Testing Background Filler Quilting

Test sandwich on top of quilt in progress

After my new Westalee templates for ruler quilting on my domestic sewing machine arrived, I auditioned several on my quilt top.

First, I just put the templates on the quilt to see where quilting lines could fall. Next, I traced some with disappearing purple marker on my test sandwich.

Spiral quilting test

Sewsteady / Westalee 6″ Spiral template

I started stitching out the Westalee 6 inch SpiralI started stitching out the Westalee 6 inch Spiral in the space between the circles, but I soon gave up and ripped it out. I found it impossible to return to the same spot each time.

Spiral quilting up close – very thin silk thread, but still too much thread in one place for my liking

I thought there was too much thread buildup in the center, and I felt it did not look harmonious with the circles.

Next, I tried the same template in a different way. This time I used the center of the circle as the center of the spiral, and only stitched the parts outside the circle. You can see the result in the first picture in this blog.

I am not completely happy with the look, and the quilting itself is not exactly easy or quick, even on an easy to handle test sandwich without any bumpy seams. I think the density of the quilting is about right though, and all of the other options would require marking. This option does not, so that’s a plus.

I think next, I will try to put in a counter clock wise filler around the remaining small circle, to see how alternating the direction of the fillers around each small circle looks.

I will keep you posted!

XXX Annika

Done Some More Quilting – (with the help of a toilet seat)

Quilting the final row of circles

I have finished quilting all the circles on the quilt from my previous post.

Back of quilt, with circle quilting (and stains from basting spray :-( )

The beautiful blue backing does not show up correctly in this picture because of our bright orange glass curtains! (It is correct in the first picture).

I have received the quilting templates I ordered, to try out several ways to fill the spaces between the circles. I use these acrylic templates to quilt with a ruler foot on my domestic sewing machine.

All the new templates have curved lines. There is one for serpentine quilting, one for spiraling curved lines, a couple for curved cross hatching, and several arcs which can be used in many ways.

I started working on a test sandwich, to audition some quilting and see which option will flatten the unquilted spaces enough, without puckering the circles. I also want to keep marking to a minimum, and a pattern that continues nice and evenly in all directions.

Test sandwich, using the same Oakshott fabric in a different color, and the same wool batting

If I use the centers or lines of the blocks as guides to avoid marking, I may end up with gaps or awkward overlaps if the repeat of the template does not match my block size. That’s why I want to test thoroughly.

I hope to create a back which will be neat enough to use as a front. That is because the colors of the front are not really our colors, and we can’t imagine having that quilt on display in our joyful orange and pink living room, or in our turquoise, pink and purple bedroom! But since this quilt is a special memory to my FIL we do want to keep it and have it in sight in some way.

So, the back is more than an afterthought. We picked backing fabric in a color that relates to the front and is a color we both love.

I wanted the quilting to add something to the blocks, and not overpower them or look totally unrelated. I think I succeeded so far. Each square block consists of 4 triangles, so has a very clear center. I made this center the center of quilted rings, echoing outward.

And now, I think it needs some more quilting. I have been debating whether I would keep the filling quilting inside the sashings, or quilt over corners of the blocks too.

I think I will do the latter, because I don’t like the idea of straight lines on the back. If I think the curved quilting pushes the straight lined blocks too much to the background, I will change my plan. I think I will be fine however, since I would mostly be quilting over the darker parts of the blocks. I will pick a darker shade of thread so it won’t show up as much as the circles do on the navy blue.

For the bobbin thread I have a matching blue silk thread (not in the picture). The bobbin thread I used for the circles is a very cute lilac (on the right, all Superior Threads Kimono Silk).

Turns out my computer glasses work very well for quilting! You can’t really tell in the picture above, but the frame is asymmetrical! I love it. The designer has a range of subtly asymmetrical frames to match the natural variations in symmetry of the human face. I probably have the fanciest computer glasses in the world! :-)

Theo Eyewitness frame WC in several colors

Fancy, as long as I don’t mention the name…. Glasses are named ‘bril’ in Dutch. The Theo Eyewitness range gives two letters to each model. I think the first is for the collection, the second is for the specific model. With my frame they ended up at WC. So…. I have a very pricy ‘WC bril’ on my face :-(

It means toilet seat!! I kid you not, you can check the model number in the pink frame pictured above. And it is not like (Belgian) Theo does not know this!! Funny guys…

Well, as long as I can remember on which WC bril to sit, and which one to put on my nose, I will be fine!

