My grandmother is ninety four today. Ninety four! She’s still got all her faculties, although she’s got a glass eye, and an artificial hip. She started a lending library in her little farm town in Illiniois at ninety because she’d “retired” and she needed a project. So she got a lot of people to donate books, and she got a donated building, and she catalogued all the books. If you want to borrow a book from my grandmother’s library, basically you just write it down in the notebook, and you bring it back when you want. It’s a great little library. People come in and talk to her, she loans them books, and everyone is happy. And so because my grandmother is still funny and she loves me, for her birthday I made her some bittersweet chocolate and cinnamon truffles. She’s lived almost exclusively on chocolate for at least thirty years now — she doesn’t need anymore stuff, but she does like chocolate. So this year, instead of sending her a box of Sees, I thought I’d make her some truffles.
They’re not hard, and I had a bar of Scharffenberger bittersweet chocolate that I’d picked up the last time I was in California — so I chopped it fine, heated 3/4 cup of heavy cream to the boiling point, poured it over the chopped chocolate in the bowl, added a splash of Grand Marnier and swirled it until the whole thing went shiny and smooth. Then cooled it, and a day later, used my new, groovy mini-ice-cream-melon-baller-scoop to scoop out the truffles.
The chocolate truffles were good, but the chocolate was really bitter, and I thought that rolling them in cocoa would be too much, and I don’t like the super-sweet punch that powdered sugar packs. So I thought that cinnamon sugar would be nice — it’d sweeten up the bitter chocolate a little bit, and I really love that Mexican cinnamon-chocolate taste. So I rolled the scooped-out chocolate balls in cinnamon sugar, and packed them in a box for Granny. They weren’t pretty (but they’re supposed to look like fungus, right?), but they were really good. It worked. There was just enough sugar to sweeten them up, and the cinnamon added a nice spice. If I made them for anyone other than my granny, I’d add some chile to the mix — I think these would be great with a little heat added to them.
So that was the cooking project for the week. Truffles for my granny, who is known for obscure family reasons as Mommy Jane (and since it embarasses her to no end to have a bunch of grown up grandchildren calling her this, we insist on continuing to do so). Happy Ninety Fourth Mommy Jane! May I too live to be lucid and old and still thinking of something useful I can do in my community.