Balsamic vinegar 59p/250ml 2p/1 1/2tsp
Total cost £15.99 £11.85

Since I don’t have the ingredients list of the F&M truffles, I was left to decide them myself. As ketchup has ‘umami’ or ‘the fifth taste’ I added a dash of balsamic vinegar, which I thought might enhance the flavour.

To avoid buying pricey vegan double cream, I made my own coconut cream using a vegan MoneySaving cooking hack (for more tips see my Vegan MoneySaving recipes blog).

To get coconut cream, you simply put a tin of coconut milk in the fridge overnight, which should separate the cream from the liquid. In my experience, super cheap tins of coconut milk (eg, 59p version at Aldi) don’t separate. So I bought different tins at Asda - one for £1, one for 69p - to see how much I could get out of each one, and whether price matters. As you can see from the table above, I got 33g extra coconut cream from the pricier tin, however, it did separate a lot better and the leftover coconut water tasted nicer.

The total cost of the ingredients I used is £11.85, which made 56 truffles (about 21p/truffle, or £1.90 for nine). Of course, you may not want to make this many, and you may already have some of the ingredients in your kitchen – so the actual cost of making these will vary. I also spent £1 on the heart-shaped box, which came from Poundland, so in total my nine truffles came in under £3.

I would have had some melted chocolate left over, but I used it on a cake I made for MSE Oli's birthday.

How do you make them?

There are loads of basic truffle recipes online which you can use to get more of an idea, but essentially the process goes as follows: heat up cream, pour over chocolate, leave to set in fridge, scoop out ganache, dust with cocoa, freeze, cover in chocolate and leave to set. It seems the trick to making them look professional is to get them all the same size and shape, so I borrowed a melon baller (thanks Rosemary!) to help with this – just to get that Insta-worthy look.

Don't think I did too badly eh?

The MSE office taste test

Out of 22 people, nobody who tried them at MSE Towers guessed correctly that the secret ingredient was ketchup - although one got the balsamic vinegar. Most thought it was brandy or another alcohol. All 22 said they thought they were tasty, and 12 people said they'd pay £20 for nine, if it were as a special gift. Once people knew there was ketchup inside, most said they couldn't taste it and all still enjoyed the flavour. So I'm taking this as proof that I'm good at making truffles!

Making truffles is reasonably easy, but it is time consuming as you have to leave the coconut milk in the fridge overnight, then let the ganache filling set for about four hours, then coat the truffles in chocolate, then let them set again. It took me about eight hours start to finish to make 56 truffles. So I suppose it’s this time and the skill of the chocolatier that mean F&M can charge £20 for nine. Sadly nobody offered me that much for my efforts!

Would you try ketchup truffles? Have you made your own chocolates at home to save money? Let me know in the comments below, or on Twitter.