Something New for Thanksgiving
After a week of November gray, here comes the other side of autumn. Days are full of bright sunrises, abundant sunshine, clear blue skies and stunning sunsets. It’s cold, but with the light, I don’t feel it in quite the same way. In a protected spot, I soak in all the rays I can get, hoping to get the Vitamin D my body craves. It changes my mood and turns me around and, yes, I have more energy.
I again host Thanksgiving for our family this year. I have my favorite go tos: an orange, bourbon and maple syrup marinade for the turkey that grew up on the west side of town, my mother-in-law’s recipe for sweet potato croquettes (which I shared in this column last week) and a delicious pumpkin dessert (this year’s version is the best). I am definitely a traditionalist when it comes to creating these gatherings. I bring out my mother’s candleholders, make sure I have a fresh bouquet from Flowers by Phoebe, and make and serve food that are synonymous with Thanksgiving. But there is always a part of me that is ready for change.
If I keep only to the tried and true, I don’t experience the whole world. And, since change moves ever onward, I try to hang on to its apron strings and go along for the ride. It doesn’t mean that I let go of the old. It means that I use the old to weigh the new. If the new can carry its own weight, then I jump on, and keep the old as a signpost.
O.K. That’s not at all what went through my head when I saw the recipe for Pecan Pie Truffles. Mostly, I love pecan pie and imagining it in a small intense nugget of goodness made the recipe alluring. So I opted for change and made the truffles instead of the pecan pie. In the process, I learned some new skills: how to roll balls evenly, how to temper chocolate, how to dip the balls in chocolate, how to make sugared cranberries. And as is often the case, the new was spectacular. Maybe partially because it is new but also because it stands on its own against the traditionalism of pecan pie.
When I work with new recipes, I often judge them according to flavor but I also give them high marks if they pass my visual test. When food is delicious and beautiful, it makes me stop in my tracks and truly enjoy it. Here, change came as a positive, as it often does. But don’t worry, I will still make a pecan pie every now and then. Here is the recipe for those truffles if you are ready for a little change!
Pecan Pie Truffles
2 ½ c. pecans, toasted and crushed
1 c. graham crackers, crushed
3 T. butter, softened
1 c. brown sugar
2 T. honey
3 T. Bourbon
1 t. pure vanilla extract
6 oz. very good dark chocolate plus a cup of dark chocolate chips
Mix all the ingredients except the chocolate in a bowl. Form into balls the size of walnuts. Place on a pan covered with parchment paper. Refrigerate overnight.
Melt the 6 oz. of chocolate in a double boiler until it reaches 115 degrees. Remove from heat and stir in the dark chocolate chips a tiny bit at a time, until the temperature cools down to 90 degrees. With a two pronged fork, roll the balls in the chocolate to cover. Place back on the parchment paper and let harden. Keep refrigerated. Remove from the fridge about fifteen minutes before ready to serve.