Chocolate Porter Truffles

“Filled with mingled cream and amber I will drain that glass again. Such hilarious visions clamber through the chambers of my brain — quaintest thoughts — queerest fancies come to life and fade away, Who cares how time advances? I am drinking ale today.” ~ Edgar Allan Poe,  American writer  (1809 – 1849)

Rather than do battle for the last bottle of Boulder Beer’s Shake Chocolate Porter, we decided to turn it into dessert.  Like it isn’t already dessert in a bottle!  My first intent was to use it in a ganache topping for cookies, but the cookies were less than spectacular so we turned the ganache into something totally decadent that didn’t require baking. The cook got to drink the rest of the bottle while waiting for the ganache to harden. <insert evil sounding laugh>

Truffles purchased from the candy shop always have dairy cream in the them (at least, I haven’t found any that don’t), which means they are off-limits for me.  But truffles made with beer, now there’s a concept that ‘clambers through the chambers of my brain’!

These truffles are not kid stuff – the porter has a cocoa-coffee-vanilla flavor that makes for a bitter-sweet, rich truffle, dark as a raven.  Also, some of your guests might need to be aware that the alcohol in the beer does not burn off.

 

Chocolate Porter Truffles

Chocolate Porter Truffles

Makes about 20 truffles
Time:  20 minutes active + at least 2 hours chilling

Ingredients:
3 ounces Chocolate Porter or Chocolate Stout
1 cup of semi-sweet chocolate chips (read label to avoid dairy)
40 dried tart cherries (optional, but highly recommended)

Optional coatings:
Almonds and/or almond meal
Cocoa
Powdered sugar
Melted chocolate chips
Colored sprinkles

In a heat-safe bowl set over a small pot boiling water (or a double-boiler, if you have one), warm the beer until it is room temperature, then pour in the chocolate chips.  Stir gently until the chips are melted and the mixture is smooth.  Remove the bowl from the pot and set in the refrigerator (dry the outside bottom first!) to cool.  This ganache mixture will thicken considerably on chilling, until it becomes the consistency of school paste – overnight is fine, but it could be ready in a couple of hours.

Spoon up bite-size portions of the ganache and roll them into balls.  If you want, put two dried tart cherries in the centers as you shape the balls. Then, gently roll in one of the optional coatings in order to keep them from getting people’s fingers messy when eating.  If you cover the ganache in the melted chocolate chips, you’ll need to apply the sprinkles or chopped nuts, then put them in the refrigerator to harden.  Store in the refrigerator, covered, until ready to serve.

Just double, triple, quadruple the recipe as needed for your party. That is, if you decide to share…

“And my soul from out that shadow that lies floating on the floor shall be lifted – nevermore!” (from The Raven, by Edgar Allan Poe)

 

 

Colcannon for Halloween

“…Did you ever make a hole on top
to hold the meltin’ flake
Or the creamy flavoured butter
that our mother’s used to make.” ~ Colcannon song by Mary Black

Halloween has deep roots and it is a shame that so few of us know of the stories behind it when the day inspires so much fun. Samhain, a Gaelic festival that begins at sunset on October 31st, has probably the strongest connection to the holiday we celebrate with pumpkins, costumes, sweets, and spooky tales.

Thus it goes that Halloween has strong Irish roots. To be properly celebrated, might we not join the Irish, then, in one of their traditional Halloween dishes? Of course, you know we’re going to mess with it just a little…

Colcannon is generally made with white potatoes and cabbage or kale. To make it a little healthier and give it a more autumnal appearance, we made it with sweet potatoes and the effect was just plain fun. Using sweet potatoes also requires less fat in the preparation.

Colcannon

Halloween Colcannon

Time: 20 minutes

For each person:
1 medium sweet potato
¼ cup chopped onion
2 teaspoons olive oil
Generous handful of shredded kale leaves (not stems)
¼ cup almond milk
Coarsely ground black pepper, to taste
1 teaspoon Earth Balance buttery spread (optional)

Scrub the sweet potato and poke it with a fork or knife. Begin cooking in the microwave oven according to manufacturer’s directions for potatoes – generally about 7 minutes at full power.

Meanwhile, begin sautéing the onion and kale in olive oil over medium heat. You want to soften the vegetables, but not brown them.

When the potato has cooked until it is soft, allow to cool for 5 minutes so that it can be safely handled, then slip off the skin if you wish. Coarsely chop, and add to the pot with the softened onion and kale. Mash all together, adding the almond milk and pepper.

To serve, mound on the plate and create a dent in the top. Add a pat of buttery spread if you wish to eat it as the Irish, do – allowing the spread to melt for dipping each bite. How’s that for a great trick?  And we’re pretty sure it would work well for Thanksgiving, too!

Remembering Summer

“February, when the days of winter seem endless and no amount of wistful recollecting can bring back any air of summer.” ~ Shirley Hardie Jackson, American writer (1916 – 1965)

Most of a cucumber was the last vegetable sitting in the refrigerator bin and beginning to look a bit rumpled. Lest it need to be thrown away (aaaagh!), it was time to use it immediately.

Fortunately, the pot of fresh mint growing in the sunny corner of the living room was also calling to me, wondering at its neglect, so that I was able to put the two thoughts together and remember some summer flavors. July.

Is it wrong to visit July in February?

The only thing wrong with this picture is that with the cucumber suffering from depression, the peel was unfit for consumption. That’s ok, though, because in cucumbers, the peel really doesn’t add significant nutrition, even though it is easier and prettier to leave it on.

Just before serving, we also happened to remember a cup of leftover quinoa, which we often use as a quick-cooking, high protein replacement for rice or oatmeal. Into the bowl it went along with the last bit of Poppyseed Dressing. It gave the dish enough substance to make it more like a lunch dish than a side dish.

Cucumber Mint Salad

Serves 4 as a side dish, 2 as an entrée
Time: 5 minutes + optional time to cook and cool quinoa

½ cup chopped cucumber
½ cup chopped fresh mint leaves
1 cup cooked, cooled quinoa (optional)
¼ cup Poppyseed Dressing (see below) or other sweet dressing

Toss ingredients together. Serve immediately.

Poppyseed Dressing

1/4 cup sugar (Fair Trade, vegan, of course)
2 tablespoons sesame seeds
1 tablespoon poppy seeds
½ teaspoon onion powder
¼ teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
½ cup salad oil
1/4 cup cider vinegar

The weather service is predicting snow for Wednesday. That’s ok. Today, the sun is shining just the same as it does in July. Eat your veggies and dream.