Earlier this week I had the pleasure of hosting a lunch for my dear friend Susan, who just happens to be a chocolatier! She travels between Chicago, Seattle, and London (can you believe it!) soaking up everything to do with the art of chocolate. I asked her to help me make some special handmade chocolates for my valentine Ryan, since this year we want our gifts to be hand-made for one another.
I searched for the perfect, romantic, and sweetest molds I could find. I finally chose the Eiffel Tower and a simple heart. Two iconic shapes that instantly make anything and everything seem more romantic! I also wanted to dip some dried fruit, like apricots and candied orange, ginger and lemon peel into a variety of chocolates. In the end we made over four pounds of various chocolate delights! Once Susan and I got started it was addictive (and not just because we were eating every other little creation). I had Parisian-themed music by Pink Martini (a favorite of mine for dinner parties) playing in the background, we sipped lavender tea with cream, and shared stories of our individual sources of inspiration.
The day ended with me walking with Susan to the train station while it was snowing (those amazingly huge snowflakes) like a fabulous scene in a movie! Regardless of how perfectly (or not) my chocolates turned out, it was the experience and memories that made so special!
Though I love to use chocolate in my cooking, and have perfected a sinfully (or perhaps angelically) decadent Honey Lavender Truffle (page 181 in Entertaining with Love), there are advanced techniques with chocolate that I have found to be daunting. Susan helped me to navigate some of those techniques, as well as provided reassuring advice along the way. The experience was both fun an eye-opening. There was no reason to be put off by my perception of chocolate being difficult to work with. Lesson learned is that there is always something to learn, but you will never learn it unless you try! Practice makes perfect (or at least increasingly edible), and you should have fun in the process!