You are probably a little confused. Why am I holding up chocolate covered hands? Well I'm going to tell you...obviously. It wouldn't be much of a blog if I didn't, would it?
This recipe is for chocolate truffles. Here's the thing about truffles....you have to use chocolate.
Here's the thing about chocolate....its SUPER temperamental. For these truffles, you have to temper chocolate. Basically that means that you are improving the consistency, durability or hardness of a substance by heating and cooling it. If that's not a metaphor for a relationship, I don't know what is! I mean think about it. In a relationship, you want to make it stronger. You want to change the durability of your love together. If your not careful and you put something out of balance, its hard to pull the whole thing together. You have to be really dedicated and motivated to making the whole thing be successful. If you don't keep the balance, something will go horrible wrong.
Chocolate is temperamental. It can only handle so much heat. So much pressure. It's hard yes but it's also so delicate. And too much pressure, too much beating can cause it to separate. To breakdown.
Relationships are lot like making truffles. What you put in is what you get out. If you don't take care of your chocolate, it will separate. It will get grainy. It will dry out. If you don't take care, it will harden. If you are not careful when you roll your truffles they will be misshapen. If you use too much pressure, they won't turn out.
What You Need
For the Ganache
Generous 2 cups heavy cream 21 ounces
bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
Generous 1/4 cup Grand Marnier or Stoli Razberi vodka (optional)
2 1/2 cups shredded sweetened coconut, toasted (see note, below)
About 2 cups toasted nuts, finely chopped (see note, below)
What You Do:
Heat the heavy cream in a 2-quart heavy-bottomed saucepan until bubbles begin to form around the edge of the pan. Make sure that you have chopped the chocolate as finely as possible to allow it to melt quickly and easily.
Place the chopped chocolate in a medium-size mixing bowl.
Make a ganache by pouring about half of the hot cream over the chocolate and letting it sit for 30 seconds to melt the chocolate. Then slowly whisk until smooth and homogenous.
Do not add all of the hot cream to the cold chocolate at once; the shock of the temperature extremes would cause the fat in the chocolate to separate.
As the chocolate melts, you will see some elasticity if there is no fat separation. This means the chocolate still has an emulsion; the fat molecules are still holding together.
If the ganache separates, it loses its elasticity, collapses, and becomes very liquid. Use a hand-held immersion blender to ensure a smooth ganache and to keep the emulsion of the chocolate.
Add the remaining cream gradually and mix until all of the hot cream is incorporated and the ganache is smooth and homogenous.
If the ganache separates, it is very easy to fix. Simply add a small amount of cold cream and whisk well.
This will bring the ganache back together. The ganache should be thick, shiny, and smooth.
Add the desired flavoring and mix until fully incorporated.
Pour the ganache onto a plastic wrap-covered baking sheet and spread evenly with a rubber spatula.
Cover the ganache with plastic wrap and allow it to cool for at least 4 hours at room temperature.
As it cools, it will thicken and set.
When the ganache has cooled to the consistency of toothpaste, scrape it into a pastry bag fitted with a 1/2-inch plain tip.
Do not stir the ganache when you do this. Incorporating air by stirring will cause the ganache to harden.
Pipe 1-inch-diameter mounds spaced 1 inch apart on a parchment paper-covered baking sheet.
To pipe the mounds, hold the pastry bag at a slight angle and allow the tip to touch the parchment as you begin to pipe.
Once you have formed the mound, stop squeezing and lift the tip straight up, leaving a small tail on the top of each mound.
You can also use a spoon and drop small mounds of ganache onto the baking sheet.
Let the truffles harden at room temperature for a couple of hours (or in the refrigerator for 15 minutes), until they are hard enough to roll with your hands.
To roll the mound into a ball, place a truffle between both palms, squeeze slightly, and roll between your hands.
The truffles will look nicer if they are as round as possible.
When all the truffles are rolled into balls, they are ready to be coated.
If they have become too soft, place them in the refrigerator for 1 to 2 hours until they are firm enough to dip.
