Chocolate truffles rolled in cocoa powder and smoked sea salt, and coconut and cardamom
There are two aspects of living overseas that I find the toughest. The first is being far away from friends and family. That distance is even more evident during the holidays, when we would otherwise be hunkering down to celebrate with our loved ones. The other (besides my complete inability to find a decent deli sandwich) is the transient nature of the friendships we make while overseas. It seems like we're always either getting to know new people, which is great, or having to say goodbye to friends who are moving on to somewhere else, which is obviously not so great.
Spritz cookies shaped by a cookie gun
This holiday season, we're extra excited not to have to experience the lonely reach of America from afar. Instead, the celebration is coming our way. My in-laws, sisters, brother-in-law and cousins will be here in a few weeks to help us celebrate a very humid, tropical Christmas and New Year's. I'm really excited to see everyone, and being that it's the Gravy Baby's first Christmas, the hubby and I are planning on going all out and buying a tree, unlike the sad little palm tree I decorated with a lone Elmo ornament last year (how we ended up with an Elmo ornament, of all things, I'll never be quite sure).
For a few years now, my sisters and I have made chocolate truffles to give away as gifts. Naturally, we pack away a good dozen just trying to make them, and last year I lovingly squirreled away a pound and a half of Belgian chocolate in hopes that I'd have time to make them myself. Well, due to unforeseen travel, my Christmas plans were a little scattered, and so the chocolate sat in our freezer.
This past week, my cooking explorer girlfriends came over to my house, and finally I had an occasion to break out the chocolate. Well, any time ladies come over to gab is an occasion to break out the chocolate, but on this particularly merry day, we gathered together to roll a few dozen of these and to test my friend Rachael's new cookie gun. Any time the words cookie and gun are used in a sentence, you can bet I'm intrigued, and so when she showed us how she could squirt out little delicate Christmas trees and poinsettias, we were naturally impressed.
As for the truffles, I've made these enough now that I like to vary things a bit. We doubled this recipe so that we'd have enough to share, and we made a few additional tweaks that we were very pleased with. We added smoked sea salt to the cocoa powder coating, which made for a delightful sweet-savory-slightly-bitter bite. We also didn't have ancho or chipotle powder on hand, so we used 1 teaspoon of cayenne to 2 teaspoons of chili powder to give the truffles rolled in that spice combination a lovely warm, sweet kick. Lastly, I separated out about a third of the ganache and added 2 ounces of Amaretto liqueur. The Amaretto, as it turns out, adds a wonderfully cooling, slightly tart flavor to the ganache that is highly addictive (besides, you know, the whole alcohol content thing). I'd highly recommend it.
The end of our little cooking jam made me a little sad, because, as I mentioned at the beginning of this post, I feel like living the life of an expat means you're always having to say goodbye to someone, too. An activity I'd normally have done with my family became an activity I did with my makeshift family here in Kuala Lumpur, and one of my cooking buddies is leaving us to move on to her next adventure. I'm happy for her and her husband, but sad at the same time.
I mean, who else will I be able to cure pork with in a Muslim country?
For the recipe we used to make our chocolate truffles, click here.
For a spritz cookie recipe, click here.
To buy your own cookie gun, click here.