Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Trouble with Truffles

Last weekend I spent an enormous amount of time fiddling with dark chocolate truffles.  I wanted something special to give to my fellow staff members for Christmas.  Cooks Illustrated (a favorite cooking periodical) arrived with a recipe for truffles that didn't seem too dificult - perfect timing.   I made 4 flavors – hazelnut, orange, peppermint, and bacon.  There were major problems with each and every flavor.  The truffle recipe was very good except that they said one recipe would make 64 truffles.  I doubled the recipe and ended up with about 50 candies.  OK – I admit that my first bon bons (hazelnut) were a bit large and I could have doubled the output of those if they were half the size but even then I wouldn’t have made the 64 quota.   

This was not a a quick project by any means.  Melting the chocolate was a breeze in the microwave but then I had to let the mixture sit at room temperature for 2 hours.  And then each recipe spent another 2 hours in the refrigerator before the candies could be formed.  The timing of the two recipies' resting times was a challenge.  Finnally it was time to roll those balls!

You would think that chocolate balls that don’t want to leave your hands (because they are too sticky) would have no problem picking up the additional flavoring element such as crushed nuts, peppermint candies, bacon bits…  But no, each truffle heartedly rejected each exterior flavorent.  And then some of the bon-bons had the audacity of letting the topping drool and/or melt into a sticky mess.  Fortunately I had extra candy-sized  papers.  But then there was the trouble of scraping the additional flavor element from the original paper cup onto the chocolate truffle – sometimes it was just a mess and sometimes the “run off” could be salvaged.

 OK so now I have two batches of chocolate truffles (which by the way taste terrific) Since I am not really fond of dark chocolate I was not tempted to eat the product.  This was a good thing not only for my waist-line but also for the fact that I was ending up with too few candies.  I did not even try the bacon truffle which was my own invention.  The peppermint and orange truffles were also my invention but they were no brainer flavors. 

The next step was to package the truffles as gifts.  I made 3 trips to the dollar store for gift boxes while I was planning this project.  Each visit resulted in a different style of box.  But eventually I got enough boxes for the truffles but there were not enough bon-bons for each staff member.  Choices had to be made.  I copied the staff telephone list ( guaranteed to include everyone) and highlighted the staff members with whom I work most closely.  I had pre-made “to/from” gift stickers (cut and stamped by you know who) ready to attach to each truffle gift.   These were filled out prior to assembling and filling the boxes.  I made special note of which boxes had the bacon truffles to be sure not to gift one to any vegetarian collegues.

 Attaching tags to gift boxes and then putting the gift boxes into the mail boxes turned out to be an enormously time consuming task.  A work partner fortunately agreed to help put the bon-bon boxes into  staff mail boxes.  Not only did she help save me time but since she is just a bit taller than me she could reach the top-most mail boxes.  What are good friends for – sometimes they can reach higher than you!

 Wouldn’t you know it – one brief step into the  office area and a staff member  thanks me for the truffle right in front of another staff member to whom I did not gift… Note to self for next year – gift everyone!!!  The rave thanks made it all worth it.

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