A few years ago I took a class at work taught by one of the executive chefs for the catering company that runs my employer’s cafeteria. It was all about making chocolates. The chef at one point off-handedly suggested everyone try the truffles from La Maison du Chocolat at some point in their lives. I considered this, filed the information away, and then kind of forgot about it until many months later, when we were looking for some special, extravagant way to celebrate the eagerly-anticipated start of the 2006 NHL playoffs. “I know!” I announced, as the thought came to me like a bolt out of the blue, “Let’s order some fancy chocolates!”
It should be noted that we had, immediately after I took that fateful chocolates class, sent a box of these mixed truffles to our chocoholic grandmother, who reported back that she didn’t much care for them because they weren’t “normal” enough for her. So we were a little wary when the gorgeous brown box arrived on our doorstep — how not normal could they be? It turns out they are extravagantly not normal. Profoundly not normal. Mind-blowingly not normal.
Because they are the most delicious foodstuff on Earth.
You can read more about what infusions come in this box of magical deliciousness at La Maison du Chocolat’s website; it’s hard to say which is my favorite. Is it the liquidy, caramelized butter one, so smooth, silky, rich and exquisite that it seems insulting to call it a candy? Or is it the frothy coffee mousse? Maybe it’s the three-citrus ganache wafer, with the uncommon and staggering grapefruit-chocolate combination? Or the tea-flavored ganache, which breaks from the ubiquity of banal Earl Grey infusions by adding a smoky hint of Lapsang Suochon to compliment the dark chocolate couverture? Or maybe it’s the straight-up plain chocolate ganache, because seriously, the chocolate itself, even without the genius infusions and flavorings, is probably the purest embodiment of “delicious” in the entire edible cannon. Then you add to that things like cinnamon, honey or fennel infusions, hazelnut and almond concoctions that make us actually like nuts in our chocolate, or the gianduja praline that redefines the concept of smoothness. And you end up with a box of pure heaven.
We now commemorate the three major hockey holidays with a box of these: Opening Night, the All-Star Break and the start of the Playoffs. (For Christmas we order a box of the champagne truffles, but that’s a different story altogether.) We’re kind of becoming old hands at this assortment now, and don’t have to have the “guided eats” we used to, where we’d get out the little “what these chocolates all are” pamphlet that comes in the box and work our way through the flavors together. But while we might be more familiar with it now, and perhaps a little better-versed in which truffle has which flavor waiting inside it, we are by no means taking them for granted. Because really, what sight is sweeter than this: a platter of fine chocolates and a fresh schedule for a new, full hockey season?