Those crazy kids Katie and Porter are going to go and make an aunt out of me. I am very excited. I have a feeling I'll be one of those doting relatives that sees any mildly cute kid's outfit or toy and buys it immediately for which to gift the child. I'm determined to be this kid's favorite aunt, and since for now I'm the only one living in the same town, I think I can best the competition.
I'm also hoping that a new baby is a good excuse to buy a decent camera, with which to take thousands of pictures of said baby. I voiced this opinion to Katie a couple of weeks ago, and the baby seriously hiccuped or burped or made some kind of noise from the womb to affirm that it is indeed a good idea.
Katie's co-workers gave her a baby shower last week. I collected pictures of Katie and Porter as children for a slideshow:
The hard thing about not being the oldest child in the family is that there are precious few pictures without the older siblings in them. And Porter, being the third child, is lucky there are pictures of him at all! Abby watched the video and said, "Wow, you guys dressed up a lot." I didn't even notice. I suppose we did dress up a lot as kids, putting on plays and fashion shows and for Halloween.
I made chocolate truffles for the shower. This is one of my favorite recipes. This time I took three different flavors, raspberry, almond, and coffee (Chambord, Amaretto, and Kahlua).
Perfect Chocolate Truffles
Recipe from Cook's Illustrated
Makes 2 dozen 1-inch truffles.
Ganache9 ounces semisweet chocolate or bittersweet chocolate, chopped coarse
1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 tablespoon light corn syrup
2 tablespoons Cognac , dark rum, Grand Marnier, Framboise, Kirsch, Frangelico, Amaretto, Kahlua, or port
Chocolate and Cocoa Coating8 ounces semisweet chocolate or bittersweet chocolate
2 cups Dutch-processed cocoa powder , sifted
For the ganache:
1. Melt chocolate in medium heatproof bowl set over pan of almost simmering water, stirring once or twice, until smooth. Set bowl aside.
2. Bring cream, butter, and corn syrup to strong simmer (about 160 degrees) in non-reactive pan over low heat. Remove pan from heat, cool for 5 minutes, then whisk into chocolate. Whisk in liquor.
3. Refrigerate mixture until it cools to 80 degrees, 15 to 20 minutes.
4. Either in bowl of electric mixer fitted with whisk attachment or with handheld electric mixer, whip mixture at medium speed until slightly lightened and thickened to a texture like store-bought canned chocolate frosting, 25 to 30 seconds.
5. Spoon ganache into large pastry bag fitted with 1/2-inch plain tube. Hold bag perpendicular to pan and with tip about 3/4 inch above work surface, and pipe 3/4-inch mounds (pulling tube away to the side to avoid leaving points) onto parchment or wax paper-covered baking sheet. Alternatively, scoop mounds with tiny (less than 1 tablespoon) ice cream scoop or melon baller.
6. Refrigerate mounds until hardened, at least an hour.
7. Following directions in step 1, melt coating chocolate, then cool to 90 degrees, making certain that no water comes into contact with chocolate.
8. Arrange chilled truffle mounds, bowl of melted chocolate, and cocoa-filled high-sided roasting pan on work surface. Working one mound at a time, dip palm of one hand about 1/4-inch deep into melted chocolate, pass one truffle mound with other hand to chocolate-covered hand and close hand around mound to coat, re-dipping hand into chocolate every third or fourth mound.
9. Drop coated truffle into cocoa; roll to coat using fork held in now empty clean hand, leaving truffles in cocoa until chocolate coating has set, about 1 minute. Repeat process until all mounds are in pan of cocoa.
10. Gently roll 5 to 6 truffles at a time in medium strainer to remove excess cocoa, then transfer to serving plate or tightly covered container. (Can be refrigerated for up to one week.)
Notes: These truffles are meant to look like the real thing—small, irregular mounds instead of perfectly spherical balls. If you decide to omit the liquor flavoring, reduce chocolate from 9 to 8 ounces. For microwave-oriented cooks, you can melt the chocolate at 50% power for about 3 minutes. The ganache mixture is quite forgiving. If it cools too much in step 1, place the bowl in a larger pan of warm water and stir the mixture until it has softened and warmed up. If this overwarms the mixture, cool it again as directed. The same flexibility applies if you overwhip the ganache by mistake. Simply warm it over the hot water, cool it, and whip it again. One person alone can dip and coat the truffles, but the process is simpler with a second person to roll coated truffles in cocoa and lift them onto a clean pan.
If the predictions are right, baby Rondella should arrive around Christmas.