Truffes au Chocolat – Chocolate Truffles




I know what you’re thinking…chocolate truffles for Christmas – how truly innovative. And yes, you’ve seen them all before. But scroll down and take a gander at them. Aren’t they a sight to behold? Silky. Creamy. Luscious. Are we still talking about chocolate? Yes. Right.

Though I’m no choco-holic, this week has been a real tug o’ war for me lately. Should I make these, these, or, oh la la, these. Let me start by saying that I’m all for bucking traditional flavors when it comes to chocolate — hot chiles with chocolate (fabulous); smoked salt with chocolate (why didn’t I think of that before?); tea-infused chocolate (caffeine+more caffeine = oh joy!); and even bacon with chocolate (piggy, chocolate-y — mmmm).

In the end, I decided to buck my inclination to buck traditional flavors and made a classic truffle recipe. There’s not too much of a recipe as it is a ganache made from equal parts cream and dark chocolate, which is allowed to chill for a couple of hours before it is rolled into little truffles. With so few ingredients, I reached for some of the good stuff — Callebaut chocolate and Calder Dairy’s heavy cream, one of the loveliest, richest creams this locavore’s tasted in a long time.

If you’ve never made truffles, you can click on the video link in this article to see Mark Bittman of the NY Times demonstrate the minimal (pardon me) effort involved in making truffles. Now, do I really need to tell you how these turned out? Chocolate plus Cream. Cream plus Chocolate. Come ON.


  • 500g Callebaut dark chocolate, finely chopped
  • 500 ml heavy cream


  • In a medium to large saucepan, heat the cream until it begins to steam. Remove pan from heat and add chocolate to the cream. Stir until the chocolate is melted and fully combined with the cream. Allow to cool before placing in the fridge to cool for about 2 hours.
  • Once chilled, you can use a small melon baller or a small spoon to scoop out the ganache and quickly roll it into a ball. You can then roll the truffle in cocoa, nuts, powdered sugar, etc.




My conformist turns notwithstanding, I opted to make another batch of truffles, this time adding a little booze. That always helps things, you know…something my mother taught me. Okay, really, my aunt taught me that.

Rose‘s trio of truffles sure did thrill me, particularly since they use butter instead of cream. They turned out a bit more dense than the cream ganache above yet smooth and every bit delicious. It was also great to use the Cointreau that I had bought during a visit to the original distillery, located on the outskirts of Angers, France. These truffles give those liquor-filled chocolates you find at the market a run for their money. They’ve got just enough orange liqueur and orange zest to brighten the cocoa flavors of the chocolate.






recipe adapted from 64sqftkitchen 
  • 170g (~6oz) chocolate
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 75 g butter (~1/3 stick, unsalted butter) softened
  • 1 ½ tsp Cointreau
  • Zest of 1 orange


  • To make the basic mixture, melt the chocolate in double boiler until the chocolate is melted and lukewarm. Remove from the simmering water and add the egg yolks. Stir with a whisk for a few seconds. It will probably tighten and lose its shine.
  • Add the butter in small pieces and whisk well. The mixture may become smooth or it may remain somewhat separated. Do not worry about it. Add the orange zest and Cointreau and whisk.
  • At this point the mixture should become smooth. If it doesn’t, add 1 tsp of hot water to each bowl and whisk until it does. It should not require more than 1 tbsp of water at most. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 2 hours.
  • Get the truffles out of the fridge at least 15 minutes before starting shaping them; this way it will be easier to shape them. With a small spoon, scoop out the chocolate and, with the palms of your hands, form into little balls the size of extra-large olives or smaller.
  • They will keep in the refrigerator for a couple of weeks. Serve at room temperature.




Bon appétit!


Think Local First





Join me in helping Ann Arbor, Michigan’s Think Local First in their mission to support and cultivate locally-owned, independent businesses that are committed to making our community a healthier and more vibrant place to live.

You can pledge to spend 100%, 80%, or as much as you can at locally owned independent businesses this season. As a thank you to those taking the pledge, 10 people will be randomly selected to win gift certificates from a variety of great places like Cafe Luwak, Corner Brewery, Morgan & York, and Kerrytown Market & Shops.

Click HERE to take the BUY LOCAL CHALLENGE, or if you are in Ypsilanti, click HERE to take the YPSI BUY LOCAL CHALLENGE.

