by Stephanie Zonis
Hi! My name is Stephanie Zonis, and welcome to the December, 1999 (Holiday) edition of "I Love Chocolate." Happy Holidays and Happy New Year to all of my readers; I'll wish you a Happy New Millennium when it's coming round (next year). Once again the year has flown, and some thanks are in order. Thank you to my bosses, Kate and Thomas, who've given me another twelve months of the most fun job I can imagine. Thanks to my parents for all of their love and support, and to my sisters for the same. Thanks to my medieval household for their incredible ability to scarf down almost anything I bring them. And, of course, thank you, my readers; there wouldn't be a column at all if you weren't here.
Yes, I know; the holidays are here again, and you're busier than ever. Please snatch a little time for yourself and your family, and get into the kitchen this month. It doesn't matter whether you're making a simple salad dressing or a complicated pastry; a pasta dish is as good as a Beef Wellington. What matters is that you're taking the time to prepare real food, not something from a mix or a package. People are becoming culinarily illiterate, and that's something none of us should just stand by and watch. Being able to cook is a skill you can take through your entire life, and it will always stand you in good stead. If you have children, get them involved! They can decorate holiday cookies or punch down bread dough or stir a sauce. Cooking and baking are great creative outlets, if your job isn't all that could be desired in that vein, and it's great fun to be able to eat your creations. and if you watch your diet for any reason, as so many of us do, it's a lot easier on you when you know exactly what went into a dish—if you made it yourself, there'll be no doubt. Cook or bake something today!
Want to make your New Year's Eve party extra-special this year? Consider having an All-Chocolate Dessert Buffet. You'll want to choose desserts that can be made well ahead and/or frozen, thus requiring little or no last-minute preparation (except, perhaps, decoration). Remember to serve small portions of the desserts; as this is a buffet, expect people to try most, if not all, of what you make. You should be able to get twice as many servings out of each dessert as you normally would. Be prepared with plenty of extra plates, napkins, and utensils. I would recommend serving a good champagne here, as I think it would make the buffet all the more special. Other necessities include coffee (most people can't drink champagne all night!) and pitchers of cold water. It's nice to serve a couple of good cheeses with some fruit and crackers, too, just as an occasional change of pace (even I don't live by chocolate alone). How many desserts to make? If you're inviting 12 people, between 6 and 8 different desserts should be fine. The desserts needn't all be huge or ornate (truffles or a special kind of cookie would be ideal items), though you'll need at least one large, showy creation. This buffet can be a dress-up or dress-down affair, just as you please. As you'll likely have some leftovers, send some home with your guests to ensure a sweet new year!
Are you finished with your holiday shopping? of course not! But if someone on your list loves great chocolate truffles, your shopping just got easier. December's Chocolate Find, XOX Truffles, Inc., offers 21 varieties of handmade truffles that are everything a truffle should be. Forget about those giant, overdecorated monsters sold in some places; these are petite, irregularly-shaped, unassuming jewels of flavor and richness. The thin chocolate shell surrounds a dense, rich filling that will leave you hungry for more...go ahead, they're small! Truffles are offered dusted with cocoa powder, white chocolate-coated, coffee crunch-coated, hazelnut-coated, and coconut-coated, in such intriguing flavors as Creme de Framboise, French Roast, and Black & White. There are truffles both with and without liqueur, and something I've never seen before--vegan truffles, made with soy milk and dark chocolate, for those who can't or won't eat dairy products.
Jean-Marc and Casimira Gorce package their truffles creatively, using mugs, trays, goblets, and more. A recent order arrived in a pretty gold box with a nice bow--and the truffles were in perfect condition. Casimira, who had no knowledge of the chocolate columns I write at the time, called on the next business day to make sure the truffles had gotten to me in good shape, which impressed me very much. XOX Truffles, Inc. has a shop at 754 Columbus Avenue in San Francisco, CA 94133, or you can call them at (415) 421-4814 or fax them at (415) 826-4186. Their website is at www.xoxtruffles.com; please note that, as of this writing, the website had not been updated to include the vegan truffles. XOX Truffles, Inc. is a great way to give special chocolates to a special someone in your life.
I Love Chocolate wants YOU!!! Do you have a comment, question, or suggestion? How about a recent chocolate "find" you'd like to share? You can contact me at: sdziadwm@[email-address-removed]; I'd like your input on this column. Thanks!
'Til next edition,
Yours in chocolate,
Copyright © 1999 Francesca Chocolate Productions. All Rights Reserved.
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This page created December 1999
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