This has been one of those weeks when my brain hasn’t had the energy to flat line, much less articulate whole sentences. But now that the Royal Wedding has come and gone, Bin Laden’s been dumped in the ocean and heart-throb Justin Bieber finally has his own line of nail polish (the One Less Lonely Girl Collection no less), all I can think about is the stuff that hearts are made of.
If you were to take a bite into one of my hearts there’s no telling what you’d get. It might be something flowery like the taste of a delicate rose, or something a little bit fruity or something dark and bitter. Whatever you’d taste in my hearts, I promise you something new with each and every bite.
That wasn’t the plan, of course, the hearts were supposed to be filled with creamy chamomile-lavender ganache, but you remember that disaster. The ganache and my brain had both curdled by the time the company came knocking, so I just wrapped the shells in some plastic wrap and put them in the bedroom where it was a pretty safe bet they wouldn’t get too hot or steamy.
A couple of days later in between job hunting and gazing at the beach (in hopes a good job would just wash up on shore and I could bring it home and keep it), I glanced over at the dresser and saw those empty hearts and knew if I didn’t fill and cap them very soon they’d get so brittle they’d never bleed.
So there they were, in need of filling and capping. But here’s something I’ve discovered: making chocolates is an awful lot of fun and eating chocolates even funner. But having to make chocolates because you started a blog and promise all your friends boxes of delicious chocolates is less than fun, especially when you have real life habitually getting in the way. It is one of those things you need to get done, and gets to be like managing a Twitter account. After awhile you find yourself saying, “Why am I doing this?”
When it comes to chocolate making, the ah-ha meaningful answer isn’t far away – to make me a better person. To teach me patience and tolerance for imperfection. To provide me a useful skill. To impress my friends and enemies. To avoid more meaningful activity. To stuff my face when the alternative is salad.
When it comes to Twitter the answer is less convoluted. Because we live in strange and goofy times.
At any rate, what with the chocolate making turning into an all consuming and all confusing hobby, the kitchen counters crowded with chocolate-covered Pyrex (when will that company send me my giveaways I would like to know?) and the heart shells beating for my attention, I knew I had to get them turned out. So I took all my ganaches out of the freezer (I keep them frozen right in their pastry bags, marked with a twist tie stolen from the bulk foods department of my local grocery store) and thawed them all.
I have to confess, thawing is one of those things I always mean to do, but never get to until the very last minute. Which makes no sense at all when you consider all you have to do is open the freezer, grab what you want, and set it on the counter. I do it in stores all the time and then pull out my wallet. But at home and when it doesn’t cost me anything it’s a different story. Come six o’clock when the kid starts to wail, I take stock of what to make for dinner and decide a roast chicken sounds good. Drop the rock-solid bird in the sink, cover with hot water, then order a pizza. That’s usually the way it goes.
So instead of taking the ganaches out the night before, I ended up soaking them in hot water, microwaving a few, kneading the little plastic pastry bags in my hands until the ganache was all re-stirred and mushy and ready to play with, while imagining a roomful of French chocolatiers clutching their chests, smashing their heads into the wall and cursing like rabid poets at my sacrilegious ways.
Then I piped a variety of fillings into my hearts, capped them and turned them out – mystery hearts that would have made Forrest Gump’s mama proud. You never know what you’re going to get.
So naturally, I tried sniffing them. That’s right. Every time my hand hovered over that plate of chocolates then fell straight down on top of one, I would pick it up, turn it over (exposing the thinner shell) and take a deep sniff. Dark? Perhaps. But perhaps bittersweet? Spicy? Or has my nose been seared by chili and I can’t tell the difference between chipotle and rosebuds. Quite possible. Only one way to tell . . .
And then I’d smile. I like surprises. Most of the time. I like not knowing what the next bite will bring. Just as long as when someone’s taking a bite out of my own heart, they are kind enough to savor it, and know that the next bite just might bring a surprise.