As I exited the library the display of cookbooks, each with “chocolate” in its title, stopped me cold. I’d been struggling to think of Christmas gifts I could make. The books provided me an instant answer. This year I would make truffles.
I checked out two over-sized books with beautifully photographed chocolate desserts on their covers. I started my explorations with the book that had “couture” in its title? Among the truffle choices? Matcha and pistachio, malt whiskey and dacquoise, sake and kinako, cassis and hibiscus, mostly names I couldn’t pronounce. The recipes called for ingredients I’d never heard of — invert sugar and Neige Decor — and baking tools and supplies — silicone baking paper, a pastry bag, palette knife, and a dipping fork — I didn’t own. Did I mention that half my kitchen tools are forty-two-year-old wedding gifts?
I preferred to start with familiar ingredients and names I could pronounce, so I turned to the second book. This featured “raw cacao superfood” truffles in a recipe that called for three tablespoons of lucuma. Others required ingredients I recognized– ancho chili powder, curry powder, garam masala and cardamom pods — but I didn’t want these flavors to interfere with the unrivaled taste of pure, dark chocolate.
In desperation I set the books aside and checked on-line, where I found a recipe with five easy-to-pronounce ingredients I could pick up at the grocery store. The recipe required two bowls, a wooden spoon, measuring spoons and cups, and a saucepan. Prep and finishing time: 15 minutes. Cooking time: 5 minutes: Cooling time: three hours. Results: delicious dark-chocolate truffles smothered in cocoa powder.
I tested my creations out as possible Christmas gifts by taking a few to friends to sample. If they liked the samples, I would wrap and deliver larger quantities later. As I expected, my simple dark chocolate samples were a big hit. My friends so enjoyed them that they immediately asked for the recipe. They plan to make them for the holidays.
I’m thumbing through the chocolate cookbooks again, searching for the perfect homemade Christmas gift. Mendiants, chocolate olive oil glazes, Nesselrode pie anyone?