‘I do love a truffle. And when Martha makes them look like cute little robin’s eggs set in a nest made of chocolate shavings, my competitive nature flares and I just have to try them for myself.
Don’t worry, though, I’m not offended if you’re thinking that mine aren’t really all that blue, and I know they aren’t reeeeaaaaly all that egg shaped, either, even though I angled them just so to emphasize their eggy quality (and ok, I bumped up the saturation too). No problem, only a little tiny bit of my self esteem is wrapped up in these eggs.
Anyway I gave it a shot. And since I’ve finally learned the wisdom of buying chocolate when it goes on sale, I now have a stash ready when inspiration (or Martha) strikes. I picked up a whole bunch of Hershey’s bars when they were practically giving them away after Valentine’s Day, and I guess it was having that stack of chocolate in the kitchen that got me thinking about the issues of fair trade. Why now, I’m not sure. I’ve been aware for a while that the chocolate industry is problematic, and I want to be more conscious about what I buy, but that awareness hasn’t necessarily translated into any concrete changes in my buying habits. I still go for the sales, and the convenience factor. At least so far.
The fact is that the production of chocolate in the Third World is associated with a lot of bad stuff, like child labor, forced labor (yep, slavery), inhumane conditions, and environmentally irresponsible practices. Most of the large companies we’re familiar with have tacitly condoned this over the years. They buy the chocolate through middlemen who oversee the production of chocolate in vulnerable underdeveloped countries. Lately, probably due to public pressure, some of those companies have publicly agreed to become more responsible, and Hershey’s, for example has vowed to be completely Fair Trade by 2020.
You can find responsibly harvested chocolate, but you have to go out of your way to look for it, and yes, it’s usually more expensive. A good place to start is Whole Foods or Trader Joe’s. And Green & Black’s and Guittard are a couple of companies that sell exclusively fair trade chocolate. I’d like to say that I go out of my way to find fair trade chocolate but the truth is, I don’t. I do want to change, though, and I know that awareness is the first step.
Believe it or not Easter and Passover are second only to Halloween for the biggest chocolate sales of the year. It’s a good time to at least think about the issues and maybe even get involved.
Anyway these truffle eggs are problematic in themselves. They taste great, but actually coaxing the messy ganache into a shape vaguely resembling an egg wasn’t easy. Coloring the white chocolate was tricky, too. The easiest part was shaving the chocolate for the nest.
These would be cute as a holiday centerpiece, or at individual place settings. If anyone makes them I’d love to post your photos, maybe you can do a better job!
Robin’s Egg Truffle Nests ~~~recipe from Martha Stewart, slightly adjusted
makes approx 2 dozen truffles
8 oz dark chocolate, cut in small pieces
1/4 cup plus 2 Tbsp heavy cream
1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter at room temperature, cut in pieces
- Put the chocolate and the cream in a large glass measuring cup. Microwave for 1 minute and then stir until the mixture is smooth and the chocolate is completely melted. This will take a minute or more of stirring. If necessary, put the chocolate back in the microwave for short 10-15 second bursts.
- Stir in the soft butter until it is melted and the mixture is smooth and glossy.
- Pour the chocolate into a loaf pan, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until the ganache is firm enough to scoop, but not too hard…about 2 hours.
- Using a small 1 1/2 inch ice cream scoop, scoop out balls of the ganache and set them on a platter or baking sheet. If your chocolate will not release from the scoop, it needs to chill a little longer. When they are all scooped, place them back in the refrigerator for 10 more minutes.
- Remove from the fridge and roll each ball between your hands into an oval egg shape. This is the hard part. You may need to press the round balls between your fingers rather firmly to encourage them into an oval shape. Stash them in the freezer for about 30 minutes to re-firm up. (This is so that the chocolate won’t bleed into the warm white chocolate when you dip them for the outer coating). Caution: this part is messy, you’ll look like you were making mud pies when you’re finished.
for the coating:
1 lb white chocolate, cut in pieces (I used white chocolate chips)
2 tsp (or more if necessary) Crisco shortening
pale blue paste food coloring
- Put the chocolate in a shallow glass bowl or measuring cup, deep enough to dip the truffles into.
- Microwave on high for 30 seconds. Stir. Microwave for another 30 seconds and stir again until completely melted. If the chocolate doesn’t completely melt after stirring for a minute or so, microwave for another 10 seconds or so.
- Add the shortening as needed to thin the chocolate to dipping consistency.
- Add the food coloring, a little at a time, until you get a robin’s egg blue shade.
- Using the tines of a fork, or a chocolate dipper, dip the cold truffles into the chocolate, cover completely with the chocolate, and then tap the fork against the side of the bowl to let the excess drip off.
- Lay the truffles on parchment or waxed paper to harden.
for the nest:
any kind of bar chocolate
- Use a vegetable peeler to peel off strips of chocolate to form the nest.
They do taste good!