Guest Author - Chidori Phillips
The Japanese today celebrate Valentinefs Day, just as they have adopted other Western practices, but do so in a slightly different way. On Valentinefs Day, women buy and present all the men in their lives with chocolate gifts. Not just lovers, but their male bosses, co-workers, friends and family, too. Giri-choco, or obligation chocolate, is the type of chocolate given to men who are not love interests and usually are of lesser price and quality while honmei-choco is reserved for onefs true Valentine. Chocolate companies create elaborately packaged and pricey chocolate gifts so females who are typically reserved in expressing their love can do so freely on this day--with chocolate.
Men do not give women anything on Valentinefs Day but wait for a later holiday called White Day on March 14th, a tradition started by Japanese chocolate companies so they can sell more of their wares.
You can order fine quality chocolates online for the special men in your life but it might be even better to make them yourself. Create them with your own hands, and infuse them with your loving spirit.
Wasabi is a root vegetable similar to horseradish. It has a green tint and a highly potent bite with a mustard-like flavor. Often served with sushi, wasabi is blended with soy sauce and used a dipping condiment. To prepare wasabi from a fresh root, simply grate it with a fine-toothed metal grater or oroshigane. Japanese graters have smaller spikes on their graters that produce a more finely ground product than those ground on Western-type graters. Traditionally, dried shark skin was used for grinding wasabi. If you use the powdered form, slowly blend a little powder (about 2 tsp.) with water (1 tsp.) until the mixture is smooth. You can add more or less water, depending on the consistency and potency desired. Wasabi also comes prepared in tubes and you can squeeze out the amount needed without any further fuss but check the labels because many wasabi products are made from blends of Western horseradish, mustard and food coloring rather an pure wasabi.
Wasabi Chocolate Truffles
2 Tbsp. prepared Japanese wasabi, divided use
12 oz. premium dark or semi-sweet chocolate such as Guittard*
1/3 cup heavy cream
1 tsp. vanilla
1 tsp. butter
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 Tbsp. shortening
Place 1 teaspoon of prepared wasabi in a small bowl and slowly blend in the heavy cream until smooth. Pour this into the top of a double boiler and heat over medium-low flame. Chop chocolate into small pieces and add to the cream mixture. Stir constantly until chocolate is melted. Remove from heat. Add vanilla and butter. Stir until blended.
Allow this mixture to set in the refrigerator for about three hours. Using a small melon ball scoop, form 1h balls. Place them on a parchment or waxed paper-lined cookie sheet and refrigerate for another hour.
In the top of a double boiler, melt the chocolate chips while stirring. Blend in the shortening. Take the truffle balls out of the refrigerator. Using a chocolate dipping fork or your hands, dip each truffle into the melted chocolate, letting the excess drip back into the double boiler. Place the dipped truffles back onto the parchment or waxed paper-lined cookie sheet and allow to set.
Using the flat end of a toothpick, dab a tiny amount of prepared wasabi paste onto the top center of each chocolate-dipped truffle. Package each wasabi truffle in its own candy paper cup.
*You can choose to use a dark chocolate if you prefer a deep flavor or semi-sweet chocolate if you like a sweeter truffle.