Archives for posts with tag: dark chocolate
Truffles with nuts and chocolate dusting in de...

truffle magic!

The pinnacle of the dark, dreary days of winter is a purgatory that rests between Christmastime and Spring… February. Installed into February is a day that is supposed to be a celebration of “Love”. Many lament the commercialisation of Valentine‘s Day, and resent the high expectations and sadness that come with so many of our holidays.

Traditional Valentine’s expectations dictate that one should enjoy chocolates, give expensive gifts, and be in love. Well, let’s take some of the good from those traditions and embrace them! Even if you are single, you deserve some chocolate. Actually, you deserve more chocolate. Feeling a bit bloated after a winter’s eating? This is an opportunity to sharpen your skills in making HEALTHY treats. Herbal-infused organic chocolate truffles, anyone? Or perhaps a cup of Healthy Hot Chocolate? True love. Love is in a good cup of tea, a soothing bath that invigorates the spirit, or a beautiful hand-made gift box to hold treasures.

The brains behind the Fleurbain concept, Tammy Schmidt, Clinical Herbal Therapist and Natasha Henderson, visual artist and arts instructor, are offering an Herbal Creativity Spa Weekend workshop in February. There is an option to take one or both days during the Herbal Creativity Spa Weekend, on Friday the 11th from 7 to 10pm and Saturday the 12th from 1 to 4pm.

Friday night, we will enjoy a relaxing glass of wine (or herbal tea) with some dessert treats and fine cheese. Participants will learn how to make an herbal Love Potion. The Love Potion is a special euphoric herb that is distilled in a vodka base. Everyone will get to take home a sample of this to try themselves! Tub Teas are all the rage, and for good reason. What could be better than infusing your entire body in an organic, herbal bath that is designed to soothe the body, mind, and spirit? Participants will learn some of the properties of the herbs used in this special Valentine’s Tea Bath, and take home a sample. Finally, we will make a Boudoir Gift Box, a gift box made from scratch that will be decorated with fine fabrics, papers, lace, and beads. It will be suitable as a gift box for chocolates, jewellery, fine treasures… and can be re-used to hold your favourite special things.

Saturday afternoon starts off with a healthy, delicious beginning. Participants will learn how to make Healthy Hot Chocolate (yes, this version is truly healthy), and enjoy a cup. While sipping our treat, we will make organic chocolate truffles, which will be flavoured with high quality, organic herbs for unique flavours. These are perfect to tuck into the Boudoir Boxes made the previous evening. Then we will think about the physical and mental well-being that a good bath brings, and make a felted soap loofah for our next bath. These soaps combine sheep’s wool with a high-quality Ginseng or Evening Primrose soap to be an exfoliating and moisturising addition to your bath. Finally, we will create a batch of Love Tea to take home and enjoy.

All courses use the finest quality, pure and organic ingredients. Take one afternoon or evening for $75, or treat yourself (or a friend!) to both sessions for $135. Location of workshops will be in a Montreal artist’s studio, converted to a Valentine’s Factory for our workshops. Please email fleurbain(at)gmail.com for information and registration.

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New Year's Eve fireworks in Paris

Happy New Year!

Choco-Almo-Date Balls (Or Choco-Almond Balls, CABs, their nick-name), are wonderful. Delicious, easy and fast to make, and somewhat healthy too! Over the holiday season I kept a bowl of the gooey-mix in the fridge, as well as a small saucepan of the melted chocolate ready-to-go. I made some last night, so that my New Year’s Eve guests could enjoy the last of them. Any leftover chocolate drizzle? Well, someone is bringing a mystery dessert, so we’ll see if melted chocolate would work with it, I’ve also got some whipped cream… perhaps a New Year’s Sundae on Sunday is in order on the second day of the new year.

You might recall that I’d originally taken my mother’s old Family Favorite recipe and tinkered with it. Yes, I hate to say it, but these are better. Next year my family will receive some in the mail in advance of Christmas. Fortunately, they are always open to trying new foods, and will eat them even though my little CABs break with tradition.

My goal for next year’s “baking” is to have a second fridge-based, non-perishable item that I can make up a little bit here and there whenever needed/wanted. Freezer log-cookies, that’s an idea. I like doing something simple like “melting chocolate and dipping things in it”, though. Does anyone have more ideas? The Lazy Gourmet. Isn’t that a brand-name already…

Natasha Henderson in Montreal, not Paris.

Besides the crunched-up almonds and vanilla, these are the ingredients.

A few days ago I shared the story about my favorite Christmas recipe: Mom’s Peanut Butter Balls. I had expressed a hope that I would be able to improve the healthiness of this treat, while maintaining the deliciousness of it. I think that somehow, through luck or divine intervention or possibly even ingenuinity, I managed to actually improve the recipe. Please don’t tell my Mom I said that.

So, if you look at the recipe for Peanut Butter Balls, you will see that icing sugar is called for. No. Not using that. I replaced it, on the advice of my Herbalist-Friend Tammy, with dates! They were available at the local cool grocery/convenience-ish store. One could use figs in the same way. I replaced the peanut butter with almond butter, and almonds in place of peanuts. I used good quality nice chocolate. I think my Mom’s already onto THAT one.

Mashing it up with a fork...

So, to be all precise, I used the amount of almond butter that I had left in the fridge. That’s about one cup. Then I chopped up the delicious “meat” of five dates, mixed that in with a dash of vanilla and a handfull of crumpled-up bits of almonds. I formed them into little balls, refrigerated overnight. The next day I took three (perhaps one too many) Lindt 70% Cacao chocolate bars and melted them. There is leftover chocolate (I threw the pan in the fridge) so I am compelled to make more of these. Darn… Coat the little tiny balls in the chocolate, let sit in the fridge overnight.

Delicious and somewhat nutritious too!

Roll the balls in the chocolate... mmm...

I presented them at an event (after taste-testing them a few times, of course) and everyone who tried them LOVED them. No one over-ate, and they just savoured the high-quality and richly flavoured little treats. So good. My new Christmas tradition…

Natasha Henderson, in Montreal

Important Update: See Comments below…

by Natasha Henderson. Recipe thanks to her Mom.

When I was growing up, there was an infamous recipe (well, there were actually several) that my Mom would make for Christmas. This is one of my personal favorites, a classic combination of peanut butter and chocolate. A reward for not eating them all while they’re being processed is to lick clean the chocolate-pan. Yummy!

care package...

I love this recipe, however, I would like to try some changes the next time I make it. I’d change the icing sugar to a small amount of stevia, or try some natural cane icing sugar. I would most certainly change the sweet chocolate into dark chocolate with a high cocoa content. I already use a natural peanut butter (ingredients: peanuts!) rather than a sugary, fructose-laden, hydrogenated-oily one. I might even throw a dash of salt into the mix to contrast with the sweetness or tartness of the chocolate.

Mom’s Peanut Butter Balls

1 Cup Peanut Butter

1 Cup Icing Sugar

1 Teaspoon vanilla

3/4 Cup Chopped Peanuts

Combine all above ingredients, then shape into balls of about 3/4″. Chill in a pan, on waxed paper, overnight.

When they’ve chilled thoroughly, melt enough sweet chocolate to cover them (about three squares) and dip. At this point you have an option to roll them in crushed nuts, toasted coconut, or graham crumbs. (My family has tried all these over the years and always go back to the plain chocolate…) Place on waxed paper pan, and chill in the refrigerator again ’til the chocolate hardens. Can be frozen (but probably won’t be!) Enjoy!

Natasha will make a “classic version” of this recipe, and will also try out the healthier options. She will taste-test them both, and report back here…

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