There’s nothing modest about the eating going down around here. The kitchen island is stacked with treats. The fridges are filled with wine, salumi, and cheese. There are boxes of handmade cookies, individually wrapped torrone, and colourful macarons. A loaf of the most gorgeous bread is balanced on top of the toaster – there’s no room left on the counter beside the honeys, and the nuts, and the cartons of very cher crackers. It’s no surprise to anyone that Christmas is my favourite time of year – all of this would, under normal circumstances, be completely unreasonable but we’re expecting company!
Every year, my dad passes through Toronto on his way somewhere new for a couple of weeks over the holiday. With so little time to spend together, we need to do things right. He came for dinner last Saturday and we ate a salad of cool fennel with a ransom of Reggiano, then velvety moussaka topped with deeply browned goat’s milk and yogurt custard, a box of exquisite little eclairs and chocolate bread pudding too. We finished with a bottle of insanely good Tokaji for dessert.
Some of the bounty is for a night with my two best pals. One of them, in recent years, stopped returning home to Sault Ste. Marie for Christmas. Instead, he stays here in the city and sends packages back home to his family. The other left Toronto a decade ago to work in New York. Every Christmas, he visits his mother in Northern Ontario but bookends his trip with stops in Toronto to visit as many of his old friends as he can before returning home. Orphans of sorts, I feel a certain responsibilty to ensure they both have a lovely Christmas. Most of the wine is for them. And the crackers. The Pest dell’Etna, the n’duja, the turmeric pickled radishes, the box of cookies from Forno Cultura – all for them.
Of course the boxes of chocolates are for my mom. She’s here for a few days and is a rabid chocolate fiend – Douglas laughed at me when I told him we had to stop at Soma, that my mom needed chocolate. She’s just arrived and we’ve already eaten 19 truffles. I hardly see the humor in it all. We’re going to run out by the time the shop is closed for their Christmas break!
Thank God I made a double batch of bittersweet orange chocolate truffle spread for Christmas morning. My mom needs some spoiling – she’s had a tough year. And I’d hate it if she had to eat chocolate alone so I made lots. It’s the least I could do for her.
- 170 g jar Devon Double Cream
- 3 tbsp (45 mL) sugar
- 1 shot espresso, short and strong
- Zest from 2 medium oranges, a generous 3 tbsp (45 mL)
- 6 oz (175 g) good quality dark, bitter chocolate, chopped
- 2 tbsp (30 mL) unsalted butter, cut into cubes
- Melt double cream in a small pot over medium heat; stir in, sugar and espresso. Bring to a boil, remove from heat and stir in orange zest; let stand for 10 minutes.
- Pour through a fine mesh sieve set over a medium bowl; add chocolate and stir until melted. Stir in butter until no visible lumps remain. Cover and leave at cool room temperature overnight. [Spread will keep at room temperature for up to a day after which it should be refrigerated. Refrigerated spread will keep for about 10 days and should be returned to room temperature before using.]
- over a slice of toasted sourdough
- stuffed French toast
- gently melt and use as a fondue
- use it to stuff little yeast doughnuts