November 7, 2013

four great truffles to make this holiday season

By Raleigh-Elizabeth. Pistachio and Cardamom Truffle how-to from Buttercream & Roses, one of the most beautifully photographed food blogs out there.

Yesterday, my manly-man Marine husband turned to me in the kitchen and said, with what can only be described as childlike glee, “It’s almost time for Christmas movies!” While he proceeded to start quoting Christmas Vacation to our clueless four-month-old son, I started thinking about Rudolph, Frosty, and Chocolat.

Yep, Chocolat.

If you haven’t seen it, Chocolat is a fantastic movie about a young mother and her daughter who open a chocolate shop in small French town and shake up the status quo. It’s a precious watch and very belly-warming (which is like what Eat, Pray, Love should have been, because the “Eat” part of the book was really my favorite). After all, Chocolat has a great many things going for it. France! A cute child! A love story! French accents! Chocolates!

Note: If, like I, you think Chocolat is a slightly bizarre holiday movie selection, know you are not alone. Time Warner Cable sometimes has a lot of explaining to do. But when it comes to chocolate, should we ever look a gift horse in the mouth? I say no.

But I was not always a chocolate person. In those dark days before I’d come to my senses, smelled the chocolate, and seen the light, I remember wondering what all the fuss was about. Strawberries are delicious without chocolate. I can do without a Kit Kat. Why have a brownie when you can have a pie?

And then I discovered Vosges.

Vosges is a high to-do chocolatier based in Chicago (Edit: I was originally told by a saleswoman at a New York store that it was a New York company. Clearly, she felt that New York could only be bestowed the title of Best City Ever if Vosges called it home. Sadly for New York at least, she was mistaken. Ladies and Gentlemen, that award – today at least – goes straight to Chicago!) that specializes in what they call “haut chocolate.” It’s fancy schmancy, there’s no way around it, but it’s also not exactly chocolate. It’s an experience.

I got my first bar of Vosges chocolate at Garden of Eden, my former neighborhood grocer. The label was exotic: succulent red, rich brown, empty white. It pictured a cinnamon stick, a crushed pepper, and a square of chocolate that, to this uninitiated cocophile, looked like everything chocolate was supposed to be. And it was called the Red Fire Bar. Now, we all know I’m the kind of person who waxes poetic about food, but this was chocolate. And there was no reason for me to wax poetic about it, especially when I was standing there holding a fresh baguette and some good camembert. I could take or leave the chocolate.

But that label jumped out at me, and it was enough to have me imagining Rudyard Kipling nibbling on this chocolate. I could almost hear him saying Din! Din! Din! through the wrapper.

I obviously had to buy it.

The very next day, I went back for two more. The day after after that, more still. There were blood orange caramel chocolates, bacon and chocolate bars, chocolates with toffee and caramel and pink Himalayan sea salt. Soon, I had become a chocolate person and I hadn’t even realized it. I started amassing delicious-sounding chocolate bars to share with my friends and family and any students that wandered into my office (I worked at Columbia at the time).

I had chocolates to taste in small portion and chocolates to savor at dessert. I had truffles to bring to friends and bars to included in care packages and then, one day, eating the inordinately delicious dark chocolate covered sea salt caramels you can get in the bakery section of Whole Foods, I had an epiphany: If I am going to be one of those people who loves chocolate and consumes it like it’s her life’s purpose, well, then I ought to at least try to make it.

And that’s when I discovered that the only thing more fun than eating delicious chocolate is inventing and making it.

My first batch of truffles (pineapple, oolong, chocolate with some coconut on top) were nothing to write home about (no one could taste the oolong and the pineapple became gummy), but much like my love of chocolate itself, taste by taste, they’ve gotten addictive.

Chocolate truffles are great this time of year because little is more festive as a hostess present than a small box of homemade truffles. These bourbon truffles from Southern Living are really fantastic (and not too bourbony), and I also really like these pistachio and cardamom truffles, which are just the right amount of fancy (doesn’t that sound fancy?) and the right amount of “Hey! That was easy! Let’s do it again!” These earl grey and vanilla bean truffles are perfect for your tea-loving friend, and who doesn’t want some chocolate pomegranate truffles?

Make some chocolates for your next dinner party. Take them to coffee hour at church on Sunday. Spice up the annual Cookie Exchange with a little truffle curfuffle. But whatever you do, give them a shot. The world is a better place with chocolate in it, and we’re supposed to be the good we want to see in this world, right? Clearly, that makes it our job to make more chocolate. Delicious, fantastic chocolate.

Tell me: Do you like chocolate too? What’s your favorite thing to do with it? (Recipe sharing welcome!)

P.S. — Here’s a helpful (and beautiful!) Guide to Tasting Fine Chocolate if you need any more encouragement.

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Just Moms » Blog Archive » Chocolat
November 7, 2013 at 8:46 pm

{ 21 comments… read them below or add one }

1 becky November 7, 2013 at 9:58 am

Lovely article – and very excited to try the pistachio/cardamom truffle recipe. Just a note – I think that Vosges is actually based in Chicago.


2 Raleigh-Elizabeth November 7, 2013 at 12:14 pm

You know, I know they do all their processing there, so I wondered that myself. But a saleswoman in one of the New York stores told me they’re actually based out of the city – so who knows. Either way, great cities, great chocolate. I’m SO intrigued by the ‘lifestyle’ building they’re doing in Chicago! It’s LEED and everything!


