Saturday, March 27, 2010

Chocolate Truffles

I LOVE to travel and I love France... very beautiful and so charming.
But, I'm not going to lie- I don't really know much French.
The extent of my French language education ended almost 25 years ago. Needless to say, Natalie does not remember too much of that information from way back when. Then again, the education couldn't have been all that extensive. I know there are people who read this who could probably back me up on these memories.

It occurred over several years in my Montessori classroom... (you'll have to imagine the chime-y flashback music here)
Madame Niven (who was actually British and, if you really want to know I have no idea if she was in some way related to David) would waltz in wheeling her "trolley" (which, because she was British, could certainly not be called a "cart"). The trolley housed her supplies.
The children in the classroom would have to head over to the side of the room where an "ellipse" was taped to the floor. Boys would traipse over in their navy blue pants and shoes with white shirts, the girls in gray and white finely striped dresses with sailor collars (complete with little red stars on the corners in the back) and burgundy colored shoes. We could not, mind you, sit in a circle. Oh no, no mere ovals for us either. We sat in an ellipse.

Madame would take out her props and we would learn our vocabulary: colors, shapes, numbers, and the odd necessities for all children such as s'il vous plait, merci, bonjour, au revoir, la poupee (doll) and bonbon (bonbon). The bonbons she showed were not real- they were just colored tissue stuffed into waxed paper with the ends twisted to look like sweets. She had told us that some of the "older" girls has made them for her. For all I know, "older" could have meant third graders.

By the way- my apologies to the French speakers as I do not know how to obtain accents for my letters at this time.

Sadly, one does not go somewhere in France and have an extensive conversation based on colors, numbers, and dolls. Maybe this conversation would be possible in a doll making factory... but the conversation would be pretty short.

My vocabulary has been increased over the years by random French words (not quite sure where many came from) as well as French food words, and although I am able to recognize them, I am not always up on the pronunciation.
I can understand more than I can speak! Maybe I get points for that.
Still, I will not say I am a French speaker by any means.
I took Spanish in high school and college because I thought it would be more useful to me.
I now wish I knew more useful French. I cannot blame this one on Madame Niven- I dropped the ball (but how much blame can a 5-year-old take without knowing how life would turn out? Then again, I was not 5 in high school...). Learning French is on my list of things to do, and I have been meaning (or at least very seriously thinking) to get myself some French lessons- or Rosetta Stone.

It's so sad how for the most part Americans don't know any languages! Many figure they don't have to since everyone else in the whole world is supposed to learn English. Right-o. Keep thinking like that and you will go far my friend.
It seems that in France, for the most part, if you at least try to speak some French, the French people will usually help you. You may feel a little silly, but that's ok. Many of them know English anyway. Just keep your dictionary handy. "Rude American" is definitely not the way to go.

So, anyway, I'm going to go ahead and go back to basics here.
French Chocolate Truffles are pretty easy fare- they seem so impressive though, and they can be sooo good.
You just melt chocolate with hot cream to make a ganache, let cool, roll into balls and toss in cocoa powder. Because they contain so few ingredients, it's good to obtain the best chocolate you can (and by "obtain" I mean buy or trade, not steal).

Chocolate truffles are called "truffles" because they are similar in appearance to the (still wonderful, but not chocolate) fungus truffles that grow near the roots of oak trees, hunted by pigs, and covered in dirt.

P.S. Yes, I know some of you may be concerned that it is still Lent, but I'm giving you this information so you will be prepared for after Lent.

Chocolate Truffles
makes 25-35

8 oz chocolate (Ghiradelli chocolate is pretty good stuff and found in most groceries- and I prefer something darker, such as 60%)
1 T butter
1/2 c heavy cream

Chop chocolate finely and place in a small bowl. Heat cream with butter to simmer in a small saucepan. Pour cream over chocolate and let sit 5 minutes. Stir chocolate and cream until smooth (you have ganache!). Pour into 8x8 inch pan and refrigerate about an hour.

Use a melon baller, small ice cream scoop/cookie scoop, or two spoons to scoop and shape into rough ball shapes.

Toss truffles in cocoa powder to coat.
Eat, but do not inhale cocoa powder (or refrigerate in an airtight container if not serving).

2 T liqueur (Amaretto, Frangelico, Cointreau, Chambord, Brandy...) stirred into chocolate after it has been incorporated into hot cream and prior to refrigerating.

Chopped nuts, shredded coconut, melted chocolate (for a "shell"), powdered sugar, and sprinkles can be used to coat the truffles instead of cocoa powder.
If using something like nuts- it would be easier if you would first melt some extra chocolate, coat the truffle, and then roll it in nuts.

If you plan to coat in chocolate, after rolling ganache into balls, place on sheet pan and refrigerate 20-30 minutes. This will make it easier when dealing with the melted chocolate.

1 comment:

  1. Natalie, I made the caramels for a friend's seder the other day, and because I had no vanilla, I used food grade lavender essential oil to flavor the caramels! I seasoned by smell, so I can't remember how much I put in there. They were so light & floral! I would love to try the same with the truffles.