You can use either a dipping fork or your hands to dip the truffles in chocolate.
To use the fork, drop the truffle into the bowl of tempered chocolate and then retrieve it with the dipping fork.
Hold the fork over the bowl for several seconds to allow the excess chocolate to drip back into the bowl. Gently scrape the bottom of the fork against the side of the bowl to remove any excess chocolate and roll the dipped truffle in the desired garnish.
Place on a parchment paper-covered baking sheet.
If you use your hands, dab some chocolate in the palm of one hand.
Roll the truffle in that palm to completely coat it with chocolate.
Place the enrobed truffle on the baking sheet. Repeat for the remaining truffles. This method is very quick but it can also be extremely messy.
When all of the truffles have been coated once, repeat the enrobing procedure.
This is necessary only when you enrobe the truffles by hand rather than with a fork.
The truffles are usually more evenly coated when dipped with a fork.
As soon as each truffle gets a second coating, immediately roll it in the desired garnish.
You need to do this before the chocolate sets or the topping will not adhere. At this stage, it is good to have a friend help because it is hard to dip and roll at the same time.
Place the truffles on a clean parchment paper-covered baking sheet and allow them to set, about 5 minutes. The truffles will keep for up to 2 weeks at room temperature, when stored in an airtight container.
To Make Coconut and Nut Topping:
Preheat the oven to 400°F (204°C). Spread the coconut on a baking sheet and place in the oven for about 3 minutes. Remove from the oven and stir to keep the sugar in the coconut from burning. Return to the oven and toast until golden brown, about 3 more minutes. Remove the baking sheet from the oven and cool on a wire rack. To toast nuts: Preheat oven to 300°F (148°C).
Spread the nuts evenly on a baking sheet and place in the oven.
Toast for about 30 minutes, until they are golden brown.
You will be able to smell the nuts when they are ready.
A good test is to break a nut in half and check to see if it is light brown on the inside.
Toasting nuts brings out their natural flavor. Remove them from the oven and allow to cool completely on the baking sheet on a wire rack.
If you decide to roll the truffles by hand, it is important to make sure your hands are cold. A good trick is to dip your hands in ice water for a few seconds and then dry them. Do this immediately before rolling the truffles. If your hands are too warm and the truffles begin to melt while you are rolling them, redip your hands in the ice water, dry them, and proceed.
This , my friends, is what we shall call a fable. A cautionary tale that acts as a mirror to modern dating life. This lil story is something that I should have posted a long time ago. It actually happened several months ago and the whole metaphoric thing has been floating around my head since then. It was back when I still lived in LA for my brief foray into the movie business. I had just moved out there and my dearest chicks had come to visit me.
Something you should understand about me is that I am a planner, especially when it comes to vacations and restaurants I will plan the restaurants peruse the online menu and have what I want to order before I've even left for the vacation! I am that neurotic about my culinary adventures. So when my dearest gal pals planned a trip...I started to plan the restaurant. I googled, I yelped, I urbanspooned the hell out of my laptop until I found what looked like the perfect place. It was a Cuban restaurant that had reasonably priced fare that was well reviewed and had dancing! How could I go wrong?!
The online version of this place had a dark mahogany bar, with a wooden dance floor and happy, pretty smiling people dancing the night away. The food looked tempting and mouth watering. I called and made a reservation for all of us, congratulating myself on such a wonderful find!
The night arrived and we all primped and lotioned and perfumed ourselves. Stilettos and clutches at the ready we made our way to the heart of LA to dance and dine the night away with the perfect restaurant Our expectations high. Our enthusiasm started to flag as we pulled into the parking lot....in a strip mall....next to the dilapidated Mexican restaurant and the apparently homeless convention.
We valet parked cautiously and made our way into the Cuban place....that had just opened for the evening.
And we were the only guests. There wasn't even any music playing.
The menus were old and falling apart. The carpet and tables were dusty.
And did I say WE WERE THE ONLY CUSTOMERS IN THERE!?
Talk about awkward!
The last straw for all of us was the fact that prices were double what had been printed online. Talk about misrepresentation!
