Welcome back! Chocolate, where to we begin? The food of the Gods, do we really need to say more? There is evidence that the heritage of the cacao bean in South American culture goes back over 3,500 years but it was not until the mid 1800’s that what we today view as chocolate was invented through the extracting and reintroducing of cocoa butter into the cocoa mass and the addition of sweeteners and optionally, dairy.
Back in the day, chocolate was a bitter liquid to be consumed by those of some importance. Records show that it was also given ( mixed with the blood of a previous offering ) to those intended for sacrifice, as encouragement to dance in the celebrations before the ceremonies were completed and new offerings made.
Cocoa beans were also used for currency so when Scott Cunningham in his New Moon Journal writes “Chocolate, then, is a food of prosperity and luxury. This combination of cocoa and sugar produces a blend of projective energies (those which are aggressive, outward) as well as receptive energies (those which are passive, inward). This, in addition to its prosperous nature, creates a balanced tool useful for attracting money.“, he establishes a strong connection between chocolate, abundance, prosperity and currency, most appropriate for a harvest celebration. A celebration also connected to sacrifice.
You will need:
2/3 cup chopped good quality dark chocolate
1-2 Tbsp. scalded whipping cream
1 Tbsp. port or any other liquor you would prefer to use.
Melt your chocolate over hot water or through short bursts ( under 1 minute ) in a microwave. Chocolate will cook if too much heat is used to melt the solid pieces so be careful not to leave it alone over boiling water or melting for too long a time in the microwave. This is a relatively small amount of chocolate so mix well in between times in the microwave and reduce the time by half each time you put in back in. Once your chocolate is 70% melted,it is possible to remove it from either heat source and stir to melt the remaining bits. Make sure you wipe all water off the bottom of the bowl if you are melting over water as water in the chocolate will make it seize up.
Scald the whipping cream. Add to the melted chocolate and mix well. Add port and mix. It is also possible to not add any alcohol. The needed volume of liquid can be made up entirely of scalded whipping cream. ( In a pinch, I have also been known to use straight alcohol, oops, was that my outside typing?) The picture to the right is unfortunately a bit fuzzy, and NO! it is not because I was at the port. I wanted to show you the change in colour and texture to the chocolate as the liquids are added. Your truffle mixture is now much more the consistency of an icing than before the fluids were added. I am usually reminded of a comment made by Joanne Harris, the author of Chocolat, “cooking is the only socially acceptable form of alchemy”.
In a shop this warmer, softer mixture would be piped into small ball molds and then popped out for finishing. The option we will use today is to allow the mixture to firm up in the fridge and then roll by hand to form the truffles. Wash your hands before starting and use the water temperature to adjust the heat levels in your hands if need be; cooler and you will be able to roll longer. Your hands will get dirty and the cocoa butter does wonders for your skin.
Once cool ( a couple of hours ) divide into 6 pieces. and roll into balls. As you work the chocolate will melt. It has not been tempered and the heat from your hands will begin to melt the chocolate so work efficiently. Drop the balls into cocoa while the outside layer is still sticky and roll in cocoa until covered.
I am choosing this time to not be too anal about shape. This is because they are for a harvest tea. When truffle chocolates were first created they were rolled in cocoa to make them resemble the dirt covered truffle fungi pictured below, found by specially trained pigs in France. I wanted to get closer to that more natural shape. and image.
The ganache ( chocolate and whipping cream ) mixture that is being rolled and covered could also have been rolled in chopped nuts or chocolate shot ( vermicelli ) or dipped in tempered chocolate. If you would like perfect balls, then roll a little longer and they will continue to soften, getting closer to the fine line between workable and too soft to handle. If you step over, just put them back in the fridge for a bit to harden before finishing up the balls.
On a physical level, Phenylethylamine aka the “love chemical” is one of chocolates main ingredients so it is understandable that chocolates have also been considered an aphrodisiac. An amino acid in chocolate, tryptophan works with the neurotransmitter serotonin to reduce anxiety. Additionally endorphins or “happy hormones” are released in the body and brain when eating chocolate. It is also high in antioxidants, which can help fight free radicals and improve blood pressure and blood flow.
During Lammas tea suggest that each guest focus on the feeling, taste and texture of their truffle, as it melts on the tongue, being mindful of thoughts of gratitude and appreciation for what is manifest in their lives and openness to receiving ongoing, increasing bounty.
The shelf life on these truffles is about 3 weeks. There are other recipes using butter that will last a little longer but these are best enjoyed more quickly and truthfully if someone gets their hands on them, they may not make it to the tea so maybe best to double the recipe.
Port Truffles from My Kitchen Wand