Forget buying overpriced chocolates and goodies for your sweetie or friends this Valentine’s Day. Why not give them a more personal way of saying “You’re Special” by making them a sweet gift yourself? These rich and decadent chocolate truffles are sure to please any chocolate lover.
Believe it or not, chocolate truffles are not difficult to make. I decided to take on the challenge for the sake of this post and prove that it can be easily accomplished (you’re talking to Miss Anti-Pastry, remember?). So what if they don’t look as perfect as those expensive Godiva ones? They taste amazing and they’ve got a whole lot more love in them than anything you could buy in the store.
For this recipe, I decided to flavor mine with dark rum. I suggest using good quality chocolate (for taste) and chocolate chips in a bag will suffice just as well (go for Ghirardelli or other fancy brand, if you do). Indulge, enjoy, and have a happy Valentines Day!
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Cachaça! Brazil's national booze produced from sugarcane (photo: Wikimedia Commons)
Though most of the U.S is stuck in the doldrums of a chilly, gray winter, I’m in sunny Brazil. While the temperatures are averaging somewhere in the 50s at home, it’s a balmy 80 degrees and I’m on a beach in Rio with a cold drink in my hand. In my mind, at least.
Instead of waiting for the warmer months, I’m imagining they’re already here with an exotic cocktail straight from the other side of the Equator — thanks to my new friend cachaça. Made from sugarcane, cachaça (“ka-SHA-sa”) is Brazil’s answer to rum. While rum is typically made from the distilled byproducts of sugarcane (like molasses), cachaça is produced straight from fresh sugarcane before being fermented and distilled. It comes in two varieties, unaged (white) and aged (gold), but is more familiarly seen as the former.
Unaged cachaça has the slight flavor and aroma of fresh sugarcane, and it reminds me of a cross between silver tequila and light rum — light and aromatic like tequila but with a smooth end note like rum.
Cachaça makes a great substitute for white rum, vodka or even tequila in a cocktail, but I find that it is best showcased in Brazil’s fabulous and refreshing national cocktail: the Caipirinha (“kye-pur-een-yah”). Very similar to the Cuban Mojito, it’s a simple mixture of lime juice, sugar and cachaça. It can be made with rum if you haven’t any cachaça, though the flavor will be a bit different. I like to add a splash of tonic to my Caipirinha to add a bit of effervescence.
While cachaça used to be harder to find in the States, a few producers — Leblon, Velho Barreiro, Ypioca — are making their way onto the scene. Best of all, cachaca is fairly inexpensive — between 15 and 25 bucks at spirits retailers.
My recommendation: Grab yourself this exotic spirit to inject a bit of sunny Brazil into your day (or night).
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