So, I've been feeling pretty lucky lately. It may just be the influence of my fellow heart-song-bird/luckiest-man-on-earth Mr.B. His luck is honestly remarkable. For example, he recently started thinking he wanted to get a diesel car because his current little Subaru just so happens to be a gas-guzzling emissions fiend. So, he checks craigslist. Oh, wow, a perfect white diesel Jetta for a reasonable price? What? He can get it the next day? It's in pristine condition? It comes with a FREE BIKE RACK?!
Needless to say, he drove home with it about 24 hours later. This is the kind of luck I am talking about. Intentions = manifesting what he wants. And that's kind of how my life has been recently, especially since our move to Charlottesville. I got a job almost as soon as I moved here (SO thankful!) and now I've been promoted at that same small company this week to a way more cush position. And I was just thinking that I wanted to switch up the work I've been doing to something that doesn't require me to be on my feet all day. Again, thank you universe. You are bountiful and I am blissful!
Beyond the job-luck, I have found a bad-ass bike (named "cocoa"... seriously, this is the name that came with the bike), discovered some awesome coffee-spots in town, connected to new heart-song-birds in town, stumbled upon a ridiculously amazing open mic called Verbs & Vibes where I can perform my poems to a positive audience, and I've run into old yogi-friends around town. Maybe these things don't seem like much, but they fill my heart with sunshine.
Oh, did I mention that I've been developing signature chocolate recipes? Yup. That's lucky for you.
As mentioned in my post on Lavender Honey Milk Tea, I'm going through a lavender phase. I'm getting more and more into herbal tonics as remedies for day-to-day body/spirit imbalances. Lavender happens to help me out A LOT when it comes to chilling out my worried mind & calming down peaked nerves. OK I know that makes me sound a bit like a spazz, but I'm not I swear. I just happen to have that worry-wart nature we Virgo's/September birthdays tend towards. Every september child I know is like this. But, I think, I am a way more mellow autumn child than I could be, mostly thanks to yoga, vegetarianism, meditation, and some good ol herbal tonics every once and a while. And chocolate. LOTS of chocolate.
FYI: chocolate is good for you. Dark, dairy-free chocolate that is. I used to be really into "raw" chocolate. In fact, a "raw" chocolate fudge (made with coconut oil, maca, dates, cacao powder, and hot chiles) was the main shock-wave causing catalyst that got me obsessed with experimenting with food, especially cacao. However, I now know better than to call cacao powder and butter "raw," no matter what the labels say. If you really dig, do the research, you will find that it is damn near impossible to produce "raw" cacao. The only way to produce a raw cacao product is to wash the beans straight out of the pod that they grow in, which, SURPRISE, destroys all of that rich, chocolate flavor. All cacao goes through a fermenting and drying process, which develops that luscious, bitter, super flavonoid-packed chocolatey-ness. During fermenting the cacao gets up to 200 + degrees. Does that sound "raw" to you? Beyond that, all "raw" powder & cocoa butter has to be pressed through a machine that can heat up above 200 degrees.
Most nibs that you get in the store have been roasted and cracked.
So, if you've been paying premium for cacao labeled "raw" (an unregulated term), guess what? You're just eating regular cacao that, arguably, is of lesser flavor quality than regularly processed cacao. Why? Some "raw" manufacturers try to stop the fermentation process 1/3 of the way through (fermenting develops most of the flavor).
No worries, that "raw" stuff (i.e. regular stuff in a fancy "raw" tutu/tiara combo outfit) is still GREAT for you. All cacao is.
Cacao is packed with antioxidants, which destroy free radicals and slow aging; it is a significant source of magnesium (we lady folk especially need this); it contains cannabinoids and anandamide, both of which stimulate the release of endorphins (that's why you feel "high" and "buzzed" after eating a lot of high-quality dark chocolate. It's also why Lupin gives Harry Potter chocolate after a dementor attack. Yes. I said it. C'mon, we were all thinking it, right?).
So, lavender + cacao is a super mood-boosting combo. The calm, well-being induced by lavender and the smiley, giggley, warm effects of chocolate are like mates that grew up together in a beautiful old English town. Mates that delivered flowers to all of the sad little old ladies in town, bringing some bright sunshine to quiet, cool, rainy days.
Lavender Dreaming Truffles
If you are interested in coating your truffles in liquid, tempered chocolate, check out David Leibovitz's masterful post on the how-to/why-to behind tempering here.
Adapted from the Chestnut Herbs Blog
You will need a pie pan, parchment paper, a whisk, a double boiler (or glass bowl over hot water), strainer, and a fork (for dipping the ganache in liquid chocolate, though you can use your fingers).
1 cup heavy coconut cream
1/3 cup honey (or agave)
11 ounces of 70% chocolate (or darker)
1/2 cup lavender buds
5 tablespoons coconut oil
1 cup melted 70% or darker chocolate, for enrobing the truffles.
1/4 cup cacao powder, or a handful of lavender buds for decoration
Bring the coconut cream to a simmer, and then cut off the heat. Mix the lavender buds in with the hot cream. Let sit for 15 - 30 minutes (the longer you steep it the stronger the floral flavor). Strain out the buds, and press out any extra cream from the herbs.
Bring the coconut cream back to a simmer, and cut off heat. Add honey, coconut oil, and chocolate. Stir to melt the chocolate completely. Pour the ganache into a pie pan, and cool for 30 minutes in your refrigerator. Once the ganache is solid enough to be scooped and rolled into balls, remove it from the fridge.
Coat palms in cocoa powder. Using a tablespoon, scoop out the ganache into 1.5 oz balls, rolling the ganache in your hands to form it into shape. Keep powdering your hands with cocoa as you form the truffles, to keep the ganache from melting and sticking to your skin. Place truffles on parchment paper, and set aside.
If you would prefer to skip the enrobing method, simply roll the ganache in cocoa powder, and enjoy! These make lovely gifts, as well.