With Valentines Day nearly here, I devote a day to truffle-making and working with chocolate, a variety of flavours and colours that entice and invite. Gazing at them displayed on silver platters I see decadent, to-die-for truffles.
The overpowering smells in my kitchen make me nearly delirious.
There is something comforting about rolling all that soft, gooey chocolate in my hands. I start with latex gloves but discard them after 10 minutes. There is an enjoyment about feeling all that chocolate in my bare hands with no barrier; it is nearly like giving each mouthful a personal touch.
This cooking session has been a pleasure. The thought process, the flavor planning, the sourcing of ingredients, the touch and feel, the admiration and appreciation.
Today I have fallen in love with my truffles, merely just looking at them is nearly enough. How often is the anticipation more exciting than the event ? But I do hope that I will not be disappointed and that the taste will match my expectations!
I end with a variety of flavors.
I cut red chillis from the garden and add a hint to pure cacao by artisan chocolate farmer Willie Harcourt Cooze. Willie messaged me to say that he liked my pairing of Mediterranean bee pollen with Baracoa chocolate because the honey notes in his Cuban chocolate compliment bee pollen. So, thanks to Willie's encouragement, I made more Bee Pollen Truffles and they look striking.
I mix pomegranate seeds with dark chocolate. The result is so vibrant but they need to be consumed on the same day they are prepared. I was told recently that Eve tempted Adam with a pomegranate not an apple. Will these chocolates be tempting enough and so irresistible for a loved one to fall from grace?
I make another visually alluring dark chocolate truffle topped with Rosé Peppercorns using the berries from the Baies rose plant (Euonymus phellomanus) that grows prolifically here. They are slightly peppery but sweet at the same time and the combination with chocolate is delicate and delightful.
I squeeze open fresh and dry figs until they ooze seeds and I split open the rosy rinds of more pomegranates. I stuff the crimson fleshy seeds into the figs and dip the base into more dark chocolate and imagine a mouthful of a variety of seeds mixed with more seeds of different textures.
I move on to the exotic ingredients of the eastern Mediterranean and I stuff dried figs and medjool dates with pistachios and add orange blossom water and rose water to chocolate. I roll little bundles of nuts to make bite-size chocolates, rub gold leaf and top with edible flowers and rose petals.
Is this going to bring on a Valentine mood to make a loved one feel special?
With my eyes closed, the aroma alone of the purest chocolate, rose petals and juicy, perfumed flesh is so tempting and will surely make this forbidden fruit irresistible. I try more combinations with local carob, thyme honey, cardamon and courgette flowers dipped in chocolate to create mysterious mouthfuls with elusive flavors.
I am so thrilled that Professor Oliver Friggieri translated this poem for me. Poetry and love go together and this verse so vividly describes the love he feels for his country and the providence of our land, and here it is to celebrate the month of love:
Exquisite is your fruit, my Malta,
And exquisite your bread, and your honey and your olive oil, and your grapes;
Exquisite like your heart, whatever you generate.
The Southern Sun nourishes you all the year long, benevolent land,
Blessed from the very beginning,
And equally blessed today, fruit of my heart.
- Oliver Friggieri
My valentine recipes are available on www.littlerock.com.mt