XXX Annika

Been Quilting

Arthur’s Shirts Quilt – original design by Annika Kornelis

We are still healthy and happy! And yes, I have even spent some time quilting. I had days off and nowhere to go :-).

I started this quilt about seven years ago, and it is made of mostly striped and checked fabric, all from shirts and some ties and pajamas of my late father in law. Three fabrics in each block.

The batting is wool, and the backing is a gorgeous Oakshott light blue fabric. I am quilting on my Bernina 440 (domestic sewing machine) with a ruler foot and Westalee templates (Circles on quilts). I am using Superior Threads Kimono Silk, which is a dream!

This combination of fabrics, batting and thread seriously gives no lint at all! I am used to cleaning and oiling the machine after each day of quilting. But there is nothing to clean! I remove oil that has run out of its little gutter before I apply new oil, and that’s it! I do always lift the stitch plate to check, but there is never any lint.

Quilting With Templates

I am waiting for new Westalee Templates to arrive to test some ideas for filler quilting between the circles.

Quilting Setup in Bedroom

I quilt in the bedroom, just next to the bed. I am standing, with the machine on a table with adjusting height. It’s easier and more relaxed than sit down quilting. I can toss all my stuff on the bed and have it in reach.

In the picture above you can see some horrible glue stains in the backing. (Apparently, an old can of 505 basting spray can go off! Test your basting spray first!).

I do hope the stains will wash out. I even bought special stuff to remove the basting spray, but I will only use it if I have too, and will test the Oakshott fabric first.

But, first, try to finish quilting!

XXX Annika

EQ8 Projectfile for Inklingo Schoolhouse Quilts

King’s Day Inklingo Schoolhouse Trees and Flowers quilt – original quilt design by Annika Kornelis – EQ8 project file available for download

I made a variation on the King’s Day Houses quilt from my previous post. I really like the design, so I wanted it to be more feasible to actually make! While designing the applique block with a tulip tree, I hadn’t considered ease of execution at all.

Tulip Tree block – original applique block design by Annika Kornelis

I hoped it would be possible to get across the same joyous vibrant Spring feeling with a simpler block. So I decided to go with circles instead of tulip shapes. I made sure the circles used are available as Inklingo shapes. Especially if you use Karen Kay Buckley’s Perfect Circle templates, the new block is much easier to make!

The Inklingo Schoolhouse block is 9 x 9 inches. So I designed the applique block to be the same size. In a 9 inch block, the circles are 0.4375, 0.75 and 3.5 inches. If you want to, you could make the tree trunk with a 0.75 x 3 inch log cabin rectangle (round the visible corners a bit for easier applique).

The flower stems (about 1/8 of an inch wide) are probably easiest to applique with narrow ribbon, couched with yarn, or embroidered.

I have designed several quilt variations: just pieced blocks without applique, a quilt with mostly pieced blocks and some applique, and a quilt with lots of applique blocks! I am showing them here in this post.

Three of them are in the EQ8 project file which you can download here. You can only open it if you have EQ8. The file will not open with previous versions of Electric Quilt software.

Remember to check the Notecards in the file, for both the blocks and the quilts. I noted practical information about sizes and shapes.

If you download the project file, remember to check the Notecards!

Sorry I have no pdf download for the applique block! I had planned to add a pdf pattern for my appliqué block, but frustratingly, I have been unable to find a (free) pdf printer driver for my iMac. I am unable to use the ‘save as pdf’ function to print from EQ. If one of you can make an accurate pdf, and send it to me, I will put it up for downloading here. That way, Inklingoists without EQ8 can still make this quilt!

Linda Franz designed the schoolhouse block shape collection especially for sewing with kids. One of these quilts could be a great multi generation project now that many of you have to keep kids occupied inside the home.

One of the quilt designs that is in the project file. Piecing only. The block variations are designed and drafted in EQ by Linda Franz. The quilt design is mine.

The third quilt that is in the project file – original quilt design by Annika Kornelis. This is a variation with a pieced background for the applique block, to match the seam line for the ground in the Inklingo School house block – Tree block designed by Annika Kornelis

Variation with sashings and less applique blocks – original quilt design by Annika Kornelis

Variation with more applique blocks, some mirrored – original quilt design by Annika Kornelis

Enjoy!

