Dark Chocolate Truffles

Chocolate truffles are an easy dessert to make. You only need two ingredients for the truffle base and one ingredient for rolling the truffle. Recently, I made chocolate truffles for a friend. It had been almost a year since I made them, so I was a little anxious about how they were going to turn out. Also, chocolate and cream are expensive in Japan, so I couldn’t mess them up. Luckily, they turned out great!

During the truffle making process, I had a few less than perfect spheres. Here are some tips to creating perfect, or almost perfect, chocolate truffles.
1. Before rolling, set the chocolate out for a couple of minutes. This will allow you to roll them properly.
2. Don’t skip the cocoa powder! Place a small amount of cocoa powder in the palm of your hand before rolling.
3. Choose your toppings wisely. I suggest sticking with colorful powders, such as matcha or white chocolate powder, or solids, such as chocolate crunchies.

Making truffles can be therapeutic. If you mess up a few, try to stay positive, or just eat the ones that look a little lopsided. It can be your little secret.

Dark Chocolate Truffles
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Dark Chocolate Truffles
Print Recipe
  • 1 pound dark chocolate 480 grams of dark chocolate
  • 1 cup heavy cream 8 oz.
  • 1 cup dark cocoa powder 128 grams
Making the ganache
  1. First, chop the chocolate into small pieces. Place the pieces into a heat resistant bowl.
  2. Next, on medium heat, bring the cream to a boil. One the cream begins to bubble, remove it from the burner.
  3. Pour about half of the cream onto the chocolate. Vigorously whisk the chocolate until half of it is melted. Then, pour the rest of the cream onto the chocolate and continue to whisk it until all of the chocolate is melted. This process can take about two minutes, depending on how quickly you are whisking.
  4. Next, cover your bowl of ganache with plastic wrap and place it in the refrigerator for about an hour. The ganache should be firm but not hard.
Shaping the truffles
  1. To shape the truffles you will need a small spoon and cocoa powder. Place the cocoa powder on a plate or parchment paper. Place the other toppings on separate plates or papers.
  2. Sprinkle cocoa powder in the palms of both hands. Take one tablespoon of gnache and roll it in your hands until a ball shape is formed. Finally, sprinkle it with a little extra cocoa powder or roll it in chocolate crunchies.
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Matcha and Chocolate Cake with Buttercream Roses

A few weeks ago, I saw a post on Twitter by food blogger, Molly Yeh, about her Rose Rose Cake. The cake looked beautiful and I knew I wanted to try to make it. I had been wanting to make something that was challenging and that I could experiment with color.

It took a full day to make the cake. That was shorter than I expected because originally I thought it would take two days. First, I made the Matcha Chocolate Cake. I needed to make it ahead of time to allow enough time for it to cool. Then, I made the buttercream. In order to make the pink and orange frostings, I referred to this chart. The chart was helpful because I don’t have enough experience mixing colors, and I hate when frostings have too much food coloring. I think it tastes bad. After making the frostings, I turned the air conditioner on in my living room in order to keep the frosting from melting while I worked with it.

In Molly Yeh’s post, she mentions that she used a Wilton Flower Nail Decorating tool. I didn’t have that and I wasn’t going to go look for one, so, instead, I used a pizza saver with two of the legs cut off. I still went through the process of attaching a small square of parchment paper to the top of the pizza saver and creating the roses that way. Honestly, the roses weren’t that hard to make using the pizza saver. You just have to be patient and practice. My first couple of flowers looked a little rough, but by the fifth one, I had gotten the hang of it. Also, if you mess up, you can take the frosting off of the parchment paper and place it back in the bowl.

Overall, making the cake was fun and I was able to catch up on my shows. I’ll be making a similar cake soon, and I hope to post the recipe for the cake and the frosting.

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An Inviting Coffee Shop in Nanjing, China

China is best known for its tea, but in recent years, a coffee culture has developed in cities both small and large. Most of the coffee that is consumed, is mainly by young professionals working and living in major cities, such as Shanghai and Beijing. However, some of the major stores, such as Starbucks, are viewed differently here than they are in the U.S. Starbucks is popular, but smaller shops owned by young entrepreneurs are paving the way for coffee shops.

