My mind was a-cogitatin' during the Nutcracker performance tonight and I decided to whip up a couple more ganaches tonight when I got home. What got me all fired up was thinking about creating a truffle with milk chocolate, imbued with Irish cream. I was contemplating rolling it in ground up chocolate covered coffee beans. That's an itch that just needed to be scratched, so can you blame me for chopping up some chocolate and getting to work again when I got home? Here's the kicker...I couldn't find a recipe that uses alcohol with milk chocolate so I sort of had to wing it. I'm going to write what I did, in case it works and I want to create it again. And if it doesn't work out, well, then I'll know to avoid it. The recipe I started with called for 8 oz. of chocolate and 1/2 cup, plus two tablespoons, of heavy cream. I wanted to make sure that the ganache was thick enough to roll or cut into squares, and since I wanted to double the amounts, I went with one cup of cream, two tablespoons of butter, a couple of teaspoons of vanilla and three tbsp of Irish Cream. Let me tell you, it's TASTY!!! We'll see what it looks like in the morning. If it's too runny I'm thinking it could really be a great filling for molded chocolates, which I haven't tried my hand at just yet.
I haven't broken out the dark chocolate yet either, so I whipped up a raspberry ganache using some really good Belgian dark chocolate. The recipe I used suggested steeping some raspberry or black currant tea with the cream while it heated, so I looked in the pantry and fortunately found some raspberry tea. It should add a nice complexity to the raspberry flavor which is heightened by adding some Chambord raspberry liqueur. That's the essence of raspberry and it's one of my favorite liqueurs. I'll always have that in my pantry. I was tempted to add some black pepper, believe it or not, but decided to hold off on that. I think that would have been a nice background note. As to the source of my recipe, I used Sherry Yards's recipe. She's one of my favorite pastry chefs and is the guru at Wolfgang Puck's restaurants. She really knows what she's doing and anything I've ever made from her book is absolutely top shelf. I highly recommend her book The Secrets of Baking.
I made another gelee earlier today as well. This one used sour cherries from Traverse City. I'm a little underwhelmed by these gelees. I need to do more research on them because none of them are really working out the way I want them to. They all are a bit droopy, for lack of a better word. They don't hold together like I want them to do, but I suspect that's because they're not laden with all kinds of chemicals. I think these are the types of things that you serve ala minute, putting them out with the hopes that your guests will eat them within minutes of serving. Regardless, I made the cherry gelees today and even if I never give them away I've just got to tell you how amazingly tasty they turned out. I've decied this: All God ever had to do was to make a cherry and I'd dedicate my life to him. The creative brilliance behind such a remarkable fruit makes me stand in awe. Sour cherries are so damn tasty that I'll get down on bended knee and thank the good Lord for giving them to us. The complexity of flavors in cherries really boggles my mind. And aren't you glad that cherries are red and not not brown? If anyone wants to know, incidentally, I eat to give praise to God. I'm going to go with this: eating is an act of worship. (Sounds like a keeper of a philosophy, don't you think?) So let me publicly say it: thank God for cherries! My life is decidedly richer and more complete because of a perfect little red fruit.
While mulling around in the kitchen, I was thinking about the anticipation I was feeling the other night on the eve of starting my chocolate marathon. It caused me to think back on moments in my childhood on the eve of vacation, or on Christmas Eve. My niece Betsy came to mind as well. Last Christmas, several of us went in together to buy her an awesome play kitchen that she wished for with all her little heart. That Christmas there wasn’t a happier girl in America than my niece. When no one else was around, she went up to her mom and said, “Mom, I’m so excited, I can’t get all my excited’s out!” I think God is pleased when we’re excited by good things, when we can’t sleep because we’re so excited at the prospect of an adventure or a fun endeavor. There is something good and wholesome about being so passionate about something that we can’t sleep. Making chocolates and candies feeds a desire to be creative within me, and I believe that desire stems from God. Anytime we use our creative skills we model ourselves after God, don’t you think? And when I think of Betsy not being able to get all of her excited’s out, I think about the fact that we are made in God’s image. Don’t you think that sometimes God is so excited that he can’t get all of his excited’s out? I think back on when God told me to just trust me—in my mind he appeared as excited at the prospect of me trusting him as my niece felt about that kitchen.
A few year's ago, there would have been a part of me that would have been a bit embarrassed to admit that I couldn’t sleep because I was thinking about chocolates, but thank God I’ve reached a point where I’m willing to celebrate that instead of be embarrassed by it. I think not being able to sleep before an exciting day is something that we have because we're made in God's image. I've just got to believe that God was thrilled and filled with excitement when he created the cherry! Imagine him saying to the angels, “check this out boys…go ahead and have a sample of my handiwork, and tell me what you think.” I’m thinking they gave him two thumbs up and that they echoed their God and said, “it’s good!” My satisfaction in making a tasty little treat is a mirror of that, but can you imagine conjuring up a cherry where none existed before? That just blows my mind.
For me, all I really need to believe in God is a cherry.
I gotta just tell you, my heart is filled with a lot of joy right now, and a lot of love for my Maker. I'm glad he called me to him, and my heart is filled with joy that can only come from him. And all of that because of chocolate and cherries.