We blamed our hasty retreat into the night on our friend who had "forgotten" her (imaginary) inhaler.
Once safely ensconced in my car we drove into the night. And drove. And drove. And drove. One would think that finding a place to eat in LA would be fairly easy. But for some reason, we had a devil of a time. No places looked appealing No place was showing up. We drove and drove and drove. And started to lose hope. Would we ever find the restaurant of our dreams? A place where culinary and atmosphere collided into the night that stories are written about?
Someone finally broke out yelp, even though it had led us astray, we decided to give it another shot.
It was there that our hope was renewed. A small Italian place (within our budget) was just around the corner. We drove, tentatively hopeful, to the place. We parked across a busy street from it. We walked in high heels and cute dresses across the street, braving the traffic. And walked into a fast food Italian place. We immediately realized that we were in the wrong Italian restaurant And that we were REALLY overdressed. Really really over dressed. Our feet aching, our stomachs complaining, we lowered our standards and ordered a plate of bruschetta and glass of wine to hold ourselves over. The bruschetta wasn't bad but it wasn't anything to write home about. It was run of the mill plain tomatoes and bread. We left the place and looked to our left as we exited.
Within walking distance was some sort of Moroccan style food place. It had belly dancing. It was food. It was late. We were tired of driving and searching. I want you to understand....we had been driving for 2 and half HOURS by this point. We were ready to settle. We didn't care. We wanted food. It was time to lower our standards. We walked the 100 feet more and walked into the place. It was old. It was dusty. We wondered if every place in LA was old and dusty. We didn't care. It would have to do. We were ready to give up. We asked for a menu.
It was a set menu for a set price.
We looked at each other, the four of us in some sort of LA restaurant hell.
My sister said she had a stomach ache and wouldn't eat anyway. She was done. She would stay here if we wanted.
My friend with the imaginary inhaler said she just wanted a drink. She was done. She would stay here if we wanted.
My food adventuresome friend said she liked the rice. She was done. She would stay here if we wanted.
My feet hurt. My back ached. I was tired of driving. I was done. I would stay here if the group wanted.
We looked at each other one last time. We each wondered if it really was time to settle. If we should give up what we knew we wanted because maybe, just maybe we couldn't have it.
By silent, mutual, unanimous, agreement .... we rejected settling and walked out...once again into the cool LA air. We would find the restaurant of our dreams damn it! We pulled ourselves and our standards back up where they belonged, walked back up the street, across the street and back into my car.
1.5 miles later... we found "the restaurant". The one that we had been searching for all night. It must have been waiting for us too because there was a parking sport right up front. We walked in, the owner greeted us...
"Good evening, do you have a reservation?"
We looked scared and replied that no, we did not. Would we be accepted? Or would we be cast out into the night?
"One moment." he said to us.
Then....he did the most lovely thing....he picked up clean, new menus and led the four of us to a table by the window. A prime table. A table that looked out onto the beautiful LA scene. A table framed by trees. A table that had been waiting for us.
The restaurant played classical music. The lighting was soft and decor made you feel as if you were eating on a terrace in Italy. We fell in love.
They gave us bread. Warm, fluffy, toasty bread and a crusty herb bread.
The owner sent us over a complimentary appetizer. Crispy, fresh, homemade calamari. We ordered drinks and food and finally dessert. The meal was perfect from start to finish. When the bill came we realized that the place was exactly what it claimed to be, delicious and well priced.
We looked at each that night and knew....we just knew.... that once you find the right restaurant, nothing else matters. We could have been content with any of the 3 places we had left that night. We could have been ok, not satisfied but ok. We could have given up.
But we never would have known true restaurant bliss if we had.
This is me and my dad. When I was lil. Well, I'm still lil so I guess when I was younger. When I didn't know anything except my mom and my dad. I look at this picture and I reflect back on who I was, how I became who I am today and everything that has happened since this picture was taken. Follow me for a moment here.....
