These infamous Nipples of Venus (Capezzoli di Venere) confections are featured in the 1984 film Amadeus. Described as "Roman chestnuts in brandied sugar," they're actually chestnut and brandy-infused chocolate truffles covered in white chocolate. Absolutely 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 gluttonous Italian who is jealous of Mozart's talent, offers Constanze a refreshment called Capezzoli di Venere, or "Nipples of Venus." Constanze giggles because their name is incredibly naughty, as is their appearance. Watch the interaction in the video clip from Amadeus below!
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.
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 now-famous 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.
- Chestnuts: There's no need to roast your own chestnuts as you can readily purchase whole peeled roasted chestnuts either canned, jarred, packaged for snacking and even frozen (though I haven't tested this recipe with the frozen variety yet).
- Brandy: The recipe calls for brandy, but if you need to make these alcohol-free you can omit this ingredient and it should still work fine. The flavor profile will be a bit different of course.
- Chocolate: You will need both white and dark chocolate for this recipe. For the dark chocolate I prefer something bittersweet usually ranging between 65-75% cacao. I'm not typically a white chocolate fan, but I think it plays an important role to soften the dark chocolate flavor within.
How to make them
Making the filling is the easiest part. First blitz the chestnuts in a food processor until they are finely chopped. Then in a stand mixer, 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 or cookie scoop to yield uniform truffles. Arrange truffles on a parchment paper lined tray and chill for at least 15 to 20 minutes.
Next you need to coat the truffles with tempered white chocolate. To temper the white chocolate, heat most of it in a double boiler to a temperature of 105°F. Then remove from the heat in and stir in the remaining chopped white chocolate until melted.
You can try a different technique for coating the truffles if you prefer, but I think mine works well without creating a lot of wasted white chocolate. Put each truffle on a fork and spoon white chocolate over the top. Once the excess drips off, carefully push it off the fork and onto a piece of parchment to dry.
Finally, top each of the Capezzoli di Venere with a small dot of melted dark chocolate. Cool completely until all the chocolate decorations are hardened before serving.
Store Nipples of Venus in an air-tight container in the refrigerator, however, serve them at room temperature so the filling softens up a bit before enjoying.
Please scroll to the bottom of the post for the full recipe (in a printable recipe card) including ingredient amounts and detailed instructions.
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!
Other recipes you may like
- Chocolate-Dipped Peppermint Biscotti
- Donauwelle Kuchen (Danube Wave Cake)
- Viennoise au Chocolat (Vienna Bread with Chocolate)
- Zebra Cake with Chocolate Glaze
- Boston Cream Pie Cupcakes
- Chocolat Chaud (French Hot Chocolate)
Tried this recipe? Please leave a star ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ rating in the recipe card below and/or a review in the comments section further down the page. You can also follow me on social media on Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest!
Capezzoli di Venere (Nipples of Venus)
- 8 ounces bittersweet 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 bittersweet 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 bittersweet 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. If the white chocolate starts to harden, return it to the double boiler to melt. 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 bittersweet 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.
- Although you could place the truffles on a rack and pour tempered white chocolate over the top, this would be terribly wasteful and the bottoms of each truffle would not get coated. This method can be a bit messy. but it works.
- The recipe calls for brandy, but if you need to make these alcohol-free you can omit this ingredient and it should still work fine. The flavor profile will be a bit different of course.
*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.*
Alberto Jorge Silva
I really liked your way of contextualizing the recipe, analyzing what is fact and what could be imagination.
I have been looking for this recipe for years and it was gratifying to have found it here with you.
Very grateful for your sharing.
A strong and fraternal hug.
Amadeus is my favorite film and I’ve always associated this dessert with the movie. They are hard to find already made, so thanks for sharing this recipe!
They also appear in "Dangerous Liaisons"! There's a still photo from the film that shows Glenn Close sitting next to a table full of the most gorgeous china coffee set you've ever seen, and there next to the china is a plate full of delectable nipples! It's on IMDB's site here: https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0094947/mediaviewer/rm3678391296/
Ooooh! Thanks for sharing that. I had no idea as I hadn't seen that film 🙂
I watched Amadeus all the time when I was a kid... why is this scene the only one I remembered?
I think everyone who has seen the movie is fascinated by these sweets! As a candy-loving child it makes sense it’s the most memorable scene for sure 🙂
Totally! The most memorable part is when she snags a second one with a look of innocence.
Could brandy be omitted? Or is there a non alcoholic substitute? Thank you
That's a great question! I've never tested the recipe without the brandy, however I imagine you may be able to use a bit of heavy cream or milk in its place. Heavy cream is a traditional ingredient in chocolate truffles, so I would think it would work pretty well in the recipe, and likely even give the filling a bit more richness. I have not tested the recipe with cream vs brandy so I can't say for sure how it will turn out. If you try it, let me know how it goes 🙂
I've done it without adding the brandy, because at the time my children were little and wouldn't be allowed to eat. It works just fine without the brandy, no need to add anything else.
Wow! I am a total fan of Amadeus and came across this recipe in the hopes of recreating these. I accidentally ruined the tempered white chocolate, so I used the rest of the dark, but they were still amazing! Great recipe!
This dessert looks so cute! I love this idea!
I've never tried these but what a wonderful idea for chestnuts...these look and sound delicious! I love the background story too.
What a special recipe! This seems like a special cultural delight that needs to keep being passed on through generations.
What a cool new treat to make! This would be fun to make while watching the movie.
I love Amedeus too, but I totally forgot about these treats! Now I definitely need to make these. They look and sound delicious. 🙂
Thanks, Anita! They were so much fun to make, and seriously so decadent. I need to make another batch soon. They go fast!
These are super addictive!!
I've searched these around internet too, and found a page where it explained that although the Capezzoli are covered with white chocolate, to film the scene they were made out of marzipan, which the actor who played Constanza hated, but had to repeatedly eat until the scene was good to go...
Yes! I guessed that they were made of marzipan in the film from observing the appearance as she bit into it 🙂