Maybe many of you don’t know this, but my mother is a chocolatier. She may not refer to herself as such, but I do. (She’s also a professional cake decorator, but that is another story.)
She has her own cookbook out called “The Truffle with Chocolate.” The back of mine says it is a second addition, printed in 2003. Sprinkled throughout the book are well-known quotes and sayings with the word truffle worked in.
“I love not the man less but the Truffle more.”
Truffles are a chocolate candy, but not like a bonbon. A chocolate truffle has a chocolate ganache inside, which is a creamy filling enhanced with flavors or liqueur. The ganache is hardened (by cooling it) then dipped in either light or dark chocolate coating. They are truly heaven. People rave about them. People crave them. People beg for them.
My entire family takes them for granted. Where Nana goes, truffles follow, they believe.
"All roads lead to Truffles."
Every kid in our family had wielded a dipper at a young age, knows what a 10 pound brick of chocolate looks like, and just as-sumes that every household has these delectable candies sitting around. Those that rave, crave and beg would freak at the amount of chocolate that flows through Mom’s house like a big Willy Wonka river. The really odd thing is that my kids don’t eat much chocolate. I consider it a food group.
But they all know how to dip.
I started my kids early, handing them a little fork, a bag of fun pretzels and a bowl of melted chocolate when they were still toddlers. It used to be a favorite pre-Christmas activity. They chatted, giggled and tap, tap, tapped, ending up with chocolate every-where. But some of the most fun things in life are messy.
“Nothing Truffled, nothing gained.”
I have some great video of my son Nick dipping ring-shaped pretzels at age 3. His hair is standing straight up, his glasses are smeared with sticky fingerprints, and he is having a blast. Maggie, 8 years old at the time, is bossing him around (as usual), admon-ishing him to be neater, reminding him not to lick his fingers (we had to keep his separate – what 3-year-old was not going to lick his chocolate-covered fingers?) and competing to see if she can work faster than he is.
If you have little kids, try it. Go buy a brick of chocolate coating – most grocery stores carry it this time of year – and a bag of fun pretzels. Twist pretzels work, but it’s Christmas. Have fun with it. Just keep a damp washcloth handy. Line some cookie sheets with foil, melt the coating slowly in the microwave, hand them each a fork and let ‘em buck.
(Note: Don’t use chocolate chips! Most are real chocolate and will not set up without being tempered, which is more trouble than it is worth for the uninitiated.)
Don’t attempt truffles with kids unless they have dipping experience and are a bit older. The outlay of ingredients can be expensive, especially if a liqueur is involved, and if the ganache balls are left in the coating too long, they will melt away.
“Truffles are where the heart is.”
My mother gets together with various groups to teach them to make truffles, and with friends and relatives for truffle-making extravaganzas. Truffle Day! Mom and I and my cousin Lisa just got together two weeks ago to make a mountain of them to give as gifts. We spent one day making Grandma Parenteau’s recipe of meat pie and one day making truffles.
My dad got in on the act years ago, and is quite adept at balling and dipping truffles when Mom needs help. He also designed and made a bunch of dippers for Mom when she couldn’t find what she wanted on the market.
“Truffles make the world go ‘round.”
I make them at home every now and then, but prefer working on them with my mom, just because it is more fun that way. Maggie has been in on Truffle Day quite a few times, which is always enjoyable. Maybe someday I will teach the wives of my boys to make them, or better yet, have Nana teach them. What a lovely tradition. I want to see my grandchildren and great-grandchildren consulting a beat-up “The Truffle with Chocolate” cookbook and laughing at Nana Parenteau stories.
“Where there are Truffles, there is love.”