(PRWEB) February 16, 2012
Chocolate, possessed of natural chemicals that unleash positive feelings in those who indulge, is in a class of potent love foods that bring extra meaning to the table this leap year, says Ecole Chocolat Lead Instructor Pam Williams.
“When it comes to marriage proposals, it's often the man who takes the initiative. But this is a leap year, and that brings up the ancient tradition of women doing the asking,” Williams says, adding: “Not that women need the calendar's permission to do so anymore – today's women take charge in any arena they want. But marriage proposals tend to follow more traditional models, so things are more relaxed this year.”
Leap year happens every four years, when an extra day is tacked on to the end of February to make up for six hours every year that our calendars aren't able to accommodate. It's a way of keeping the world's seasons from eventually spinning off track.
The tradition of women doing the proposing is thought to have started in fifth-century Ireland when St. Bridget complained to St. Patrick that too many men waited too long to propose marriage. Legend has it that St. Patrick agreed and said women could turn the tables on their reluctant men every four years on Feb. 29.
Combine this tradition with the feel-good substances found in chocolate, and you have a recipe for at least a lovely evening of romance. Chocolate brims with theobromine, a mood enhancer, as well as phenethylamine, which triggers the release of pleasure-inducing endorphins and activates dopamine, a neurochemical associated with sexual arousal and pleasure, according to John Robbins, best-selling author of several books on food and health.
So without further ado, here are some easy recipes from William's bottomless bag of chocolate goodies. “They're sure to win anyone's heart, whether there are wedding bells in the picture or not,” she says. One word of advice: “Use the best quality chocolate you can get your hands on. We've suggested several brands but any fine chocolate should work,” Williams says.
Scotch Lover's Chocolate Truffles
Notes: We used two 100g bars of 60% dark chocolate from Green & Black, but use any good chocolate that has 60% cocoa solids. We used the full amount of Scotch to get a stronger flavor, but it also made a softer truffle. Cut the cream by a tablespoon if you want a firmer truffle but more boozy flavor or just go with one tablespoon. If you prefer milk chocolate – which is also delicious with this – reduce the cream by a third. The recipe will work with other liquors or liqueurs.
Yield: Makes about 14 one-inch truffles
7 oz. (200g) dark chocolate (60%), chopped fine
1/3 cup (75ml) whipping cream (or 1 tbsp. and 2 tsps. if using milk chocolate)
1-2 tbsps. Scotch
About 1/2 cup (125g) finely grated chocolate for rolling the truffles and unsweetened cocoa for dusting hands.
Place finely chopped chocolate into a high-sided bowl or the bowl of a blender. Place cream in a saucepan over medium heat until hot but not simmering; remove the pan from the heat.
Pour hot cream over the chocolate and mix thoroughly with a blender or a hand-held immersion blender until you achieve a smooth consistency. You can also stir by hand with a sturdy whisk, spatula or wooden spoon.
Once chocolate is thoroughly melted, add Scotch, one tablespoon at a time, and stir well to blend. Let mixture stand at room temperature for at least one hour and up to two hours until ganache is firm.
Dust hands with cocoa. Scrape spoon or melon-ball cutter across surface of mixture; quickly press with fingertips into 1-inch (2.5cm) balls. Drop the balls into the grated chocolate and roll until well coated. Place on Silpat, wax paper or parchment paper to set for several hours.
Store truffles in the refrigerator in an air-tight plastic container or bag for 1 week or freeze, triple wrapped, in freezer bags for 1-2 months.
Coffee Fanatic Chocolate Truffles
Notes: We tried this recipe with both 60 percent dark and good quality milk chocolate (Divine). The dark chocolate produced an intensely flavored bonbon that is lactose-free and is guaranteed to be a black-coffee and dark-chocolate addict's dream. Those who prefer their coffee with cream and their chocolate with less bite would like the milk chocolate version better. Reduce the amount of coffee by one third if using milk chocolate.
Yield: Makes about 14 one-inch truffles
7 oz. (200g) dark chocolate (chopped fine)
1/3 cup (75ml) coffee or espresso, depending on how strong you want the coffee flavor (or 1 tbsp. and 2 tsps. if using milk chocolate)
1/2 tbsp. salted or unsalted butter (optional)
1/2 cup (125ml) unsweetened cocoa for rolling the truffles
Place finely chopped chocolate into a high-sided bowl or the bowl of a blender. Place coffee in a saucepan over medium heat until hot but not simmering; remove the pan from the heat. Or microwave coffee in a cup for 30 seconds.
Pour hot coffee over chocolate and blend in blender or in bowl with hand-held immersion blender. Or stir with a sturdy whisk, spatula or wooden spoon until you achieve a smooth consistency.
Add butter, if desired, and stir into the mixture until very smooth consistency is reached. Make sure all chocolate lumps are melted. Let stand at room temperature for one to two hours until ganache has set and is firm.
Scrape spoon or melon-ball cutter across surface of mixture. Dust hands with cocoa and quickly press truffle with fingertips into 1-inch (2.5cm) balls. Drop the balls into the cocoa and roll until well coated. Place on Silpat, waxed paper or parchment paper to set for several hours. Store truffles in the refrigerator in and air-tight plastic container or bag for 1 week or freeze, triple wrapped, in freezer bags for 1-2 months.
Founded in 2003, Ecole Chocolat Professional School of Chocolate Arts offers a portfolio of programs for chocolate making – mastering techniques while gaining the expertise and business knowledge needed to become a professional chocolatier or chocolate maker. Ecole Chocolat’s founder Pam Williams is the recipient of the Award of Excellence in Service to the Industry from the Fine Chocolate Industry Association. For more recipes, see our website: http://www.ecolechocolat.com/chocolate-recipe.php