Below are a few of the events going on around town:

December 7th, All Evening

Moonlight Madness (Kerrytown, Main St., and State Street, Ann Arbor). Stores open late (most until midnight) with bargains galore. Shop with Santa. Many businesses offer specials during Moonlight Madness only. Some include:

  • 16 Hands Gallery: 20% off storewide 10am until 11pm
  • The Peaceable Kingdom: select items on sale
  • Suwanee Springs: 15% – 50% off storewide all day
  • Collected Works: specials throughout the store
  • Downtown Home and Garden: While Downtown Home & Garden ALWAYS matches boxstore and internet prices on All-Clad and LeCreuset cookware items, they’ll be offering 20% off during Midnight Madness.

December 7th, 6 – 8 pm

Slow Food Huron Valley Holiday Gathering: Finger-food potluck and Michigan holiday wine tasting –Location: 310 S. Ashley (Hathaway’s Hideaway). Bring an hors d’oeuvre/finger food to share (with the recipe and your tableware) We’ll exchange ideas for local (food) gifts, ways to celebrate and support our local economy and food system and give gifts with lower environmental impact. Cost: $5 ($10 non-member) for food and good cheer; + $10 for wine tasting. RSVP or questions to Kim at

December 8th, 10am – 2pm

Downtown Home and Garden: Party for the Real Santa – Santa will be accepting wish lists and talking to children. Children get a Christmas orange. Adults get eggnog and roasted chestnuts.

You can also find more information about these and other local events/happenings HERE.

Where we spend our money can have a significant effect on the sustainability of our surroundings. Supporting local businesses will ensure that the people and places that make our cities and towns unique can survive and continue to operate. So wherever you live, I encourage you to increase your connection with your community and neighbors. This can be as simple as buying your fruit from a vendor who sells local produce, getting your haircut at an independently-owned barber, or re-filling your prescription at your neighborhood pharmacy. It’s an investment in a healthy, happy future.







On the last day of their visit here in Michigan, we took my parents to a local orchard run by the Erwin family in South Lyon. Erwin Orchards is a third-generation family farm located about 16 miles north of Ann Arbor with approximately 200 acres of fruit, including apples, raspberries, cherries and pumpkins. We tried some of their fresh-pressed, unpasteurized cider and we could see why it won the award for Best Apple Cider from the Michigan Horticultural Society four years in a row. And, according to their website, they are an environmentally friendly orchard, practicing Integrated Pest Management.

We arrived at the orchard less than two hours before closing time. Our friend John met up with us and we approached the window to purchase our 1/2 bushel bag to pick our own apples. I was looking forward to having my parents ride in the big wagon to the picking site. Sure, you may find it somewhat kitschy, but I think it’s fun nevertheless. Moreover, cider mills, wagons and tractors are not at all mundane to city dwellers like my parents and me.




Alas, at this point in the season, the trees that still had fruit were within walking distance from the entrance; there was no need to take the wagon. Without me asking, an orchard employee, Dave, offered to drive us in the wagon anyway. Before taking us to the apple picking trees, he drove us all around the entire orchard first. It was like a private tour of their scenic orchard! I’m pleased to include his photo above; his gentle smile reminding me of our happy outing.

With Thanksgiving and Christmas soon approaching, there is a plethora of apple pie and apple tart recipes saturating our magazine, book and online media. Don’t you love that word – plethora? If you say it with a lisp, it’s even more fun – plethhhhhora.

Anyhow, it seems most recipes come with lofty guarantees – that it’s the best apple-baked-thing-you’ll-ever-taste; that it has a flaky, buttery crust that is both easy and practically effortless to make (ha!); and that upon eating it, you’ll find you’ve actually gone to pie heaven.

I can’t promise you this recipe for Normandy Apple Tart will result in any sort of earth-shaking, religious experience. But you can bet your Euro that it is delicious in a comforting, warm-blanket-and-toasty fireplace-way with its crumbly pâte sablée crust, topped with a rosy, homemade applesauce and buttery slices of Golden Delicious apples. As a bonus, I added some crème de marrons (chestnut cream) to the applesauce that my good friend Mrs. Ellen G. gifted to me. I’ve had this in my cupboard for a while now and I’m happy to have found a great way to use it. It added a nutty, sweet taste to the slightly tart applesauce.

