Back in my teaching days, I went to Oaxaca, Mexico to research Mexican chocolate for an interactive unit for high school students. Just ask me about Mexican chocolate and its lore and I could talk for hours. Better yet, stop by for a cup of it. Yes, a hot drinking cup of it that I have shipped from La Soledad Chocolate y Mole in Oaxaca. I obviously love the stuff.
Not only is it used for drinking but also for the famous Mole (pronounced mow-lay). I was even on TV stirring a batch of it. That was not by design, but I was taking a cooking class with Susana Trilling at her ranch outside of Oaxaca and who showed up but a film crew from National Geographic. I didn’t get to see the program as those were the days that we survived without cable TV. Just to show you that I didn’t make this up, here I am some 15 years ago with Susana Trilling. The other photo is her assistant and one of the National Geographic photographers at work.
Susana Trilling’s Rancho Aurora
Now for a little history of chocolate and a book review. Oh, yes I do love to read and I finally worked out a way to include that interest. It’s been a little chilly to “chill” in my hammock with a good read, but now that spring has finally shown up, it will likely get some use. In the meantime, the front porch rockers that catch the afternoon sun have been the destination of choice to soak up some vitamin D along with a dose of history embedded in some well turned prose by Mort Rosenblum: Chocolate A Bittersweet Saga of Dark and Light.
Mort takes you on a historical tasting trip around the world with chocolate in all of its forms and guises and introduces us to some of the foremost chocolatiers alive today. From Hernán Cortés bringing it to Spain from the new world and the Spanish princess Anne of Austria, who was to marry the French king, Louis XIII but refused to go without her chocolate, to the chocolate coast of Africa, from a beverage that was believed to have aphrodisiac propensity to dark chocolate sardines fabricated from the stuff. Mort doesn’t make it all read academic. He fondly recalls the magical if lowbrow movie Chocolat and also reminded me that it was Richard Cadbury in 1861 who first put chocolates in a heart shaped box for Valentine’s Day.
Just in time for Valentine’s Day–a recipe for chocolate truffles that anyone can make. Really. They take about 2 hours total time, add 30 minutes to run to the store for the 4 ingredients.
Dark Chocolate Truffles (Tyler Florence)
1/2 Cup heavy cream
8 oz. dark chocolate (I used 60% bittersweet chips)
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 Cup baking cocoa, for dusting
Bring the cream to a simmer over low heat in a small saucepan. Pour the cream over the chocolate in a bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Let stand for 10 minutes to melt the chocolate.
Add the vanilla and stir until smooth. Set aside to cool to room temperature, 30 minutes to 1 hour.
Then beat the chocolate at medium speed, using an electric mixer, until it is thick and light colored. Chill the chocolate for 30 minutes to 1 hour in the refrigerator. Gently roll into 1 inch balls–you can use your hands or a melon or small ice cream scoop–then drop in the baking cocoa. Use 2 forks to coat completely and gently lift out to a plate or to small paper baking cups.
If making a day or two ahead of time, let them stand at room temperature for at least an hour before serving.