It’s that time of the year again, Halloween, a time when all the weird creatures lurking within us come out, although not necessarily all the way into the light, some of us in outrageous disguise, too many of us as we normally are, strange in our own ways, and now out to party and to give one another unexpected gifts, sometimes tricks, depending on our app hookups, but most often treats, especially to kids.
We’re not going to go into the tricks here, save to say that cleaning up the toilet papering of the tree in my yard got to be an annual pain, which is part of why I am now a renter in an apartment complex near downtown. The obvious tradeoff, however, is that I now don’t get to answer the front door to urchins with pillowcases open to receive the largesse they expect I would ritually distribute to them.
But I buy some treats anyway, and not that usual stuff like mass-produced candy corn or bite-sized chocolate bars, in different variations all made by the same general food companies. No. I get myself some of those high-falutin’ chocolate balls, the ones made with a three-quarters cocoa filling encased in a dark chocolate shell, the ones distributed by the company that makes them, a firm originally from Switzerland and now with a branch in New Hampshire, the ones they call irresistibly smooth, and, get this: truffles. Picture those guys in white chef clothes, with the tall mushroom hats, pouring warm chocolate from broad aluminum spoons. Those kinds of chocolate balls. That’s what I get.
Come the evening of Halloween, when I was a homeowner, I would normally be near the front door waiting to be spooked, first by young children, most of them neighbors I knew, with their parents lurking further up the sidewalk, and then by teenagers whose parents were nowhere to be found. But that’s all behind me now. Now, I light a few candles in my small studio space and put on some suitably eerie music, organs and fingernails, and sit in my easy chair in front of the window looking onto the street, and allow myself the pleasure of one – and only just one - of those irresistibly smooth balls.
But first, there is the unwrapping. Each of these balls is encased in a square of what used to be called cellophane, wrapped like a tube around the ball and then twisted to seal the enclosure. No plastic Twist-Tie. No Zip-Loc. Just two twists, in opposite directions, to seal the deal.
Sometimes I can undo this arrangement in one fell swoop; it becomes a motion that’s easier to accomplish with each repetition. Admittedly, that’s part of the problem in trying not to eat too much, but, hey, I used to play guitar, so I still have that special set of fingerpicking skills that allows me to do the unwrapping job properly, as well as my girlish figure.
Once you have freed the cocoa ball from the cocoon of its wrapper, pop it into your mouth, but DO NOT BITE into it. Simply hold it in the cradle of your mouth, nestled on your tongue.
Now comes the disposal of the cellophane. While you execute this step, the chocolate ball will begin to soften in your mouth. Note the semi-sweet darkness of the shell as this occurs.
Back to the cellophane. Please don’t just ball it up and throw it on the floor, or in a corner, or even immediately into a trash can. Much can be accomplished with this small rectangle to help pass the time essential to the process of moistening the cocoa ball in your mouth, which is the point of this part of the whole thing. I like to fold the wrapper into a tube resembling the original, but flat, with the edges of the cellophane perfectly aligned, and the gold leaf design of the wrapper highlighting a small, centered detail. I understand several origami shapes are obtainable when folding the wrapper, but I haven’t gazed into that navel yet. Once done, I place the condensed wrapper in a small receptacle to be emptied later.
At this point, the dark chocolate shell of the truffle in your mouth has begun to approach dissolution, so it is now time to BITE THROUGH THE BALL.
As you do so, you will immediately begin to feel the lava of the thick 70% cocoa filling begin to pour into the chamber of your mouth, to flow over your teeth, and to start sliding down your throat. DO NOT RUSH this effect, as it is a delicious and sensual one, and it is the one thing those guys in the puffy white hats work so long and hard for in trying to offer you something to appreciate. And it is worth every second of prolongation.
Finally, as the last of the dark chocolate shell breaks apart and comingles with the creaminess of the filling sliding into your deep throat, try to resist the urge to quaff a large quantity of the drink of your choice. Give those puffy hats a chance to work the lingering of their magic.
Then you can go for all the gusto you wish. Happy Halloween.