One gift that's sure to make anyone squeal is homemade chocolate truffles. This recipe makes about 24 inch-round candies. Buy the best chocolate possible. According to Rob Kingsbury, owner of Kingsbury Chocolates in Alexandria, you should look for "a high percentage of cocoa for a rich flavor. If a bar is like 70 percent cocoa, it will be very dark . . . but if you love milk chocolate, use that."
The candies will look a little free- form, but that's fine. "Chocolate truffles got their name from the mushroom," Kingsbury says. "They aren't always perfect little spheres, and tossed in cocoa. They sort of model what a truffle mushroom looks like."
Kingsbury suggests expanding the coating beyond pecans or cocoa by combing the grocery store candy shelves. "They have all sorts of things nowadays like little Heath Bar bits or Butterfinger bits -- candies that are already crushed up -- roll 'em in that," he says.
"That will add all sorts of textures and variations" to the truffles, he says.
For a festive gift, present the truffles in small take-out cartons found at the Container Store. Six truffles will fit in an eight-ounce carton. "[Our shop] offers a six- and eight-piece assortment," Kingsbury says. "That's our most popular favor, say, if you're going over to a couple's house for dinner and want to bring them a little something."
Be sure to save a few for yourself.
Hetty Lipscomb is a local freelance writer and a regular contributor to Weekend. Her favorite truffle coating is crushed Heath Bar bits.