I hope that you had a good holiday break, celebrating or just spending time relaxing, hopefully without pipes and heaters freezing on you because of a blizzard. Our holiday was quiet, loud, lovely and reflective all at once. Christmas wasn't anything huge or terribly fancy this year but we are lucky to have love and health, our couple and our families here and afar. It was filled with many heart warming and unexpected moments throughout the day, making it truly a wonderful time. And in my family, it's not Christmas without a batch of Truffes Au Chocolat. Really.
Seeing my nieces via webcam on Christmas Eve preparing for the "reveillon" twirling in their pretty new dresses, their hair held tight by shimmering headbands was a moment as delicious as cracking the crust of creme brulees. Watching my brother, their dad, the one who used to hide in my closet to scare me at night, this proud and gentle with his daughters was a moment to savour.
On Christmas day, I had a very much needed webcam moment with my mom. To prevent us from getting emotional, we had the toddler caroling for us but I know exactly what we were thinking about: my late brother and grandmother, reveillons dinners lasting until 3am, my uncles practical jokes, my grandmother's marzipan stuffed dates and making chocolate truffles.
Lots of you commented how much you liked learning about other people's cultures and traditions that may be completely different or somewhat similar than your own. I'm the same way. It makes the world go round really. I visited lots of blogs these past few days and like you, enjoyed reading about others' traditions or important moments. In my family, there is no Christmas without a good dose of chocolate and chocolate truffles to be exact. Wether we make, eat or give them.
Christmas preparations were always made between my grandmother and my mother around a cup of tea and a slice of cake. When I was six or so, I complained I had nothing to do, pulled out a magazine and told them I would make chocolate truffles, like the ones in the ad for Van Houten cocoa. I was actually secretely trying to find the source for the ones my grandmother's friend, Suzanne, used to make. They were so different than ours. Creamier, sweeter, richer.
Every year we would go from Aix to Paris to spend Christmas with my grandparents, and a visit to Suzanne and her husband was always on the agenda. I loved their small apartment beside the bicycle shop. It always smelled as if beef Bourguignon was on the stove. We would enter, quickly marvel at the tree and impatiently wait for Suzanne to get the big silver tin filled with chocolate truffles. One for each and two for our parents. Except my parents never saw any of them. The truffles never made it this far.
As years went by, many truffle recipes came between Suzanne's and me. She passed away, so did my grandmother. One day, I did find a scribbled piece of paper in my grandma's recipe box reading "Les truffes de Suzanne". My heart skipped a beat. The proportions seeemed right but there were no instructions. I know chocolate, I know truffling. "Can't be that hard" I thought. I got close but there always seemed to be something missing. I made five batches the week I found the recipe. Bill was a trooper and sampled them all, each time finding the new batch as good and decadent as the last.
After he sampled the last one, I plopped next to him on the sofa and mumbled "something's missing". That's when he pointed out the obvious. They were missing: Paulette, my grandmother and her pal Suzanne. Indeed, many things had changed since that time. Life had changed us but those memories also gave us the essence of who we were now as adults. He also was quick to say that I could stop my quest for that particular truffle recipe if I wished but he hoped I didn't while rubbing his belly in a facetious way.
This recipe for Truffes Au Chocolat is so far the closest I have gotten to Suzanne's and by the look on everyone's face the other day, I'm inclined to think it could be the best so far. I am not done tweaking it so who knows what next year's batch of truffles will bring...
8 1/4 oz (250gr) bittersweet dark chocolate (chopped, broken, or chips)
1 stick (115gr) unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 large egg yolks
1 cup (125gr) powdered sugar, unsifted
cocoa powder for dusting
Melt the chocolate in a large bowl set over a pot of simmering water (make sure that the bowl fits snuggly over the pot so that very little steam escapes). Stir occasionaly.
Remove from the heat and add the butter, one tablespoon at a time. Stir until completely incorporated. Add the egg yolks and powdered sugar whisking until the batter is smooth.
Refrigerate until firm, about 2 hours.
When ready to roll, scoop out balls of ganache with a spoon, roll them in between your palms fairly quickly and set them on a baking sheet. Cover loosely with a piece of plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight. The next day, roll them in the cocoa powder and keep refrigerated until ready to eat.
Yields 35 to 45 truffles, depending on size.