These infamous Nipples of Venus (Capezzoli di Venere) confections are featured in the 1984 film Amadeus. Described as "Roman chestnuts in brandied sugar," they are actually chestnut and brandy-infused chocolate truffles covered in white chocolate. Delectable!
Amadeus has been one of my favorite movies since childhood. It's not a children's movie by any means, but my entire family has been watching and loving this Academy Award-winning film since it was first released. My sister and I can quote the entire movie by heart!
If you haven't seen it, and have an appreciation for classical music and Mozart, definitely check it out. It's an incredible film, although I'm not a huge fan of the director's cut. I prefer the original version which is less available these days, unfortunately.
Setting the Scene in Amadeus
Mozart's wife Constanze secretly brings a portfolio of Mozart's work to court composer Antonio Salieri. She wants him to consider Mozart for an important job.
Salieri, a glutinous Italian who is jealous of Mozart's talent, offers Constanze a refreshment called Capezzoli di Venere, Nipples of Venus. Constanze giggles because their name is incredibly naughty, as is their appearance. Watch their interaction in the video clip below!
Researching Nipples of Venus
Salieri describes the treats as Roman chestnuts in brandied sugar. Looking for recipes for Nipples of Venus online is an interesting challenge. There doesn't seem to be a single official way to make these confections.
I found some recipes that top the white chocolate-covered mounds with pink dots. Others dot the tops with dark chocolate. Yet others cover the filling with dark chocolate and finish with a white chocolate dot instead. The filling also varies, where some recipes suggest other nuts as opposed to chestnuts.
Back in the 1700's, I'm not sure how this dessert would have theoretically been made (if at all), so it's all conjecture since online recipes are inconclusive.
I researched various versions and put together the recipe that made the most sense to me. In the movie, the embellishments on top are dark brown, so I decided to stick with dark chocolate to finish my creations.
I piped a small dollop, whereas in the movie it appears to be more like a flat brown disc. Regardless, this is about as accurate as we can get without sources from the 18th century to set us straight.
How to make them
These Capezzoli di Venere are quite scrumptious! I can't blame Constanze for stealing a second one when Salieri isn't looking. The filling is chocolaty, buttery, and delicately nutty with the warm essence of brandy to tie it all together.
Making the filling is the easiest part. First you blitz the chestnuts in a food processor until they are finely chopped. Then in a stand mixer you combine room temperature butter and sugar, then add the chestnuts, melted chocolate, brandy, and vanilla extract.
If the mixture is rather soft, simply refrigerate until it's firm enough to scoop. The easiest way to shape them is using a small ice cream scoop to yield uniform truffles.
I'm not typically a white chocolate fan, but I think it plays an important role to soften the dark chocolate flavor within. The most complicated part of the process is coating the truffles with tempered white chocolate.
You can try a different technique for coating the truffles if you prefer, but I think mine worked well. I put each truffle on a fork and spooned white chocolate over the top. Once the excess dripped off, I carefully pushed it off the fork and onto a piece of parchment to dry. I hate waste, so I wanted to conserve the white chocolate and not just drip it willy nilly over a rack.
I'm obviously not a candy-maker, and my "Nipples of Venus" may not look quite as smooth and polished as those in the film, but I think they turned out better than expected and they are truly delicious sweets I'd be happy to share with friends and family.
If you're a fan of Amadeus, or intrigued to try a decadent dessert with a really fun name, this recipe is for you. They are great at both Christmastime and Valentine's Day, although I enjoy them any time. As an aside, I actually visited many of the shooting locations from Amadeus when I visited Prague. Check that out as well for a fun blast from the past!
If you try this recipe, let me know in the comments what you think!
Capezzoli di Venere (Nipples of Venus)
- 8 ounces dark chocolate, chopped
- 16 ounces whole chestnuts, canned, jarred, packaged–drained if packed in liquid
- 5 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
- ⅓ cup granulated sugar
- ¼ cup brandy
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 15 ounces white chocolate, chopped
- 1 ounce dark chocolate, chopped
- Make a double boiler by setting a heat-proof bowl over a pot filled with about 1 inch of simmering water, so the bottom of the bowl does not touch the water. Add 8 ounces of dark chocolate to the metal bowl, stirring occasionally until melted. Set the chocolate aside to cool to about room temperature.
- Place the chestnuts in a food processor and process until finely chopped/pureed. Set aside.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together the butter and sugar until pale and creamy, about 3 minutes. Scrape down the sides and add the melted chocolate, pureed chestnuts, brandy, and vanilla extract, and beat until thoroughly combined. The mixture will likely be relatively soft, so refrigerate it for about 15 minutes or so until it is slightly more firm so you can easily scoop it out, and have it hold its shape.
- Line a sheet pan or a couple cafeteria trays with parchment paper. Use a small 1 ½ tablespoon capacity ice cream scoop (#40 size) to scoop the chocolate/chestnut mixture into small mounds onto the parchment. Refrigerate for at least 15 to 20 minutes or longer, until the balls are firm.
- Reserve 1 ½ ounces of the white chocolate for tempering. Make another double boiler by setting a heat-proof bowl over a pot of simmering water. Melt the remaining 13 ½ ounces of white chocolate until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the chocolate reads 105°F. Remove the bowl from the double-boiler, and off the heat stir in the remaining 1 ½ ounces white chocolate until melted.
- Line another sheet pan or a couple cafeteria trays with parchment paper.
- This part can get a little messy, so be patient. You’ll need a couple of forks and a spoon. Spoon a little white chocolate over one of the forks and hold it suspended over the bowl of chocolate. Place one of the chilled chocolate/chestnut balls onto the white chocolate-covered fork and swirl it around to lightly coat the bottom with white chocolate (it doesn’t have to be perfect, but it’s better than a totally naked bottom). Then use the spoon to pour white chocolate over the top of the ball as it sits on the fork, making sure to coat the entire surface and sides. Wipe off the excess white chocolate that may be dripping from the bottom of the fork or the edges, so it drips back into the bowl, then use the second fork to very carefully push the white chocolate-coated confection onto the parchment paper-lined pan. Repeat with the remaining chocolates until they are all coated, and let them cool and harden for several minutes at room temperature while you prepare the final decoration.
- Melt 1 ounce of dark chocolate and carefully transfer to a small piping bag or sandwich bag. Snip a small opening at one corner and pipe a small dot onto the center of each mound. Cool completely until the chocolate decorations are completely hardened. If it’s a warmer day, you may need to pop them into the fridge.
- Capezzoli di Venere can be stored in an air-tight container in the refrigerator, but should be served at room temperature so the filling softens up a bit before enjoying.
*All nutritional information is based on third-party calculations and should be considered estimates. Actual nutritional content will vary with brands used, measuring methods, portion sizes and more.*