The Simple Things

With my life being so busy at the moment – I feel I hardly have any time to myself – I’m taking great pleasure in the little things. In the things which take little energy or effort. The Simple Things In Life.

My favourite recipes are quick and easy; the sort which can be committed to memory after one or two attempts and can be adapted without trouble.

As an example, chocolate truffles. The basic recipe I use can be adapted for all sorts of flavours and types of chocolate, and these days, can be made in about 5 minutes. 20 if you include the rolling out. And I suppose there’s the 3 hours or so waiting for the mixture to set.

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I prefer to use dark chocolate – it seems to handle the melting and mixing process more happily than milk or white. In fact, unless absolutely necessary, I don’t use milk chocolate at all.

White chocolate is so-so. The fat tends to come out more with white chocolate which gives the mix an odd appearance, but doesn’t affect the taste. Might just be the cheap chocolate, of course. On the other hand, it’s better for more delicate flavours than dark, which can overpower.

The above truffles are raspberry and coconut. With a splash of mango vodka.

 

“You Made That? Gosh, How Clever!”

There is something terribly clever about crafting. I know this to be true because of the number of comments over the years which go along the lines of “You made this? Gosh, you are clever!” when told that whatever is being admired was handmade.

Certainly there is a skill with most handicrafts, I’m not for one instant suggesting that there isn’t, but when the sewing on of a button is met with the same sort of admiration, it does make one wonder…

To be honest, I think the cleverest thing about crafting is in the creation and establishment of a craft-based business, especially when it comes to dealing with the taxman! The other clever thing is in not letting the fact that now your hobby, which you enjoy, is your life and you will probably occasionally hate it, stop you from continuing.

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Sometimes I wonder about setting up a chocolate shop. I like chocolate; people say I make pretty good truffles, which I enjoy making. But I’m not sure if I’d want to spend all my time making them. Mind you, a thought occurs to me: Roly’s Fudge, which I realise probably means little to those of you who haven’t been to Taunton or Barnstaple.

Roly’s make fudge in the shop and they change their menu daily, I presume on the basis either of ingredients available or mood of the makers.

Although the idea I had recently for my ideal chocolate shop is a moving one on a canal boat. Not wholly my idea, there’s a floating chocolate shop which turns up in Stockholm at Easter-time. But again, would I want to spend all my time making chocolates?

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What’s the cleverest thing about crafting for you?

The Simple Things

Sometimes, the simple things are best.

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Leaving my beloved kittens behind, I have returned to life in the Real World. It is a life in which I shall have little time to myself, to dedicate to my dreams, since I’m about to take up full-time employment. I’m working out how best to proceed with all of that, and organising my time efficiently. I’m hoping that the need to be efficient in my professional life will rub off into my personal life and I’ll suddenly become hyper-organised all round.

Really, I need to work out how not to be tired when I come home from work.

Thus it is that I’ve had little time or energy to do any actual baking. I’ve gone with a recipe which I know like the back of my hand, and which takes barely ten minutes, rolling the truffles not included.

Simply melt together 200g chocolate, 50g unsalted butter and 50ml double cream. When it’s melted and smooth, pour into a bowl and leave in the fridge to set. Roll into balls on a cocoa-powder-covered surface and return to the fridge to set some more. Eat, enjoy.

Jammy Truffles

Ah, the joys of chocolate! No kitchen is complete without some! And mine has 3-litre Kilner jars of white, milk and dark chocolate buttons. And a diminishing bag of cacao chips.

But anyway. My love of chocolate is well-documented.

I like quick, simple recipes, ones which I can easily adapt to suit my own laziness.

This method of making truffles came about because I have jars of jam being otherwise uneaten. I’m not a huge jam-eater – I prefer my toast with no extra adornment than a good butter – and Mark doesn’t like the particular jams we have, being home-made damson and blackcurrant.

I figured that the jam might be a suitable replacement for the butter in a normal, truffle-ganache.

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So. You will need:

A sploosh of (preferably double) cream

A dollop or two of your preferred jam

Lots of chocolate (chips, or chopped bar)

(Or, if you prefer measurements: 50ml cream, a spoon of jam and 200g chocolate)

To make:

Gently heat the cream and jam over a moderate heat, stirring until the jam is all melted and it’s a lovely colour. Don’t quite boil. I don’t doubt but that you could make a blancmange like this if you so wished. I intend to test this theory at some point.

When the jam’s all melted and it’s all smooth, pour into the bowl of chocolate chips and stir until melted and smooth.

Leave to set before rolling in cocoa powder.

Chocolate Truffles

Do you have a signature recipe? A treat, perhaps, which others come to you for?

Mine’s the reason I became so obsessed with chocolate. It’s chocolate truffles. It quite honestly strikes me as peculiar that I have yet to share this happiness-in-a-mouthful recipe with you. Especially since it played such an important role in my relationship with chocolate.

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I won’t lie: at the time when I found this recipe (and subsequently adapted it to include more chocolate) I was addicted to chocolate. In the sense that I got withdrawal symptoms if I didn’t eat it regularly. Headaches for which pain-killers could do nothing but chocolate would dissolve. Grumpiness and irritability. Not pleasant. Thankfully, this is no longer the case, although I do still love chocolate.

I found this recipe in a Christmas recipe book. I’d decided that I’d spread Christmas cheer that year by making goodies for people. I reasoned it’d be cheaper and easier, since most people like truffles and fudge and cookies. I didn’t reckon on me wanting to keep making the truffles, which turned it into a slightly more expensive hobby than I’d anticipated. But never mind. Truffles are yummy. And really simple to make, I promise.

The basic recipe is thus:

For one batch (approx. 12-18 truffles, depending on size) you will need:

OK, this might actually be the ingredients for three batches...

OK, this might actually be the ingredients for three batches…

150-200g chocolateĀ (I find dark or white works best)

50g unsalted butter

approx. 50ml/a quarter of a cup double cream

opt. – flavouring (rum/whiskey/lemon juice/spices/etc.)

Cocoa powder

To begin, break the chocolate into small pieces and set aside in a bowl. Next, melt the butter in a saucepan with the cream and bring to the boil. Shouldn’t take you too long. Stir it to prevent burning.

Pour the butter-cream mixture into the bowl containing the chocolate and stir until it’s all melted and smooth. Add any flavourings. Alcohol *should* be limited to a couple of tablespoons. Stir, and leave to set for a few hours before rolling teaspoons of the ganache in cocoa powder into balls. If you can resist, pop them in the fridge before serving.

The reason that alcohol should be limited is because otherwise you can end up with quite boozy truffles. I know I got a little giggly after eating some of my early trials, where I measured alcohol by opening the bottle and pouring until I thought it was about right. Although, I did eat a good dozen or so. But anyway. You have been warned.

Consume responsibly.

Go. Have fun. Let me know how yours turn out. šŸ™‚