Have you ever heard of something called 'Spider Love'? Its this really interesting notion that Martha Beck talks about in her book, Steering by Starlight. I found it because I have been desperately trying to find some peace, some understanding, something, anything in regards to dating. I've read Deepak Chopra, I've done meditation, I've listened to Tibetan singing bowls, I've tried Buddhist chants, I've read passages in the Bible, I've prayed, I've gone to the gym to run run run like a hamster and will my brain into stop obsessing about things in the past. It was these few paragraphs that really brought me some peace and some clarity.
If you went into your garden, recruited a spider, and asked it, "What do you love most?" the spider might answer, "I love flies." This is true: Spiders enjoy a tasty fly the way I enjoy ice cream. And how does this love cause a spider to behave? Well, it makes a sticky web, catches flies alive, wraps them up to keep them from escaping, and keeps them there, conscious, but helpless. Then, whenever the spider needs a snack, it scurries over to the fly, injects it with venom to dissolve some of its insides, and slurps up some of its life force.
This is the way many people think of "love." They will say, in all honesty, that they love their children, their partners, their friends more than anything in the world. But their love is consumptive, not giving. They need their "loved ones" to feed them emotionally, so they imprison people, trap them in webs of obligation or guilt, paralyze them to keep them from going away. They love other people the way spiders love flies.
Before you set out to lead a relationship where conflict is occurring, remember this: The goal of real love is to set the beloved free. If someone else's "love" requires that you abandon your own soul, it's spider love. If you find yourself trying to control a loved one, you're in the spider's role. Spider love really isn't love at all but a version of fear that creates a perceived need to control.
There are two red flags that will start to wave when real love disappears and spider behavior begins. The first is the deception, by which I mean saying or doing anything at all that is not honest for you. The second is the word make. When you do something even slightly dishonest because you're trying to make someone do or feel something, love is no longer running the show. This is just as true when you're trying to make people feel good and loving as it is when you're trying make them follow your orders. People-pleasing and guilt-inducing are as much control strategies as domination.
If you're on the giving end of spider love, you'll feel grasping, desperate, angry, wounded, or all of the above. If you're on the receiving end, you'll feel a desperate desire to escape, often muted by your own rationalizations. "Mom's just trying to make me happy," you might think. "That's why she's offered me a house if I get gastric bypass surgery." Or "Coach only screams at me because he's trying to make me achieve my potential." Or "Jesse just needs to make sure I deserve his trust; that's why he's tied me to this chair."
If you find yourself repeatedly convincing yourself someone loves you, check yourself for spider glue. If your body and your mood darkens when you think of the person who's trying to "make you happy," listen to it. If you feel wretched and panicky with the need to control someone else, realize you may be playing the spider yourself. Either way, leave the web behind. Detach. Whatever your role in the drama, drop it and begin focusing on real love, the sort that always frees the beloved. You can think of it as Stargazer love, because at the level where you are truly steering by starlight, you'll do it naturally.
Reading this made me realize that the "love" that I had in the past was NOT the kind that builds each other up, it just broke me down. Who I am at my core, what makes me the person I am, what makes people like me and enjoy me is perfectly explained by an indecent that happened when I was 3.
My family and I had just moved into a new neighborhood. As I stood looking at the kids playing in the street, I formulated a plan. I went to my mom and asked if I could have a popsicle ...it was after all a hot Arizona summer day. When she said yes I ran to the door, flung it open and called out
"Hey!! Pop Pops for everyone!!"
That's me. That's what makes me at my core. I love people. I love to make people happy. I love to invite people over. I love to cook for people. I love to talk to people. I love to bring a smile to someones face. I love to give money to homeless people. I love to give cupcakes to people at work.
I love people!
I am a social butterfly.
I want everyone in the world to acknowledge our differences and celebrate them!
I want everyone to gather on the porch and enjoy a cherry popsicle on a hot summers day and relish the simplistic joy of the moment.
I am a light. We all have that light. And I know you will be able to find the light if its missing. Look a picture of yourself as a kid. Find that snapshot of you in the midst of a moment of pure happiness. That moment is your joy. And no matter what any spider tries to do, no one can take away your light.
