Tag Archives: valentine’s day

Taking on Chocolate Truffles at Home Is Easier than You Think

Finished Truffles

Create delicious chocolate truffles at home for Valentine’s Day or any occasion.

There’s nothing wrong with those red heart boxes of candy from the drugstore, but they’re filled with just that—candy, which pales in comparison to the intoxicating power and intensity of real chocolate truffles.

If you have access to good-quality bittersweet chocolate, you can make your own truffles at home that will blow most anything from a store out of the water. A gift of nine or twelve in a small box makes a sweet gesture for your friends or sweetheart, but they’re also wonderful to covet for your own brief moment of bliss.

As for the chocolate: don’t use chocolate chips on these, even if they’re good ones. Chocolate chips are coated with a non-melting coating to help them keep their shape in cookies, and they won’t make your truffles as velvety and smooth as you want them to be.

Alice Medrich’s Truffles Au Cocolat
From Alice Medrich’s cookbook Bittersweet

Makes about 64 truffles

These very French truffles use butter and egg yolks instead of cream, yielding a silky texture. The high amount of butter in the ganache makes it difficult to roll it into balls with your hands (the ganache melts easily in warm hands), so I like to cut the truffles into squares and leave them that way.

1 pound bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, finely chopped
10 tablespoons (1-1/4 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
2 large egg yolks, at room temperature
½ cup boiling water or freshly brewed espresso
½ cup best-quality unsweetened cocoa powder (preferably not Dutch-process)

  1. Once you’ve chopped the chocolate finely, line the bottom and sides of an 8-inch square pan with parchment paper or foil, letting the ends of the paper extend out over the pan to create handles. Set aside.
    Step 1

    If you take the time to chop the chocolate finely, it will melt quickly and evenly. A serrated knife, not a chef’s knife, is actually the best tool for the job, because the serrations bite down into the chocolate and hold it in place.

    Step 7

    A properly lined pan will make it easy to remove the ganache after it’s chilled.

  2. Place the butter in 1-quart saucepan and put over medium heat, swirling the pan from time to time so the butter melts evenly. You want to get it not just melted, but a little hot; just when you begin to hear little popping sounds, dump all of the chocolate in at once. Stir to coat the chocolate with the melted butter, remove the pan from heat, cover, and let rest for two or three minutes.
    Step 2

    Put the chunks of butter in a saucepan over direct heat—no messing around with double boilers necessary.

    Step 3

    Dump the chocolate into the hot melted butter all at once.

  3. Stir the butter-chocolate mixture again, placing the pan over low heat and stirring constantly if you still see small bits of chocolate that are not melted; do not let the chocolate burn. Set aside.
    Step 6

    At first, the chocolate and butter will look like a huge mess.

    Step 5

    It will take a little patient, gentle stirring once you add the egg yolk mixture for everything to come together. Focus your stirring in the center of the pan at first, then widen the strokes.

  4. Place the egg yolks in a small stainless steel bowl and stir in the boiling water or espresso. Place the bowl over the saucepan of simmering water and stir the egg mixture constantly, until the mixture reaches 160 degrees F on an instant-read thermometer. Immediately scrape into the melted chocolate and stir gently (do not whisk or beat) until completely blended and smooth. Pour the mixture through a fine-mesh sieve into the lined pan and spread evenly. Cover and chill until firm, at least 2 hours.
    Step 4

    The finished ganache is smooth and shiny.

    Step 8

    Pour the ganache into the pan and, if necessary, smooth it evenly.

  5. Sift the cocoa into a medium bowl. Remove the truffle pan from the refrigerator and use the liner to transfer the truffle sheet to a cutting board. Allow to soften until you can cut the truffle sheet without it cracking, about 30 minutes. Invert the sheet and peel off the liner. Cut the truffles into 1-inch squares or smaller and toss them in the cocoa powder to coat.
    Step 9

    Score the firmed-up ganache into small squares.

    Step 10

    Lightly shake the cocoa-dusted truffles in a wire strainer to remove excess cocoa powder.