The recipe I used comes from Dorie Greenspan’s latest book, Baking: From My Home to Yours. In France, these tarts are often made with Reinette or Boskoop apples, to which ground almonds or custard may be added. In her variation, Ms. Greenspan suggests making the tart with common American varieties like Golden Delcious, Cortland or Empire. She also suggests making the pâte sablée in a food processor. I prefer to use my good ol’ pastry cutter to prepare the crust. It takes me just as long to clean the food processor afterwards than to simply use the pastry cutter and blend the dough with my own hands. Do what you prefer.

As for the homemade applesauce, it’s not too much work as long as you have a good food mill. You can toss the cooked, quartered apples into the mill and it will purée the apples, while it also separates the peel and pits. If you don’t use a food mill, you’ll need to peel and core the apples before cooking them down to form an applesauce.



adapted from Baking: From My Home to Yours






  • 2 lbs. apples (in this case, Red and Golden Delicious)
  • 1/3 cup of water + more, if necessary
  • 1 small lump of rock sugar or 1 tsp. raw sugar
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • crème de marrons


  • Cut and quarter the apples. Place them in a 2-3 qt. heavy-bottomed saucepan. Add the water, sugar and salt. Cover with a lid.
  • Cook over med-low heat, stirring from time to time, for approximately 20-25 minutes. Apples should be soft enough to be mashed with a spoon.
  • Pass the apples through the food mill, into a bowl.
  • Add about 2 Tbl. of crème de marrons and stir to combine. Set aside to cool slightly.






  • 1 1/2 cups of all purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 9 Tbl. very cold, (or frozen) unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 9-inch tart pan


  • In a mixing bowl (preferably glass, ceramic or metal), thoroughly combine the flour, sugar and salt.
  • Using a pastry cutter, blend the butter pieces with the flour mixture. Blend until you get pea-sized bits.
  • Add the egg yolk and blend with a spoon or your hands until just combined, being careful not to overwork the dough.
  • Reserve a small piece of dough for patching up the tart crust, if needed.
  • Pour the dough onto the tart pan and press the dough into the pan and up the sides. (The crumbly nature of this dough makes it difficult to roll, but you can try if you like).
  • Freeze the crust for at least 30 minutes. Preheat the oven to 375F.
  • Butter the shiny side of a piece of aluminum foil and fit the foil, butter side down, tightly against the crust.
  • Place the tart pan on a baking sheet and partially bake the crust (on the center rack) for about 20-25 minutes. Remove the foil and patch the crust with the reserved dough, if necessary.
  • Transfer the tart pan onto a cooling rack.






  • 2 medium apples (preferably Golden Delicious)
  • homemade applesauce [see above recipe]
  • 1 large egg, beaten with 1/2 tsp. water, for egg wash
  • 1/4 cup of apple jelly + 1 tsp. water, for the glaze (optional)


  • Preheat the oven to 375F.
  • Peel the apples. Quarter them and remove the cores.
  • Cut thin slices from each of the quarters (about 7 slices).
  • Next, top the cooled tart crust with the applesauce and spread out in an even layer.
  • Top the applesauce with the apple slices – you can use whatever configuration fancies you. Perhaps a rosette pattern?
  • Brush the apples with the egg wash and bake for approx. 45-50 minutes. The apples should be golden, their edges slightly browned and soft enough to be pierced easily with a tip of a knife.
  • Transfer to a cooling rack.
  • Heat the apple jelly and water in a small sauce pan until liquefied. Using a pastry brush, brush the top of the tart with the glaze.
  • Serve the tart warm or at room temperature.




Bon appétit!


To Market…To Market… We Go


Some say things aren’t looking good for Ann Arbor. Pfizer, its largest employer and taxpayer, is leaving. The local auto industry is down-spiraling. Add to that the harsh climate and weather, and well, you get the picture. Luckily, we still have the farmer’s market. A visit here reminds me that amid the fiscal woes of our area, life goes on, and in brilliant color too.



This time of the year is always fun. While it’s officially fall, we can still indulge in summer’s last flourish with sugar-sweet tomatoes, crispy bell peppers and juicy raspberries. One of my favorite stalls is run by the Merkel family. They’re the only vendor who carry Asian produce, like bitter melon, japanese eggplant and bok choy, to name a few. There’s also the vendor I like who carries special varieties like chioggia beets and french fingerling potatoes.




Wherever you are, I hope you’ll get yourself to a local farmer’s market soon.

And, if you want to learn more about buying from and supporting local farmers, check out these sites:

Eat Well Guide

Sustainable Table

Chez Panisse Foundation