It’s Valentine’s Day, and that means we all feel bitter and assaulted by advertising – even those of us who are in that maudlin state, love. This is, of course, no reason not to eat chocolate today. Don’t let anybody tell you otherwise. There’s plenty of upsetting literature* on how women supplant human love with sweets. Don’t let that stop you either. In fact, here’s a recipe I recently made for Jesse’s twenty-first birthday – truffles that are sensous no matter how many people are at the table, in bed, or in the kitchen at midnight. I also think they make great gifts. I used to make mix tapes as my go-to gift; you’ll see the influence in the name. There used to be a B-track truffle too, but, as always, it just wasn’t as good.
A-track Truffles: Make an almond praline by heating one cup sugar, one half cup water and a drop of vanilla extract in a sauce pan until the mixture is a golden, caramel color and strings.
Pour this over blanched, sliced almonds and spread them out on a baking sheet covered with parchment paper. Cook in the oven at 400 degrees for about 10 minutes or until they’re toasted. Then grind them to a fine consistency in a food processor with sugar, blood orange rind, cocoa powder and a little bit of instant coffee. Set aside.
In a double boiler (note that mine is make-shift), add small amounts of heavy cream, fresh blood orange juice, vanilla extract, very good quality balsamic vinegar, instant coffee, honey, pinch chili powder, sugar and 12oz. semi-sweet Ghirardelli chocolate chips. I know this sounds like a lot of ingredients, but they really are so lovely all together. Stir until smooth. Then add a few thin pats of butter, and stir until they melt.
Cool in the freezer until you can mold them into little balls in the palms of your hands. Don’t worry about uniformity, because it’s overrated. Put the ground praline you made in a bowl, and then roll the truffles in it until they have a thin crust. Delicious.
*Susan Bordo. “Hunger as Ideology.” Reprinted in Eating Culture. Eds. Ron Scapp and Brian Seitz. Albany: University of New York, 1998.