New Years is a time for resolutions and goals. I’m pretty sure at age 25, I had about two goals for the next five years. The first was obviously to get my PhD done at some point in the next five years. The second was to get married at age 27 (27 was a random age I picked that seemed appropriate at the time). The PhD happened at age 28. As for my other goal, an email at age 26 with the words “I’m sorry” and “we aren’t getting married” changed pretty much everything. An email can do that.
So, in my 26th year, I changed my address, all my phone numbers (cell and landline), and my hair-do (from straight hair to a wild ’80s perm). I even changed friends (pretty much all of them), and I think I started to become me in the process (except for the hair). I baked like crazy (obviously), and I connected with amazing people that I will love forever and who let me figure out me.
I clearly didn’t get married at 27, or at 28, or even at 29, and I guess that’s okay because I continued to figure out who I am. At 28, I finished my PhD and I was a medical writer for awhile. This last year, my 29th year, I was a “funemployed” traveler, spending most of the year baking, blogging, and meeting people who love food as much as I do. There were ups and downs to the year, just like any other, but I think I finally accepted that what I want to do might not be what others think I should do.
Now that I find myself a few days away from my 30th birthday and on the eve of a new year, I made two new goals for my next 5 or so years. The first is to learn to bake, for real, courtesy of a professional diploma (after all, I am good at school, if nothing else!), and the second is to open a bakery. I want a little shop that will make me happy. A shop that will represent me. Fine, the last goal is a little nuts. It may or may not work out, and it may take longer than 5 years, but I’m going to try and see what happens.
So, an email can change everything, and it did, probably for the better. Several years later, I think I am closer to figuring out who I am and who I want to be.
On a regular day, I’d probably never make truffles or sweets like these, but since it’s the holiday season, and New Years, I ended up making two kinds. Don’t worry, they’re really simple to make. They store well, and make great gifts!
The first batch are chocolate covered fruitcake truffles (adapted from Donna Hay magazine, issue 58). Basically, you blend left-over fruitcake (unfrosted, please!) with some spiced rum. Form the dough into truffles, dip them in melted chocolate, and dust with cocoa. They are super easy, and allow you to repurpose some of that left-over fruitcake. These truffles have a hard chocolate shell on the outside, and a moist, fruity inside with a sweet rum flavor.
The second batch are chocolate amaretto balls (recipe courtesy of a friend of the family), made of vanilla wafers, melted chocolate chips, ground nuts, and amaretto. Again, these are really easy to prepare. Just form the mixture into balls, and roll them in granulated sugar for a pretty, shimmery effect. These chocolate balls are pleasantly drier than the usual truffles, with a lovely nutty texture and the taste of amaretto.
- 400 grams fruitcake
- 4 tsp spiced rum
- 200 grams 70% dark chocolate melted
- Cocoa powder for dusting
- Place the fruitcake and the rum in the bowl of a food processor and process until combined.
- Roll the mixture into small, bite-sized truffles (~ 1 inch).
- Dip the truffles in the melted chocolate, and place on a parchment-lined baking sheet to set.
- Dust with cocoa powder before serving.
Chocolate amaretto balls
- 170 grams semi-sweet chocolate chips
- 3 tbsp corn syrup
- 1/2 cup amaretto liqueur 125 mL
- 2 1/2 cups vanilla wafer crumbs 300 grams
- 1/2 cup powdered sugar 70 grams
- 1 cup chopped nuts 160 grams, I used pecans
- Granulated sugarfor rolling
- Melt the chocolate chips, and then add the corn syrup and the amaretto. Set aside.
- In a large bowl, combine the wafer crumbs, powdered sugar, and the nuts.
- Add the melted chocolate mixture and mix well.
- Let stand about 30 minutes and then form the mixture into 1-inch balls.
- Roll the balls in granulated sugar.
- Let the balls season, in a container for several days before serving.
Janice Lawandi is chemist-turned-baker, working as a recipe developer in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. She studied pastry at Le Cordon Bleu in Ottawa and cooking at l’Académie Culinaire. She has a BSc in Biochemistry from Concordia University and a PhD in Chemistry from McGill University. Visit janicelawandi.com to see my portfolio.