Wednesday, December 19

A Quiet Christmas

The events of last week in Newtown, Connecticut have left us, as a nation, reeling in gut-wrenching sorrow, hot anger, and collective, stunned shock.  That something so horrific could happen to the vulnerable and most innocent of our society is simply nauseating.  I've spent the week grieving with silent tears for those who were lost that terrible morning.  Celebrating Christmas is farthest from my mind.  In fact, I haven't felt like doing much of anything, so I find myself staring at Pinterest for hours with indifference, marveling at the triviality of it all in the face of such tragedy.  The glittery lights, the tinseled trees, the bright packages wrapped in frivolous bows all seem so utterly inconsequential - I have half a mind to let the holiday slip quietly by without notice . . .

But I have children in whom the vivid magic of Christmas is still very much alive.  I see it sparkling in their bright eyes like the sun rise over a blanket of fresh, Colorado snow and, though my eyes have grown dim and clouded with tears, I must keep the season alive for their sake. 

So . . .  I'm back in the kitchen, busying myself with the comforting rhythm of holiday baking.  We have several holiday parties coming, so I need to have safe, nut-free cookies and sweets for Eve to bring along.  Not to mention that Santa, as my children recently informed me, would be devastated if he doesn't find a treat waiting for him by the fireplace on Christmas Eve.

I make truffles every year.  It's a Christmas tradition that I always look forward to.  They're so decadent and festive, and there's something so calming in stirring the luscious chocolate into the smooth, ivory cream.  Watching it melt together into a rich, velvety elixir, smooth as glass.  The fragrance of chocolate and vanilla envelope me in a blanket of warmth, and while it won't remove the grief, it does provide a measure of comfort in the darkest of times.  That's all anyone can ask for now - is it not?

As for Christmas this year, I will spend it quietly celebrating with those who are most dear to me, reflecting on the real reason for the season:  a Holy Baby, born to make a path for each and every one of those precious, murdered children into a joyous eternity.

To those who lost loved ones on that tragic day I extend my deepest and most sincere condolences.  May the Light of Christmas cut through the dark despair and shine with bright hope on your family this year.

I'll leave you with the recipe for my Chocolate Cherry Truffles, dedicated to twenty precious children and six adults who will forever be known as heroes. 

Christmas Blessings to you and yours.

Chocolate Cherry Truffles

1/2 cup heavy cream
2 tsp caster sugar
1/4 cup dried cherries
6 oz good, nut-free semisweet chocolate (54% cocoa)
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
Cocoa powder and icing sugar for dusting

Finely chop the chocolate and set aside.  Finely chop the cherries and toss with one teaspoon of cocoa powder and set aside.  In a medium sauce pan heat the cream and sugar together over medium heat, stirring gently until the sugar dissolves and the cream just starts to bubble.  Remove from the heat and whisk in the chocolate and vanilla.  Whisk until the chocolate is melted and the mixture is smooth and shiny.  Stir in the chopped cherries.  Cover the pot and chill in the refrigerator for 45 - 50 minutes.

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.  When the mixture has chilled scoop heaping teaspoon-sized dollops onto the parchment paper.  You should be able to make about 20 dollops.  Place the baking sheet in the refrigerator to chill for another 15 - 20 minutes. 

When the chocolate is firm, roll each dollop into a ball and then roll in cocoa powder.  Work fast, as they will start to melt almost immediately.  Place the truffles back on the baking sheet and refrigerate until chilled through.  Just before serving, dust with icing sugar.

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