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321recipesThese cocoa-coated chocolate truffles are a perfect cure for the midwinter blues.
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By Juli Kellner
Here we sit in that long slog from Christmas to Easter. Winter by the Big Lake has its charms, but it also has frosty cold, wind-swept snow and plenty of shoveling to boot.
Is it any wonder that Valentine’s Day stands out like a merry red beacon of chocolate bliss?
But really, I don’t need a holiday to splurge on a delicious truffle, a sweet with a long, tasty history.
It’s said that the chocolate truffle was first made by M. Dufour in Chambéry, France, in 1895. Today chocolate truffles can be divided into three main types: American, European and Swiss.
Joseph Schmidt, a “chocolatier” from San Francisco, is credited with creating the “American truffle” in the 1980s. This version combines dark or milk chocolate and butterfat encased in a rounded, conical-shaped chocolate shell (a gum drop shape).
The center of a “European truffle” has syrup combined with cocoa powder, milk powder and butter fat covered in artistically shaped chocolate shells, while a “Swiss truffle” blends melted chocolate and a boiling mixture of dairy cream and butter poured into molds, then sprinkled with cocoa powder.
Why call this confection a “truffle?” Apparently the first chocolate truffle looked much like its rare and expensive fungal namesake.
Chocolate has long had a “love” connection; some claim it eases the pain of a break-up. Love of chocolate brought together one Duluth couple.
“When my wife and I first met, we realized that we both loved good chocolate,” says Tom Ferrian, wedded to Colleen. “The idea of opening a chocolate shop developed even before we decided to get married.”
Their company, Peace, Love and Chocolate, creates fine handmade chocolates sold at the Whole Foods Co-Op, The Flower Cart, Catherine Imports, Gaia Art Gallery and ECO in Duluth or Red Mug Coffeehouse in Superior. Seasonally they are at the Duluth Farm Market.
“Chocolate is like a fine wine,” says Tom. “We have sampled chocolate from all over the world and have come to love chocolate from South America. You can actually taste the influences of the region where the beans are grown, tropical floral notes.”
When it comes to creating truffles, Tom says, “I love to cook, and use herbs like rosemary that I infuse into the cream to create sensational flavor.”
Those flavors feature Columbian dark chocolate, Kona coffee, jasmine honey and chai tea. “I’m also making a raspberry balsamic truffle right now,” says Tom, “and I picked the raspberries myself.”
Chocolate may aid more than love pangs. Studies link dark chocolate to antioxidant protection against some aging effects. Other studies indicated that dark chocolate can lower blood pressure and reduce bad cholesterol by up to 10 percent. Dark chocolate also contains serotonin, which fights depression (and those lost loves).
“When you bite into really good chocolate, it should be a celebration, and everyday luxury,” says Heidi Ash, owner of 185Chocolat in Duluth.
Heidi named her company because of her health. In 2000, she was the 185th heart transplant recipient at the Mayo Clinic. She uses her business to help transplant patients - a portion of each sale goes to the transplant endowment fund to supports non-medical expenses.
The chocolate business was a natural for her. “I’ve always loved chocolate. So I started tasting different kinds … I preferred the ‘Wow!’ of pure chocolate. I started making my own without preservatives or corn syrup. Eventually I taught myself to be a chocolatier.”
Her varieties include French roast, chocolate cheesecake, blood orange and raspberry silk and can be found at Kippis Tapas Bar locally.
But let’s talk about making your chocolate treat. The truffle recipe here, submitted by Lyn Monson of Grand Marais, Minnesota, for our WDSE Cooks Gifts from the Kitchen Cookbook, always works. Chocolate is a matter of preference, so use your favorite brand. I enjoy Ghirardelli.
As to the vanilla or other flavoring, use more or less expensive versions to taste. Some people even make their own vanilla.
Experiment to find your favorite indulgence and melt a long winter’s day.
1/2 c. heavy cream
2 Tbsp. unsalted butter
1 Tbsp. light corn syrup
8 oz. semisweet or bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
1 tsp. vanilla
1/2 c. powdered sugar
1/4 c. unsweetened cocoa powder
In a medium saucepan, over low heat, bring cream, butter and corn syrup to a simmer. Place chocolate in a medium bowl. Pour cream mixture over chocolate and let set for 5 minutes; do not stir. After 5 minutes, whisk the cream mixture and chocolate together until smooth. Add vanilla (or you can add any flavor or liquor. I like 1 to 2 tablespoons of amaretto or rum). Cover and refrigerate until mixture is fudge-like (one to two hours). You can leave it in the fridge for up to three days. Just take out of fridge and let the mixture soften for at least one hour before rolling.
Shape about 1 tablespoon of the mixture into a ball by rolling in the palm of your hand. Place balls on waxed paper. Sift powdered sugar and cocoa into a shallow bowl. Roll balls in sugar-cocoa mixture. Place in candy paper cups.