A little more than a month ago, shortly after I got back from Brazil, I was on the road (literally this time) once again, to visit Guayaquil and Salinas with my host parents. The thing about driving through the mountains in Ecuador is that the highways are built into the slopes of the Andes. Two lane, right on the edge, hundreds of feet up, with crazy curves and crazy drivers passing all the cars. The view is amazing but the ride is terrifying.
In Guayaquil we walked the Malecón, a pathway along the riverfront. See that photo three up? The two below it are taken from the top of that lighthouse. Salinas was crazy crowded due to it being vacation for Carnaval (I even got sprayed with colored foam in the streets), so we went to the beach just for a short while to ride jet skis (my very first time!), then headed to La Chocolatera and afterwards Punta Carnero, which was much less crowded and where we finally wave jumped in the Pacific.
I’ve wanted to take a Spanish course since I arrived, but never quite managed them while living with my first host family, due to various reasons. But right after school vacations ended I began taking classes twice a week (getting out of regular high school AND improving my horrible Spanish grammar? Sounds all right to me). I feel like there’s this perception in the United States that Spanish is an easy language to learn. I don’t know where that came from, because does a language that has FOURTEEN verb tenses (and therefore different conjugations for each tense, and the same verb that is regular in one tense is irregular in another) sound easy to you? So far I’ve kindaaaa got a handle on three-four of those tenses, but by the time I fly home in June I’m hoping to be familiar enough with all the use them correctly when speaking (although that might just be wishful thinking).
The same week I started Spanish courses I also took my very first yoga class, which is something I’ve wanted to do for years now but just never got around to. It was…hard. Really hard. But if you’re naturally flexible and have been working out more than just occasionally for the last six months you might have an easier time than I did.
Last Wednesday I wasn’t able to make Spanish classes or yoga, for a kind-of special reason. The president of Rotary International (the organization that sponsors my exchange program) came to Ecuador! To anyone not involved with Rotary this might be nothing, but for us this is kinda a big deal. All exchange students living in the mountains came to Quito to meet him (seeing friends I haven’t seen for months was probably the best thing about that day). There are pictures but they are unflattering to the extreme.
So this recipe comes from the fact that I was trying to develop a vegan version of brigadiero (inspired by my trip to Brazil), and although that didn’t exactly work, I wouldn’t say I lost out because I got these instead. And who would ever say no to chocolate truffles?
DARK CHOCOLATE CHEESECAKE TRUFFLES
For the truffles:
- 1 1/2 cups condensed coconut milk
- 6 tbsp unsweetened cocoa/cacao powder
For the coating:
- approximately 1/4 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
- approximately 12-15 walnuts, finely chopped
To make the truffles, combine the condensed coconut milk and cocoa powder in a saucepan. Place on medium high heat, stirring constantly for approximately 8 minutes until the mixture starts bubbling (you’ll have to stop stirring for a second to notice this, but it will start bubbling immediately) and you can drag the spoon down the center of the pan and see the bottom. Pour into a ceramic/glass bowl, let cool for about 20 minutes, then refrigerate for three hours before rolling into balls. Making the truffles will work best if your hands are cold but dry. Run them under cold water for 30 seconds before drying them, then using a soup spoon scoop out the mixture and roll into balls between the palms of your hands (if you have an ice cream scoop it might help). If you need to rinse your hands again do so, but make sure they are completely dry before touching the chocolate mixture.
After you’ve rolled out all the truffles, roll half in the unsweetened, shredded coconut and the other half in the chopped walnuts. Store covered in the fridge. Makes 15-18 truffles.
Notes: The cheesecake part of the name comes from the fact that I think these taste a bit like a version of a vegan chocolate cheesecake I used to make. Even if you don’t agree, they’re still pretty kick ass. If you have to refrigerate these longer than 3 hours before you actually make the truffles, just take them out of the fridge 2-3 hours before you plan to roll them into balls. Or you could try microwaving the bowl in 10 second intervals, but I haven’t done this. Basically, you want the consistency to be mostly solid but partially pliable.
Also, Happy (belated) St. Patrick’s Day! A large portion of my heritage is Irish and my family likes to emphasize that. I’m working on a gluten free, vegan adaptation of my dad’s traditional Irish soda bread, but Ecuadorians are not the slightest bit Irish and so I didn’t realize the holiday was coming up in time to have it ready to post. It’ll be up once its perfected, but that will take a while.