Add these delicious truffles to your holiday baking list.
These delicious truffle temptations are as tasty as they are pretty.
During the holidays, sometimes the chances of receiving a gift are directly related to the desirability of the gift itself. For example, when you whip up a batch of these delicious truffles – ostensibly for your co-workers, say – you’ll find they’re so good that you’ll have eaten them all before your officemates ever receive them. Or, in other words, one for you, three for me....
1 Fill a medium saucepan one-third full of water and bring to a simmer over medium-high heat. Place the chocolate in a large heatproof bowl; set aside. While the water is coming to a simmer, place the cream in a small saucepan and bring to a gentle boil. Remove the cream from the heat and pour over the chocolate, stirring to combine.
2 Place the heatproof bowl over the saucepan of simmering water, making sure the water doesn’t touch the bottom of the bowl. Gently stir the chocolate mixture with a spoon until the chocolate is melted and the mixture is smooth; remove from the heat. Line a 9" square baking pan with parchment paper, allowing the edges to hang over the sides of the pan. Pour the chocolate mixture into the pan, spreading it evenly.
3 Mentally divide the chocolate into quarters. Top each quarter with a different topping; swirl each quarter with the tip of a knife to slightly incorporate the topping. Place the pan in the refrigerator and chill until the chocolate is set, at least 2 hours.
4 Remove the pan from the fridge and let stand at room temperature for 10 minutes. Lift the parchment paper out of the pan, moving the chocolate slab onto a cutting board.
5 Dust the pieces with cocoa powder before serving. The truffles can be stored in the refrigerator in an airtight container for up to 1 week.
6 Using a sharp thin knife, cut the slab into 36 equal pieces.
*Note: To make the sugared herbs, place 2 sprigs fresh thyme and 2 sprigs fresh rosemary on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet; brush with 2 tablespoons egg white. Sprinkle with 1/2 cup superfine sugar and let stand for 30 minutes to 1 hour to dry before using.
Serves 36 truffles.
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Buying guide: The truth about thread count
Is there anything better than sliding into a bed laden with good quality sheets? At the end of the day, I can't wait to stretch out under my fresh, soft covers and nestle my face into a good cotton-covered pillow. We spend a third of our lives in bed so quality sheets are key, but how do you get quality for your money? There's no doubt that most consumers believe the higher the thread count, the better the quality, but this isn't entirely true. With the help and expertise of Joanna Goodman, owner of Au Lit Fine Linens, we expose the truth about thread count and what it takes to find quality bed sheets.
What is thread count, really?
Simply put, thread count is the number of threads woven into one square inch of fabric. This number is based on the threads woven horizontally ("weft") and vertically ("warp"). Extra threads can also be woven into the weft threads to increase the thread count. These added threads are called "picks" and are added in the overall count, which is how some sheets end up having thread counts in the thousands. This is why the idea that high counts equal better quality isn't really accurate. Consider this: Joanna says most weavers will say the maximum number of threads that can be woven into one square inch of fabric is 500 to 600. Though the number is arguable and, according to Joanna, "depends on the mill you deal with," it gives you an idea of where the line is between single-ply, unpicked weaves and ones that add threads here and there to bump up the count.
What to look for when buying sheets
Joanna lists three things to look for on the label: if it's Egyptian cotton, where it's woven and, lastly, the thread count. While thread count is a bit misunderstood, the buzz around Egyptian cotton is true. "The very best cotton in the world is grown in Egypt. So Egyptian cotton will be of a better quality," Joanna says. She also recommends pima cotton, which is grown in America, "though not quite as exceptional as Egyptian." When it comes to weaving, however, she swears by the Italians as being the "master weavers of the world" due to their "long tradition of weaving" and use of the best Egyptian cotton. Be sure the label says 100% or pure Egyptian cotton though, otherwise it may only contain a small percentage of the good stuff. As for the thread count, look for a minimum of 200. From there, it's all about preference!
What to avoid when buying sheets
Joanna's one key piece of advice is to watch out for extremely low priced, high thread count sheet sets. A complete sheet set with a high thread count for $100 or less is probably not the dream bargain you think it is. As Joanna believes, "you always get what you pay for." The price tag for bed linens will vary depending on the sheet size and what items you're buying, such as a duvet cover, sheet sets, or pillowcases. "A superior quality 200 thread count queen set (including flat, fitted, two pillowcases), made of Egyptian cotton and woven in Europe, could retail reasonably for about $150-$250," says Joanna.
What do you prefer?
After going through the quality checklist, go with what feels best for you. If you're looking for a durable linen, Joanna recommends any percale from thread count 200 to 800. Percale is any cotton woven with a 200 thread count or higher and will be more durable than a cotton satin of the same thread count. It's also less likely to pill than cotton satin because it has a denser weave. Love the feel of a cotton button down shirt? Joanna advises a crisp, dense 200 thread count percale. Prefer a silkier sheet? Go for a 300 to 600 cotton satin. If you want lighter sheets, Joanna says, a 400 thread count sheet can be soft and light, while an 800 percale would be soft and dense. The higher the thread count, the more likely multiple-ply thread is used or picks are added, making the fabric denser and heavier.
Now you know that quality is not just about the number, so don't let numbers rule your bed! Remember what to look for on the label and be wary of too-low prices for supposedly high quality items. Beyond that, go with what you prefer. Get a good feel of the sheets before buying. Whether you're unzipping the packaging or lying down on a display bed, make sure the fabric feels good against your skin and soon you'll be having sweet dreams!
Find out how to keep your new linens crisp and clean with our tips to whiter-than-white sheets.
Get your home ready for the holiday season with these helpful tips & tricks.
The holiday hustle can make the season seem daunting. The Moody family has some tips on how to make it exciting once again.
When November hits, the pressure is on for any busy family. The real challenge, however, is keeping the holidays as fun and stress-free as possible. Despite hectic careers, hockey tournaments, theatre performances and family gatherings, Surrey, B.C., designer Lisa Moody of Grapevine Designs tackles this feat with panache, along with her husband, Ron, and their kids, Svea, 14, Eston, 12, and Eli, 9. Here, we get a glimpse into their stylish 6,900 sq. ft. home, plus a few of the festive traditions that make Christmas especially merry for the Moody clan.
Homeowner and designer Lisa Moody made this advent calendar garland 10 years ago by combining her kids’ stray socks with some Christmas-themed ones bought on sale after the holidays.
“There will be a day when I’ll have a formal Christmas tree,” says Lisa with a laugh. But when three kids are contributing to the scheme, bright, fun colours and childhood mementoes reign for now.
“We decorate our faux tree at the end of November. It’s nice to get the decorating done early so we can enjoy the season longer.”
The kids (from left), Svea, Eli and Eston, hang out with Lisa (far right) and enjoy Christmas treats in the dining area. The simple modern table and chairs are durable, practical choices for family mealtime.
Lisa packages presents using plain white kraft paper jazzed up with colourful and patterned ribbons as well as left over scraps of holiday gift wrap.
The fireplace, which has a soaring marble-clad surround, is a focal point for the family during the holidays. Can you spot the Elf on the Shelf? It sits in one of the the built-in maple cubbies and is the origin of many hilarious holiday shenanigans.
The Moody home is the place for family parties during the holidays, and the island in the kitchen, with its yellow wooden stools, is where everyone gathers.
“When a big dinner party seems too overwhelming, we’ll have friends over for cocktails and snacks by the fire.”
Lisa hosts a Christmas party for the kids and their friends. This year, they’re decorating gingerbread cookies and enjoying hot chocolate in festive mugs with marshmallows, candy canes and chocolate chips.