I know my last few posts have been a little on the angry, a little on the bitter side. But that's over now.
My light is back. No one will take it again.
And the mantra I have started to repeat to myself that helps me raise my standards
(as Tony Robbins would say) is
"My husband. The man I will marry....would NEVER treat me that way"
I know I know, I haven't really been blogging like I said I would. Like most of my plans, something gets in the way! It's actually day 4 around here. So far, I feel like I have made some progress on navigating myself out of that thick wood. It hasn't been really easy but then it hasn't been really that difficult. I did half a day of the Dr Oz 3 Day Cleanse on Monday....that lasted until dinner time and book club. Not because I didn't want to do it but because I realized doing it on a weekday when I need all my brain cells on high alert was not the best thing. I didn't go back to drinking coffee though and I have been eating really clean.
On day 2 I did hot yoga. My cousin swore up and down that it would give me a 'yoga high' after I did. Can I just tell you.... that shit is HOT! I sweated out probably 4 years of toxins in 90 minutes. My yoga high didnt come until the following morning. I think I was shell shocked up to then. At one point ,as I laid in what the incredibly perky and flat stomached yoga instructor called vinyasa and the smell of the gentleman (who I think almost passed out) next to me flitted into my nose, I had a revelation about dating.
A good relationship reflects the best of you. It highlights your best features, it shows you what makes you special and rare. Why you, of all people, are blessed to have someone love you like he does and how amazing you are. I have been dating guys that made me feel like didn't feel like I was a blessing. I felt like a burden. Like I was a cross to bear, not a gift.
Someone made the comment that I'm doing the gym during my lunch hour, the hot yoga, the kickboxing, the eating healthy so I can go out and meet someone. It was actually very hurtful to me. I'm not trying to get myself into the best spiritual, physical and mental shape for any other reason than for the zombie apocalypse. Kidding. It was hurtful because I'm only doing it for me. I want to feel that I have some strength in this world full of madness. That I can count on myself to be as good to myself as I can. That same person said that I want to be single. That I don't want to share my life with someone or have children. That hurt too. Because that's not the truth. But someone can only jump and fall on the cement so many times before they start to really look at the cost of that jump. You can only love and trust someone freely so many times. When that trust, that gift of unconditional love is abused so many times....its hard to even lean on that person.
Someone can only play 'chicken' with you for so many times before you end up falling off the cliff.......
I bet you are feeling a bit abandoned. I haven't written in...well... a very long time. Last year, roughly about this same time, I started to follow some breadcrumbs. I picked up those breadcrumbs willingly and happily and I really had some amazing wonderful times picking up those breadcrumbs. But while I was following that trail, I lost myself. I found myself alone in a wooded forest of thick emotion. I was all alone, confused, sad and scared. I kept looking for the breadcrumbs and looking for a way to the light again. I frantically looked for some time for a path, for a crumb, for any kind of hope.
Last weekend, I went away on vacation and found my first ray of sunshine. It took a bit for it to sink in, to really understand what I had to do to leave that dark place. Truth be told, I'm still in it. I'm still holding onto the last piece of bread that I had found. But I can hold on to the bread or I can head the advise of the breadcrumb thrower, to move on and not bother to look for the crumbs anymore. A good friend told me about this 21 day meditation thing that Deepak Chopra and Oprah do, thus the 21 day project.
Starting Monday, I get this little email that teaches guided meditation. I'm taking it a few steps further. I'm going into a sort of deep freeze. I'm going to de-toxify my body (which after all that bread has gained 30 pounds) and I'm going to de-toxify my heart (which has taken quite a beating).
Only healthy, organic food and absolutely no, none, zilch men. I don't care if Bradley Cooper himself asks me out, no way jose! I am not dating, touching, kissing, nothing at all for at least the next 21 days.
What does this mean for you? Well, I'm going to blog each and every day about it. Kind of an online diary. Hopefully, it will get me back into the swing of baring my soul for the wide vast 7 followers that I have. See you Monday.