Buying coffee in Eastern China can vary from drink stands to full-blown cafes. The major difference between them is the atmosphere and the convenience. A drink stand can run the same amount that you would pay in a regular coffee shop, and you receive the same quality, if not better, of coffee. These drink stands

One coffee shop that I frequent is called Shawn’s Coffee. The cafe is hidden beside a busy mall, but the bright yellow sign invites you as you pass by. When you enter through the black picket fence, you usually see Shawn making drinks or chatting with friends. There are always customers relaxing by themselves or with others. At night, candles flicker on the patio while conversation and laughter fill the air. Upon entering the cafe, you see Shawn’s certificates hanging on the wall, random pieces of coffee equipment and succulents placed throughout the shop.

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I had the opportunity to talk to Shawn and ask him why he opened his coffee shop and what inspires him to make his coffee. He told me that he wanted to create a cafe that made Western style coffee but was tailored to meet Chinese standards. To achieve this, he studied with the SCAE ( Specialty Coffee Association of Europe) for seven years and researched online. Through practice and education, he learned how to craft signature drinks, roast coffee beans and create latte art.

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Shawn’s coffee is very popular in the Longjiang district 龙江小区 of Nanjing. Due to his popularity, I wanted to know whether or not he could see his coffee shop becoming a chain. He informed me that if he ever decided to open other locations, he would want them to be in China. Shawn wants to keep the authenticity of his coffee shop and introduce coffee to other Chinese consumers.

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Coffee is becoming more popular in Eastern China. There are a variety of cafes, both franchised and not franchised, with different drinks to appeal to local tastes. Thanks to small business owners like Shawn, both Chinese and Western consumers are able to enjoy quality coffee.

If you are ever in Nanjing, check out Shawn’s Coffee. His shop is located at the intersection of 横六路 heng liu lu (6th Cross Rd.) and 龙园西路 longyuan xi lu.

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A Guide to Buying Makeup for Darker Skin in East Asia

Being black in China has been difficult at times, however, the most difficult thing has been buying makeup, skin and hair care products. I have darker skin and I cannot find any, foundation, concealer or nude lipstick in China. There are people who sell makeup for darker skin in China. Usually, it’s through a seller who gets small shipments of it imported. I have not tried that, but I also don’t mind paying an extra fee to guarantee that I’m getting exactly what I want.

Before moving to East Asia, if you can, I suggest buying your makeup right before you leave. Makeup products can last anywhere from six to twenty-four months. If you’re like me and forgot to buy makeup for your second year in East Asia, here is a small guide I created to help black people and people with darker skin tones buy makeup in East Asia.

Buying Products In-Store
Lipsticks, lip glosses and eye shadows can be easily bought in East Asia, especially at Sephora. Most lipsticks are shades of pink or orange, but you can find nice, bright shades of eye shadow and some that blend well with darker skin tones. The makeup at Sephora in China is a little more expensive than in the U.S, but the products I’ve listed below are, at most, ten dollars more than they are in the U.S.
Eye Shadow Pencils:Kaki, Purple, Brown, Call Girl
Kiss Me Balm in Melon Sorbet
– Colorguard Eyeshadow Primer- I couldn’t find the link, so I’m not sure if they sell it in the U.S.
Full Effect Extreme Action Mascara:Blue

Etude House
I have not bought products from Etude House, but a friend of mine, who is a black woman, has and is very pleased with their products. She has purchased eye shadow, mascara and a lip liner from Etude House.

Buying Products Online
e.l.f Cosmetics
If you don’t have a Sephora or an Etude House near you, it’s pretty easy to buy makeup online. My friend who lives in Japan uses Amazon to buy the majority of her makeup. I have not had any luck with Amazon China; I mainly use it to compare prices of imported goods. I only have experience buying cosmetics through e.l.f Cosmetics and I am quite pleased with my order. The products shipped through Borderfree.com and this service works with different cosmetic and clothing companies.
lfcosmetics.com/p/complete-coverage-concealer” target=”_blank”>Complete Coverage Concealer,Dark,$6.00
Perfect Finish HD Powder,Sheer, $12.00
Mineral Infused Face Primer,Brightening Lavender, $12.00
Volumizing & Defining Mascara,Black, $4.00
Moisturizing Lipstick,Wine Tour, $6.00
Moisturizing Lipstick,Bourdeaux Beauty, $6.00
Aqua Beauty Radiant Gel Lip Stain,Rouge Radiance, $8.00
– These prices are a few dollars more than they are in the U.S, but they are cheaper than the makeup at Sephora China.

I hope this will help other people buy makeup. If know you of any makeup brands that ship to East Asia, feel free to share them in the comment section below.

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