“Izmila Corvaleur was nearly of a size with Jean, wide and florid, prodigiously rounded in every place a woman could be round. She was undeniably attractive, but the intelligence that shone out of her eyes was sharp and contemptuous. In her Locke recognized a contained pugnacity akin to that of a street brawler – a honed appetite for hard contests. Corvaleur nibbled constantly from a silver-gilded box of cherries coated in powdered chocolate, sucking her fingers loudly after each one. Her own strat peti, of course.”
–Red Seas under Red Skies, by Scott Lynch
Yep. Scott Lynch has done it again.
I personally liked the balsamic version of this recipe the best. I tried red wine, brandy, and sherry, also, but the balsamic really brought out the flavor of the cherries. Also, I think a non-alcoholic set of truffles is more appropriate to the scene in the book. I mean, would taking an alcoholic snack to a drinking game make sense?
However, to be scientific about it, I dutifully tried all the other versions. Of the boozy truffles, I like the red wine. The brandy was too strong for me, the alcohol overpowering the cherry. A lot of folks like this pairing, though, so I recommend trying several versions to see what you like best. A pinch of spice in the cocoa can also tweak them into something rather unique.
In any case, the truffles are remarkably simple to make, and decadently rewarding when you do. The marinated cherries burst when you bite into them, and the chocolate-fruit flavor is a classic pairing for a good reason. The chocolate truffle coating has a rich and silky texture that will melt in your mouth. Delicious as they were, I couldn’t eat more than about six of them in one sitting, but then, I’m no Madam Corvaleur.
I also had much more ambitious ideas for the photo above, but I’ll probably have to wait until someone makes me a Carousel Hazard set. Which I would love, by the way. Just saying… ;)
Chocolate-covered Cherry Truffles Recipe
Soaking Cherries/Truffle Mixture: sits overnight Prep: 30 minutes
Makes about 20 truffles
- 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar, or sweet red wine
- 30 dried cherries
- 4 oz. bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
- 1/3 cup heavy whipping cream
- 3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa
- a pinch of mahlep (optional)
Soak the cherries in the balsamic overnight, or for a minimum of 8 hours.
In a medium saucepan, bring the cream to a simmer over medium heat. Turn off heat, and pour in the chopped chocolate. Stir until the chocolate is melted, and the whole mixture is smooth. Let cool overnight.
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper, or wax paper. Scrape out a spoonful of the truffle mixture, flatten, and shape around a cherry. Roll in cocoa, and set aside. If you like, you can combine a bit of mahlep or other spice with the cocoa; this will give the truffles a bit of extra, exotic kick.