  6. Store the truffles, tightly covered, in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks. Remove from refrigerator about 20 minutes before serving to allow them to soften slightly.

by Sara Bir

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Warm Your Heart this Winter with Vintage Brass Brooches

Bird Brooch 2

This brass Art Nouveau swan brooch is part of a collection that’s sure to steal your heart.

One of our favorite things about Valentine’s Day – besides the great opportunities for wearing fabulous jewelry, of course – is the sweet iconography that has come to be associated with this especially romantic holiday. Vintage valentine cards with their imagery of lavish floral arrangements, cute flying cherubs and scenes of old fashioned courtship are just so heartwarmingly sentimental, you can’t help falling in love with their unique throwback charm.

Flower Girl Brooch resize

This lovely brass pin is all about old fashioned sentimentality.

Our newly released collection of vintage brooches was manufactured in Italy in the 1980’s using original antique dies dating from the Victorian and Edwardian eras, with some designs boasting heavy influences from the Art Nouveau and Art Deco movements. Some are fantastically on-trend for iconic Valentine’s Day fashion, while other reproductions are perfect for year-round vintage glam.  Their warm golden tones are perfect for brightening up your wardrobe on dreary wintry days, and the images they depict are sure to pique your fancy.

Pegasus Brooch

This Pegasus brooch has a romantic vibe that’s perfect for Valentine’s Day.

Cherubs, Kittens and Pegasus, Oh My!

Of course, no Valentine’s Day is complete without images of cupids and cherubs everywhere in sight. A glance backward in time shows that the same was true in the Victorian era. Cherubs dancing! Cherubs in flight! Cherubs grasping big red hearts! Our brass brooch collection stays true to the theme. Add in a Pegasus pin, and you’re all set for a darling Greco-Roman display of romantic winged characters.

Cherub Brooch

This vintage cherub pin perfectly captures the feel of Victorian valentines.

Vintage Valentine’s Day artifacts also boast a heavy focus on cats. Much like today’s internet fascination with furry felines, Victorian valentines of yesteryear showcase a wide array of all sorts of kitties. You’ll find soft-looking kittens in big bows looking oh-so cute, anthropomorphic cats standing up on their hind legs doing human activities and even particularly sophisticated ones dressed up in period costumes. If you’re taken with these comely creatures and need a Victorian valentine kitty in your life, look no further than this fabulous brass brooch!

Cat Brooch resize

This Victorian kitty cat brooch is both cute and sassy.

Romantic Bohemian Beauties

One does not have to look exclusively at old fashioned valentines to get a sense of romance dating from the mid-twentieth and early nineteenth centuries. Examine works from the Pre-Raphaelite and Art Nouveau movements to find paintings of lovely long-haired ladies surrounded by flowers, often depicted in idyllic settings or framed by botanical graphic borders. This sort of imagery is highly romantic, and perfectly on-trend for this year’s revival of bohemian fashion. You don’t necessarily need to emulate the exact looks of these women by crafting DIY flower crowns or wearing dresses ranging from exceedingly elaborate to scandalously loose. Instead, fasten one of our reproduction vintage brass portrait brooches onto your coat or purse, put on a boho beaded fringe necklace or bangle stack and you’ll be well on your way to a hippie chic look that’s great for Valentine’s Day glamour or year-round panache.

Sunflower Girl Brooch

This gorgeous Art Nouveau brooch is replete with bohemian glam.

Creatures to Warm Your Heart

There is certainly a lot more to the Valentine’s holiday than retro cards and art history tableaux. Do you like elephants? Is your sweetheart a fan of birds? When gifting yourself or a loved one this Valentine’s Day, you have to be sure to find something charming that will be cherished for years to come. Taking your pick of our iconic animal brass brooches means that you’re selecting a sort of love token with staying power. Our Victorian elephant bauble is nothing short of fabulous, and a shining Art Nouveau bird pin makes a stunning avian addition to any vintage fashionista’s jewelry collection.

Elephant Brooch resize

The detailing on this iconic elephant brooch is exceptionally extraordinary.

This Valentine’s Day, warm your heart and your wardrobe with stunning vintage brass brooches with beautifully romantic iconic themes. They’ll enliven your mood through the last leg of winter, and will easily become favorite baubles for wearing all year.

by Sarah Clark

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