“One must ask children and birds how cherries and strawberries taste.”
~ Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
A Time to Gather Strawberries
Strawberry Moon is the name the Algonquin North American Native tribes so aptly gave to June’s full moon because they knew it as the time to gather ripening strawberries. Although neither the wild mountain strawberries nor the plump green berries growing in my strawberry pot have yet ripened, our locally grown field-ripened strawberries are starting to flood the farmers markets. Each year, with my very first bite of that first red strawberry of the season, I am instantly transported back in space and time to a visit to my grandmother’s house as a little girl.
Another Arctic cold front has settled in here—there’s a ton of fresh snow and it’s colder out there than a tin toilet top. But, truth be told, I’m rather enjoying it! It’s so pretty outside and inside it’s so wonderfully warm and snug and cozy—perfect weather for snuggling up in front of a fire with a good book and nibbling on a little something. I must say, however, that I do have a minor crisis on my hands: for some of us, fine chocolate is the fuel of choice in extremely cold weather and my chocolate supply is evaporating rather quickly—diminishing to dangerously low levels, ebbing just below my psychological comfort zone. And that will certainly never do, especially not in the face of this chilly winter cold front.
My homemade marzipan balls with orange blossom water and candied orange peel, dipped in white chocolate and garnished with chopped pistachios.
Seize the moment.
Remember all those women on the Titanic who waved off the dessert cart.
Chocolate-Covered Marzipan Balls
Chocolate and marzipan pair beautifully together. And nothing could be easier than rolling marzipan balls and dipping them into the chocolate of your choice. Make some of these, throw a few into a festive bag along with some Homemade Chocolate Truffles (see my previous post) and you’ve got a great gift.
“All you need is love.
But a little chocolate now and then doesn’t hurt.”
~ Charles M. Schulz
A Fabulous Gift to Give and Receive
High quality chocolate truffles are a chocolate lover’s dream come true. Made from only a few simple but perfect ingredients—good chocolate, heavy cream and a bit of butter—truffles impart their pure chocolatey goodness in one perfect, creamy, heavenly bite. The other great thing about truffles, that you may not know, is that they are fun and easy to make—albeit somewhat of a sweet chocolatey mess (which, of course, is the kind of problem one wishes to encounter more of in life). If you can bear to give any away, these Dark Chocolate Truffles make a lovely gift.
These tasty chocolate lollipops couldn’t be easier to make. All you need is 16 ounces of an excellent quality chocolate, about a 1/2 cup (each) of two kinds of garnish of your choice and a playful spirit. They are especially fun to make with kids, small or big!
I like to use a combination of semi-sweet dark chocolate and milk chocolate for my lollipops, but you can use any chocolate you prefer: bitter-sweet, semi-sweet, milk chocolate (or any combination thereof) or even white chocolate. Dried fruit and toasted nuts make excellent topping choices, but go wild with any toppings you’d like. The only goal here is to have fun with it. Also, it doesn’t hurt to get a lot of chocolate on your fingers as you clean up, just so you have to lick them.
Until now, I’ve always tempered my chocolate using a double boiler and I admit that my chocolate didn’t always come out perfectly. This time, I tried Jacque Torres’ microwave chocolate-tempering method (see reference links below) as outlined by Ina Garten. Somewhat hesitant to try this method (as I rarely use my microwave for anything other than softening butter or heating up leftover pizza), I decided to give it a whirl. And I’m happy to report that I’m delighted with the microwave chocolate tempering method! It couldn’t be easier and it worked perfectly, resulting in a smooth, glossy, well-tempered chocolate. I will never use the double boiler again!