So, as you know, we are generally poor… or perhaps we’re just still suffering PTSD from when we were poor and so we continue to behave as though our vast fortunes might be taken away at any moment. Which means that we hold the true belief that the best gifts come from the heart, or are made by hand, or something. (We’ll leave the Gay Guru and the PrissyBitch out of this since they’d never bother reading a story about DIY anyway.) We thought we’d share some of our favorite holiday projects du jour with you, and hope that no one who will be receiving one of these will read this.
Asian Persuasion’s Truffle’s
Ever since I read an article about truffles in a Honolulu paper (while sitting on the beach looking out at a vast, crystal turquoise ocean…so there goes my “I’m poor” argument) complete with an easy recipe, I’ve been obsessed with making truffles. The chocolate kind, not the ones involving pigs. The article was about the owner of Madre Chocolate in Honolulu, and the amazing things she does with truffles. We left the island and I forgot to take the article with me. I was so upset, and couldn’t find it online, so I finally emailed the store and they were kind enough to send it to me. I can’t wait to try this recipe tonight:
- 12 ounces of chocolate, 60-70% dark chocolate
- 10 ounces of heavy cream
- cocoa powder (you can use chopped nuts, but I’m allergic, so I won’t be)
Melt the chocolate in the microwave at 50% power for 3 minutes, at 1 minute increments. (Don’t heat it above 120 degrees). Scald the cream in a pot (110-120 degrees) but don’t boil it. Pour the cream over the chocolate and cover with plastic wrap, so it’s directly touching the ganache, pressing out air bubbles. Chill in the fridge for 4 hours or overnight. Use a teaspoon to scoop out the ganache and roll into a ball (wearing surgical gloves help keep it from melting on your body heat). If the mixture gets too soft, stick it in the fridge until it firms up. Roll in the cocoa powder or nuts. Place finished truffles on parchment paper and keep them in the fridge for up to two weeks.
I want to try infusing the cream with Earl Grey tea, or peppermint. I also want to try adding some whiskey, because booze and chocolate just go well together. The plan is to package them up nicely and give them as presents. If I don’t eat them all.
I resisted the peer-pressure to join Pinterest for many months, but I finally caved in earlier this Fall. I’ve found that it has one real use: as a place to collect crafty ideas for DIY gifts. The one I’ve been most enthused by this holiday season is the terrarium. You know, one of those little glass bowls filled with tiny little plants…
There are two major challenges to making a Christmas terrarium in Connecticut: finding succulents in December, and finding containers cheap enough to make this an inexpensive gift option. I turned to Amazon to find the plants. I headed out to Goodwill to find the containers. I ended up with a couple of truffle dishes (the glass kind, not the Asian Persuasion’s kind) a pretty pot I’m half-thinking about keeping for myself…and some other container I can’t recall at this moment.
Beyond those two things all you really need are cactus mix soil, and some pebbles — and maybe whatever decorative elements you might like, like little dinosaurs or elves. It’s pretty self-explanatory after that. You put a thin layer of pebbles on the bottom for drainage, then you put in some soil and plant your plants. You can then put some more pebbles on top if you’d like…or sand…or diamonds…whatever.
The Asian’s terrariums were classy centerpieces, mine are more like little stories in a bowl thanks to the ridiculous accessories I bought at Michael’s. I can’t talk about them too much, because it would ruin Christmas presents.