Wednesday, 17 March 2010

When all else fails? Just add chocolate

Well, we're without song lyrics today, as all I could think of when starting this post was a postcard a good friend of mine Andrew used to have up on his desk when we worked together. It simply said "Things are getting desperate. Please send chocolate." It felt appropriate for how life is at the moment. My diet, as previously stated is balanced nicely between Tunnock's teacakes and toasted hot cross buns, but I felt it was lacking in the most important food group when depressed; chocolate.

Under the guise of prepping for Guides next week, I did a trial run tonight of some chocolate truffles - the theory being that we could shape them like Easter Eggs, and with the addition of some relatively cheap Easter cellophane bags and pretty ribbon we have home made, quick and easy Easter presents. Unfortunately I can't take any credit for the recipe - which is all down to Jules of Butcher, Baker and random stuff maker. Her post at Christmas on Snowball truffles was my inspiration, and after some guidance from her on flavours I made, dark chocolate rum truffles - half rolled in cocoa and half rolled in icing sugar, and white chocolate strawberry truffles rolled in icing sugar. We have an extra special treat in store for the Guides - edible glitter! It'll be my first time using this and I'm so excited! Sadly the resources are all packed away at the hut and I'm at home so had to make do with cocoa and icing sugar, but I will add photos of the glittery goodness.

The truffles were incredibly easy to make (hence the Guides will be having a bash in Patrols)

Snowball Truffles
Makes 30 (approx)

200g dark chocolate, broken into pieces (plus extra if you want to dip your truffles in chocolate like Jules has in her pictures. I haven't dipped mine)
4 tbsp condensed milk
flavourings e.g. 2 tsp orange extract or 2 tbsp rum
Cocoa/icing sugar/desiccated coconut for rolling truffles in

1) In a microwave proof bowl mix together chocolate, condensed milk and flavouring.

2) Heat the ingredients. At 10 second intervals stir the chocolate. When the chocolate has melted remove the bowl from the microwave.

3) Continue to stir until the ingredients turn into a fudge-like consistency. It does begin to look like the chocolate has seized but don’t worry, it is meant to do this. Allow it to cool for a few minute.

4) Take tsp of the mixture and roll into balls. Roll in coating then place on baking parchment to set and harden. If wish to dip the truffles in chocolate allow the truffles to first cool then dip in melted chocolate and leave to set on parchment.

Changes I will make next week
  • I think we can make do with half teaspoons of truffle for each sweet. Ever thrifty, this will double the amount we make, but also I think these are plenty sweet enough in half portions. I'm working on the basis we'll make about 90 with the girls, if we do half teaspoons that will possibly go up to 180 - eeek!
  • To make them look most like Easter eggs I found a kind of rounded quinelle was the easiest, but when coating them they went back round. I think I may need to shelve my dreams of pretty egg shaped truffles but we can try.
  • Obviously we won't be using rum with the girls, but strawberry and mint flavourings. We also have lemon but I'm just not sure about that - although sometimes the things I'm dubious come out the best!
Oh and can I just mention the goodness of condensed milk? I am not a fan of dairy products as a rule, but this is lush... I can imagine it would be a huge treat at camp, I just now have to work out a way to include it in the menu!

The aim of this was not just to produce chocolate for eating (I haven't actually eaten any yet, they're going into work as a thank you for my team for covering my work while I've been off weeping copiously and some to the other Guiders at Brownies who just look after me all the time) however, the actual act of making them has served as a fantastic distraction. After a day spent largely in tears, the act of making a simple recipe which required straightforward, repetitive action was soothing in the extreme.

People write a lot about food being comforting, but for me the actual act of cooking is comforting - I know what I'm working towards, I can focus on that and that alone and know I'll have something to show for it at the end. Something that no one else can pass off as theirs, something that is entirely individual, something that has a part of me in it. When I look at what I do on a day to day basis, what pays the bills and keeps a roof over my head, I wonder why it can't be something that leaves me calm and peaceful like cooking or Guiding.

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