Tuesday Jan 01, 2008

The Holiday Season (of Chocolate)

The end of the year (according to the Gregorial calendar) is a time of chocolate for me. Not that I don't enjoy (and make) chocolates at other times of the year. But during this time of many (different) religious celebrations, and the winding down of the work year, and the many parties and other events, I find myself particularly drawn to chocolate...

One of the nice things about chocolate is that it doesn't belong solely to any religion's tradition (though perhaps the Aztecs have a claim...). In my country, there are many who feel that we are taking the Christ out of Christmas. This is particularly evident while shopping - the stores (and cards) welcome shoppers and wish them "Happy Holidays". But while shopping at Trader Joe's earlier this season, I discovered that Christmas isn't the only holiday getting the secularization treatment. Bags of foil-wrapped chocolate Geld for Hanukkah were being sold as "chocolate coins of the world, a holiday tradition". (I didn't manage to find any of the traditional Ramadan foods in any of the stores, so I can't report on the secularization of Iftar, but I probably didn't look hard enough... Winter Solstice is of course very evident, thanks to all of the tree lots in the Bay Area)

But I've gotten off onto a tangent; back to chocolate! This chocolate season finds me in Litchfield Connecticut, enjoying the lovely snow covered trees, and exchanging presents with family and friends. One gift I received is Alice Medrich's book Bittersweet: Recipes and Tales from a Life in Chocolate. Having thoughtfully brought several bars of chocolate from Scharffen Berger, I was able to make what has become something of a signature dish for me - chocolate truffles. This time I followed the recipe for "Cold Creamy Truffles" (pages 142-4) rather than my usual "Classic Ganache Truffles" (pages 151-153). The ganache is creamier, and they are presented powdered (of course with Scharffen Berger Natural Cocoa Powder). If they aren't all consumed at this afternoon's New Year's Day party, I may have a few left to share with friends I'll be visiting later this week in Boston... (you know who you are!).

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Peter Korn

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