Posted by Bonita
Thursday was that time of year again, when we were surrounded by all things red and white, stuffed toys, hearts, sappy music, even sappier greeting cards, cheap chocolates, expensive chocolates, overpriced roses, PDAs that made you go awwww, PDAs that made you wish you didn't witness, and the flying toddler wearing what appears to be a fancier version of a diaper, more commonly known as Cupid. Valentine's Day is probably the most commercially-driven, consumerist "holidays" following Christmas. I mean, can't you just picture the tagline: "Valentine's Day...brought to you by Hallmark." And wouldn't it make things twice as meaningful if you got flowers on any other day but Valentine's Day, the day when it is expected, thanks to our capitalist society, to give his woman flowers? Some may call me cynical and merely bitter about love (I'm not). I'd prefer it as having far too much of a university education that it's jaded my whole perception on light (or rather, has it enlightened me to my previously jaded life? Hmmm.....).
Despite my views on Valentine's Day, I am a hypocrite by jumping on the bandwagon. I can resist the flowers, the chocolates and the cuddly toys, but how can I resist adorable heart-shaped cookie cutters? They say actions speak louder than words, but it was a few words I overheard the other day that really spoke true to my gift to my lovely friends, "The way to my heart is through my stomach." Amen to that!
If you haven't already figured it out by now (and if you really haven't, please refer back to the first paragraph), I'm not a hugely materialistic girl. Yeah, I like things like most people, but if I want something, I usually get it for myself. I don't like basing my relationships with other people on material objects, which is why when I give gifts, I often give something that has some meaning attached to it, or something that I'm truly giving from my heart to theirs. Food is my passion, and I cook with my heart, so what would make a more fitting gift than something that I made myself in the kitchen?
Chocolate is a staple around Valentine's Day, and so I stuck to that general theme. I decided to finally try making truffles. I've always wanted to make them but just never got around to making them; however, this year's Valentine's Day gave me the perfect excuse to venture into unknown territory. I made two kinds of truffles: Pistachio Nut & Vanilla Bean and Orange & Grand Marnier. Unfortunately, all I had was extra-dark Lindt chocolate around the house (85%), which had me a bit worried at first, but my parents seemed to enjoy it since they're not big fans of overly-sweet chocolate. The vanilla flavour wasn't very pronounce, and I think that had to do with the overpowering dark chocolate. Next time, I would also dip the truffles in some melted chocolate before rolling them in the chopped pistachios; I meant to do that this time around too, but my laziness (and lack of time) got the better of me. The Orange & Grand Marnier truffles were a treat though; the orange flavour from the zest really stood out and worked really well with the dark bitterness of the chocolate. It was certainly a huge hit with a lot of my friends as well.
The other treat I made were Chocolate Ganache Heart Cookies (inspired by the recipe found here), which were extremely easy to make. The dough came together fabulously; sometimes rolled dough can be tricky if it's too dry or too wet, but this dough was absolutely perfect and was a breeze to roll and stamp out the heart shapes. I sandwiched some dark chocolate ganache between the cookies, and drizzled some white chocolate on top. These had a lovely, buttery, melt-in-your mouth texture with an intense chocolate flavour that wasn't too sweet. If this didn't win its way into people's hearts, I don't know what will...