Friday, February 13, 2009

Chocolate Alchemy

Women love me: I make chocolate truffles. I know, this declaration is brash and cocky. It is also irrefutable. The evidence is in the woman’s eyes. She pops the truffle into her mouth. She blinks. She smiles. She's in love, briefly.

Incidentally, men love me too: I make chocolate brownie sundaes. This declaration, too, is irrefutable. The evidence is in the man’s fist. Here’s what happens. He takes a bite. He raises his fist in triumph. He is Montezuma, the Aztec king, re-born.

Montezuma reputedly had an absurd affinity for chocolate. According to reports left by the Spanish conquistadors, he drank as many as 50 cups of chocolate a day. Apparently, he needed the chocolate. Montezuma had hundreds of lovers. Chocolate was his Viagra.

Chocolate is the food of the sensual monster....

Picasso, the monster, reputedly fed his children dinners made entirely of chocolate desserts.


Alchemy is remembered as a medieval chemical philosophy having as its asserted aims the transmutation of base metals into gold, the discovery of a panacea, and the preparation of an elixir of longevity.

Carl Jung, among others, saw alchemy as something more: a symbolic system for spiritual transformation. The great alchemists, he noted, were not really working to transforms metals, but to transform their own souls, from a lead-like state of ignorance to one of golden enlightenment.

The preparation of chocolate can be compared to alchemy: the astringent, bitter and otherwise bland seeds of a tropical tree are transformed into a dense, smooth, and somewhat sweet food, with an unrivaled, complex taste—a golden food.

Chocolate is a transformative food, capable of igniting passion and romance and fervor. When we work with chocolate, we embody Jung’s idea of the ancient alchemists. In this case, the asserted aim of our work is too transmute the raw ingredients into food, but the real aim of our work is to inspire romance and bravado.

I first encountered chocolate bravado in Barcelona; now that I am back in the states I find myself dreaming of a return to that city, to the famous pastry shop, Escriba, where, one morning I saw two gorgeous women sharing a chocolate cake with a beast of a man. The beast was clad in black leather from head to toe. The trio looked as if they were on the tail end of a long night, and they smoked while they ate, purposefully, as if they were battling for a last chance at recognition. It was my first day in Barcelona and it was my first sight of a Catalan. I couldn’t explain to myself why I felt so amazed. Nor could I tear my eyes away from the enormity of the piece of chocolate cake the beast was eating.

He stopped and returned my gaze. Then, with the odd braggadocio of someone who is still drunk, he pointed at my plate and laughed.

I was eating a granola bar.

I was not so interested in chocolate back then.

Still, even then, I had the impression, looking upon this monster in leather, that I was witnessing a stellar engagement—the same engagement that hits me now, every evening, after eating my final meal of the day, when I sit down to eat a truffle, lovingly made, and I sense the absurd affinity that humankind has developed for chocolate, a relationship initiated by an Aztec king and propagated ever since, by kings and lovers alike.

Here's a delicious recipe I recently discovered in the Times: Coconut Hot Chocolate.


Coconut Chocolate Truffles

Chocolate truffles are easy to make; they are also shockingly delicious. Here, I replace the traditional heavy cream with coconut cream, a healthy source of fat and another source of sensual allure. You can also roll the truffles in cocoa powder or chopped nuts, like pistachios.

½ c. coconut milk (coconut milk must be full-fat; try Thai Kitchen's)
8 oz. bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped (For truffles, I prefer Chocolove Chocolate; or Endangered Species' Supreme Dark Bar)
1/2 cup dried coconut

Place chopped chocolate in a medium-sized bowl. Create a double boiler by placing bowl over a simmering pot of water. Gently melt the chocolate.

Pour coconut milk into a medium saucepan and bring to a gentle simmer over medium-low heat. Remove from heat, let cool slightly, and pour over chocolate. Gently stir until smooth, chocolate is completely melted, and coconut milk is incorporated.

Rest until firm, 1-3 hours.

Place coconut into a bowl. Using a measuring spoon, scoop up 1 teaspoon of chocolate, and quickly roll into a ball about 3/4 inch across. Drop into coconut; roll each truffle to coat.

Let rest until firm, 30 minutes.

Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.

6 comments:

Jennifer said...

I LOVE CHOCOLATE!!! I eat it daily. Greg loves chocolate too. It's delicious and sensuous. Yummmy!!! Thanks for sharing your blog and recipes.

Anonymous said...

I am making it right now.
Thank you Seth!!!

Bert said...

50 cups of chocolate a day? I'd say he got his comeuppance.

Stephanie said...

Oh Seth, you are baaaad.
You are very, very bad.

(In the best way possible, that is)

me said...

I never would have thought to use coconut milk instead of heavy cream. I usually make truffles at Christmas, but I don't know that I'll wait that long to try this recipe. Thanks for sharing. :)

Blogger said...

3 Researches PROVE Why Coconut Oil Kills Waist Fat.

This means that you literally get rid of fat by eating Coconut Fats (including coconut milk, coconut cream and coconut oil).

These 3 studies from large medicinal journals are sure to turn the traditional nutrition world upside down!