For me, The perfect way to end dinner is with freshly brewed French-roast Jamaican coffee and a mound of chocloate truffles. However, at as much as $15 for a half-pound box, or about 50 cents per truffle, these sensuous morsels are simply too expensive to serve as often as one would like.

What is needed is another confection -- a two-bite candy of some sort that is rich and delicious, inexpensive to make, and that satisfies the after-dinner craving for chocolate truffles.

And here they are, homemade fruit truffles, three dozen of which can be made with the use of the food processor in about 10 minutes. With Valentine's Day coming up Thursday, they also offer a chance to show the personal touch.

I accidentally discovered the idea for these tiny candies of dried fruit and nuts while perusing the new edition of "The Alice B. Toklas Cookbook" (Harper & Row, 1984. $14.95).

Alice B. (for Babette) Toklas, the lifelong companion of Gertrude Stein, presided with Stein over the most famous Paris salon of this century, a salon frequented by Hemingway, Fitzgerald, Wilder, Picasso, Matisse and Braque, to name just a few of the famous who came to talk and eat with Stein and Toklas. Stein wrote and talked, Toklas talked and cooked.

When asked by a publisher to write a book, Toklas explained that writing a book was impossible, for Gertrude Stein had already written "The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas," and nothing more needed to be said. Then Toklas added, "I could do a cookbook."

The cookbook, originally published in 1954, is filled with the presonalities of the friends and guests of the Paris salon. It is written in the speaking style of Toklasl one of history's great talkers, and it has become notorious for its "Haschich Fudge" recipe, often mistakenly called Alice B. Toklas' Marijuana Brownies.

The fudge, without the marijuana, is a delicious little confection made of dates and figs, almonds and peanuts, all ground together and then moistened with butter and flavored with spices. Using this idea as a point of departure (and eliminating the marijuana, of course) I created two recipes for fruit truffles -- small candies of chopped dried fruits and nuts.

The first are date truffles, a mixture of dates, pecans and golden raisins that are moistened with melted butter, sweetened and bound with confectioners' sugar, and spiced with a combination of cinnamon, nutmeg, coriander and black pepper. This is the same combination of spices that Toklas used, and it is a sensitive blend of four powerful flavors that yields one new flavor of its own, a flavor that is assertive but not overwhelming. The second recipe combines apricots with shredded coconut and walnuts to form a truffle that is then flavored with preserved ginger. The intense sweet flavor of the apricots is softened by the coconut and balanced with the warm spices of the preserved ginger.

The quality of the dried fruits in these recipes is important. Use moist, good-quality dates and apricots, not the pellet-hard chopped variety sometimes found in supermarkets. Also, as the directions in the recipes specify, use only the pulsing motions of the food processor to chop and combine the fruits and nuts, or you inadvertently may produce a texturally uninteresting mush.

Two fruit truffles for each guest, with a cup of freshly brewed coffee, is the perfect end to a dinner party for all but Alice B. Toklas, who said, "If perfection is good, more perfection is better." Serve the Alices on your guest list three or four fruit truffles and a large pot of coffee. DATE TRUFFLES (Makes 36) 1/2 cup pitted dates (about 4 ounces unpitted by weight) 1/2 cup pecan pieces (about 1 1/2 ounces by weight) 1/4 cup golden raisins 1 1/2 tablespoons melted butter 2 tablespoons confectioners' sugar 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg 3/4 teaspoon ground coriander 1/4 teaspoon black pepper (optional)

Combine the dates and pecans in a food processor and chop very coarsely by repeated pulsing. Add the raisins and pulse until ingredients are chopped but not too finely. Add the remaining ingredients and pulse until mixture is well combined and finely chopped.

Remove the blade and shape the mixture into hazelnut-size balls.

Place in an airtight container and refrigerate until needed. Serve at room temperature. APRICOT TRUFFLES (Makes 36) 1/2 cup dried apricots (about 4 ounces by weight) 1/4 cup sweetened shredded coconut 1/2 cup walnut pieces (about 1 1/2 ounces by weight) 3 nuggets (about 1/2-inch wide and 3/4-inch long) preserved ginger 2 tablespoons syrup from the preserved ginger 1 tablespoon confectioners' sugar

Combine all the ingredients in a food processor and pulse until well combined and finely chopped. Be careful not to overchop, as the truffles are best when they have varied texture.

Remove the blade and shape the mixture into hazelnut-size balls.

Place in an airtight container and refrigerate until needed. Serve at room temperature.