Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Chocolate Truffles and New Traditions

I don't spend much time thinking about Roo's food allergies anymore. At the risk of sounding blasé, I kind of run on autopilot these days. We eat at home most of the time. I know what pastas have egg in them, where to get a safe pizza, which ice cream parlors will open a fresh carton and change gloves, and if all else fails, there's always a stash of Dum Dums in my bag. Restaurants and potlucks still present some challenges but for the most part we just come prepared with a lunchbox full of safe foods and an EpiPen Jr. pack and enjoy the party.

But it never fails. At this time of year I start to grow a little rock garden in my gut. The first pebbles appear at Halloween when Roo hands over his peanut butter cups, Snickers, Butterfinger, and M&M's in exchange for half a bag of Dum Dums. Fortunately he doesn't recognize the injustice in this yet but it's coming.
Thanksgiving brings a few larger stones as Roo munches an egg-free chocolate chip cookie while the rest of us choose between an array of cookies, egg-y pumpkin pie, cheesecake, or downright scandalous pecan pie. Plunk, plunk, plunk.
Then Christmas rolls around - the holiday at our house in which baking traditions are stronger than ever and the boulders start bearing down. Buckeyes become SunButter Buckeyes. Seven Layer Bars become Five Layer Bars. I'm still trying to devise a way to make a decent egg-free lemon square. Fortunately my pal, Stephie, over at Eat Your Heart Out has offered the brilliant suggestion of adding gelatin. We'll be putting that one to the test soon. Thanks, Stephie.

So, I've discovered and devised all kinds of ways to make holiday treats that don't include eggs or nuts, but the truth is no matter how good they are, our egg-free, nut-free versions are not the ones I grew up with. Roo will never get to experience them the way I did. I'm certain that the gravity of this situation weighs much more heavily on my stomach than his, but still.
So that got me thinking, maybe it's time for some new traditions. Not egg-free, nut-free versions of old favorites, but bona fide, tried and true, yummy treats that never included the dreaded contraband to begin with. Enter decadent chocolate truffles.
Chocolate Truffles
adapted from Barefoot Contessa

1 pound awesome, bittersweet chocolate chips
1 cup heavy cream
3 tbsp. strong coffee (prepared, not grounds)
1/2 tsp. real vanilla extract
1/4 cup cocoa powder, for dusting

1. Pour the chocolate chips into a heat-resistant mixing bowl.
2. Heat the cream in a small saucepan. Bring it just to a boil. Turn off the heat and let the cream sit for 20-30 seconds. Pour the cream through a mesh strainer over the chocolate chips. Stir the mixture slowly until the chocolate is completely melted. Stir in the coffee and vanilla.
3. Refrigerate the chocolate mixture until very firm (about 2 hours).
4. Pour cocoa powder into a shallow bowl. Using a melon-baller or your bare hands, roll the cold chocolate into 1-inch balls, then dip and roll in cocoa powder until fully coated.

You can store them in the fridge for a few weeks but let them come to room temperature before serving if you can wait that long. I usually can't. 

Makes about 60 truffles
If you don't mind a few chocolate-coated children and countertops, this is a perfect recipe to have the kiddos assist. Little hands are just right for rolling balls, just watch the errant tongues that can't seem to resist licking fingers here and there.

Roo is a dark chocolate kind of guy and while the cocoa powder proved a little bitter for the girls (we'll roll some in confectioner's sugar next time), he loved these! So did his mother and father. They're so easy and deep and rich and chocolatey that we'll be trying out several more variations in the coming weeks. So, while these were not a part of our Christmases past, they will definitely be part of our Christmases future. Here's to new traditions!

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