My sister and I have always thought the sun rose and set on our older brother Jay. He was our hero. When he began dating, we scrutinized each successive girlfriend and had basically decided that there simply could never be a girl good enough for Jay. Charming they might be, but they would never measure up.
Then, he met Ann and his search was over. When we met her, my sister and I conferred and we agreed that our brother, as wonderful as he is, wasn't quite good enough for Ann. We haven't changed our opinion in their 40+ years of marriage.
Ann is everything a woman should be - charming wife, good mother, great friend, successful career woman, caring neighbor, super volunteer. She treats me like the sister she never had. She's even pretty. And slim although she eats like a horse. She's the kind of woman you could really hate, if she weren't so darn nice. Instead, we all adore her.
Did I mention that she's also a gourmet cook? She took her five years of living in France seriously and learned how to cook by inviting her French neighbors and friends over frequently to critique her dishes. (The French love her, too).
Anyway, when Ann serves anything from cassoulet to candy, it's well worth tasting and it's usually heavenly. I have adopted some of her easier recipes and make them frequently. One that I make every year at Christmas is her chocolate truffles. These are tiny, not too sweet and pack a chocolate wallop. I usually serve fruit for dessert when I have a dinner party and then, with the coffee, I put out a few of Ann's chocolate truffles. One or two are plenty - these tiny truffles satisfy even the most devoted chocoholic. I have never found anyone who didn't rave about them.
Because of the butter and egg that enriches the chocolate base, the truffles quite literally melt in the warmth of the mouth, flooding the tongue with silky chocolate liquor. You can add any extra flavor you prefer by changing up the liqueur or extract you use in the recipe. My preference is always for Kahlua; I would eat rocks if they tasted of mocha. However, almond, orange, vanilla - even menthe - each has its own appeal. The recipe makes enough that you could easily divide the chocolate base into more than one pot before adding the flavorings if you wanted variety.
Ann is also generous - she shares her recipes with anyone who asks and enjoys hearing back that they were appreciated widely. So, I'm sure she won't mind that I open up her sphere of influence to the greater food blogging world. Yes, she really is that nice.
Ann's French Chocolate Truffles
6 ounces semi-sweet chocolate, cut into chunks (the better the chocolate, the better the result)
2 ounces butter, cut into small pieces (I use unsalted)
2 egg yolks
2 teaspoons liqueur of choice or 1/4 teaspoon flavor extract
Unsweetened cocoa powder
In the top of a double boiler, melt chocolate. Add butter and stir until the two are mixed. Add yolks and stir well (I do this part off the heat but still over the hot water). Add liqueur and stir to mix.
Set the top of the double boiler over a bowl of ice and water, so the bottom of the pan is nestled in the cold mixture. Stir the mixture until it holds a definite shape. Drop onto waxed paper in desired size (I use a 1/4 teaspoon measure as a scoop) and let stand until firm enough to shape into uneven balls. Roll balls in cocoa.
Place in candy cups and ripen in a cookie tin for one day. To store more than one day, refrigerate. Serve at room temperature.