3 Grace@ Sense and Simplicity November 7, 2013 at 10:24 am

I love chocolate. In fact I have to have some every day. I like good quality milk chocolate and am learning to love dark chocolate more and more. I like straight chocolate the most, but also love brownies and the usual baked goodies made with chocolate. Of all the baked goodies though, my all time favourite are the chocolate chip cookies my Mom makes – you can find the recipe here:


4 Raleigh-Elizabeth November 7, 2013 at 12:14 pm

Those look to die for! Thank you for sharing, Grace!


5 Grace @ sense and simplicity November 7, 2013 at 3:37 pm

By the way, why is Chocolat considered a Christmas movie? I love that movie and I totally agree that it gets my mouth watering looking at all the chocolate creations, but I never thought of it as a Christmas movie.


6 Raleigh-Elizabeth November 7, 2013 at 3:42 pm

Me either. But the people at Time Warner are full of surprises.


7 Jen November 7, 2013 at 10:32 am

I freaking love Chocolat! One of my favorite movies of ALL TIME. Interestingly, this is one of those odd cases where the movie outshines the books by far. And in yet another case of life imitating art, hot chocolate is our treat of choice every Monday night at my daughter’s request.


8 Raleigh-Elizabeth November 7, 2013 at 12:15 pm

Your daughter’s one smart cookie : ) And hooray Chocolat! It really is a terrific movie : )


9 yasmara November 7, 2013 at 12:58 pm

Chicago!! That saleswoman should know better!!


10 Raleigh-Elizabeth November 7, 2013 at 1:43 pm

Well, this just proves that Chicago is the greatest place out there. Aviary AND Vosges? Sigh.


11 Heather Anthony November 7, 2013 at 1:23 pm

Chocolat is one of my all time favorite movies. I usually watch it around Valentine’s Day, actually. And since most of the movie takes place during Lent, it seems like Easter would be the religious holiday most associated with it.

Harry Potter is another one of those movies that has nothing to do with Christmas, but seems to play as a marathon leading up to it.


12 Raleigh-Elizabeth November 7, 2013 at 1:44 pm

And Harry Potter is another movie I have no problem with them showing in a particularly strange tradition that has nothing to do with Christmas. Who cares! Hahhhreeee Pohhhhtahhh (sorry. Big fan here.)


13 Tasha November 7, 2013 at 1:29 pm

I am craving this movie! I LOVE it! I adore the actors as well – J.Binoch so beautiful and alluring, Johnny D. very sweet (and I’m not his biggest fan)!
The colors and settings of her shoppe are phenomenal, the mood, amazing! I never thought I’d crave chicken smothered in chocolate, but it all looks so darn delish!
A must see ♥

I am lucky to have an old-fashioned shop around the corner – Commodore. It is a favorite treat although I don’t often get it. I still adore a Valentine heart box filled with my creams and caramels. So romantic to me. It is by far my favorite chocolate!

Embarrassingly, on the cheaper side, and I have to hide this fact usually, I DO like Hershey’s. Shhh!


14 Raleigh-Elizabeth November 7, 2013 at 1:45 pm

I really think that’s something you should sing from the mountain top. I cannot tell a lie: there is nothing I love QUITE like I love a Payday bar. The organic-produce-buyer in me cringes, but man. That salty sweet deliciousness can’t be beat : )

I can’t wait to check out Commodore!


15 Tasha November 7, 2013 at 8:01 pm

Funny! Love the support:)
I see they have a website in the build. I never went when their malted counter existed many years ago, I’m sad I missed that. I know they do an annual candy cane-making event.
Hope you like it as much as I do.
This will help – the chocolate-covered strawberries are delish!!!


16 Lucy November 7, 2013 at 2:57 pm

What does look a gift horse in the mouth mean? I’ve never heard that saying!


17 Raleigh-Elizabeth November 7, 2013 at 3:41 pm

Ahh! It’s an old-fashioned saying. So, a horse’s worth (back when people relied on them to get around) was estimated by his teeth – you could tell a lot about a horse from his teeth. So when it says you don’t look a gift-horse in the mouth, it basically means you’re not looking at the label/price tag on your gift: It’s a present, you won’t take it for granted.


18 Katherine November 7, 2013 at 6:10 pm

Love the movie! I happened to see it in Athens. A girlfriend and I were homesick college students and saw that it was playing in the theater. We figured it would be dubbed in greek but it was still better than nothing. But, it was in English with greek subtitles so it was awesome. It is still one of my favorites.

And, love the truffle recipes. One of my favorite gifts to make!


19 Mandy November 7, 2013 at 11:53 pm

Oh! I can’t wait to try these new truffle recipes. I love making them for Christmas gifts. And that is definitely one of my all time favorite movies. Might have to watch it this weekend while I make one of these new recipes! Thank you. Also, very well written post. I always love your posts!


20 The Other Robin November 8, 2013 at 4:52 pm

Yes! I love Chocolat, too! It’s a feast! Those beauty shots of the chocolate, Django Reinhardt as played by Johnny Depp, crusty old Judy Dench, that mind-boggling tree by the river, Roux promising to get that squeak out of her door (*wink wink!)! I might be weird, but it has become our “Easter Movie”, since it takes place during Lent and ends on Easter Sunday.
My husband adores cardamom so the truffles look like they are definitely going to happen over here! Maybe a surprise for our anniversary at the end of the month… Thanks for the link.


21 Kate November 8, 2013 at 7:43 pm

I made truffles for the first time last year…to die for!


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