XXX Annika

Koning Willem-Alex-Anders Dag!

20200427 Kings Day Quilt – Pastel Version – original quilt design by Annika Kornelis

Today, 27 April, is King Willem-Alexander’s birthday. Of course we can’t celebrate this like in previous years.

We are having the warmest, sunniest King’s Day since we are celebrating this King’s birthday, but we have to stay indoors as much as possible, and can only celebrate in a small circle. Events and parties are not allowed.

Orange is our national color, it is in the name of our Royal House (of Orange-Nassau). So, I designed a quilt with orange houses for today. Wouldn’t you like to cuddle on your couch under this quilt, while sheltering in place?

I put in some red, a lot of white and (baby) blue for the colors of our flag, but kept everything in Spring pastels in the quilt at the top. Sweet and joyful!

20200427 Kings Day Quilt – Red White and Blue version – original quilt design by Annika Kornelis

The houses are the 9 inch Inklingo schoolhouse blocks. I drafted my own Tulip Tree applique block. Tulips are a Dutch icon as well, and they are plentiful around King’s Day, so very appropriate. I like the overall result!

I am not sure I would ever applique so many small tulips like that, but designing this in EQ is easy and fun. Using the Ellipse tool, and the WreathMaker tool several times, I was done before I knew!

You can find more quilt designs with the same schoolhouse block on this blog here.

If you are wondering about the Dutch title of today’s post, it is the alternative name for today’s King’s Day, the very clever winning result of a contest for renaming this day to reflect the fact that we can’t celebrate like usual. ‘Dag’ means day. It is ‘King Willem-Alexander’s Day’, but written such that it says: King Willem-Alex-Different Day’. And if you pronounce it quickly, it sounds like: ‘King Willem Everything Different Day’.

Well, not everything was different, fortunately! We had a day off like usual! We still used our orange cups and plates, we still had orange pastries, and I am still wearing the orange socks I only wear once a year :-).

Cheers!

XXX Annika

 

Simple Shape Quilt Designs

Half Square Triangles (HST’s), Rectangles, Squares – original quilt design by Annika Kornelis

I am not feeling very creative these days. My creativity feeds off the buzz of city life. Since we are supposed to only go outside if it’s necessary, and many or all shops, restaurants, cafes, theaters, museums and offices are closed, there is no buzz. There is hardly any city life. It’s sad.

So while I am not brimming with creative ideas, I do feel the need to play with color, and make nice things I can share. I figured I would design quilts with repeating basic units, in case anyone wants to do fairly random piecing to keep busy, using just their stash, and without a real pattern in mind.

Many of these basic units can be made with Inklingo shapes. You can find all available shapes and sizes here. Note: Squares and rectangles are under ‘polygons’.

I used mostly existing blocks from the EQ Block Libraries. I hope these pictures give you some ideas of what you can do with piles of, for instance, half square triangle units or flying geese units. Linda Franz gives some great Triangle Tips on her website for quick, efficient and perfectly accurate machine piecing triangle units.

The Five Patch Shoo Fly block on a 5 x 5 square grid

The yellow / orange quilt at the top of the post uses Five Patch Shoo Fly blocks, set side by side, surrounded with grey and yellow sashings, and blue corner stones. This design would work with a controlled scrappy palette too.

All rectangles are the same size, both inside the block and in the sashings. The same goes for the small center squares and the corner stones.

You can see the ratios in the line drawing above. So if a block finishes at 5 inches, the grey sashing rectangles are 1 x 2 inches, with a 1 inch yellow square in the middle.

Triangles and Squares – original quilt design by Annika Kornelis

The second quilt alternates two 4 x 4 grid blocks. One is a Variable Star with an extra diamond in the center. The other is a Dutchman’s Puzzle. Both use the same sizes of triangles, in basically Flying Geese units.

Line Drawing of Variable Star on 4 x 4 square grid

Line Drawing of Dutchman’s Puzzle on 4 x 4 square grid

The larger triangles are all Quarter Square Triangles (QST’s). The smaller ones are Half Square Triangles (HST’s). Let’s assume you want to make these blocks using Inklingo shapes.

The long side of the QST’s are half the width of the block. They are named for the length of this side. The largest ‘regular’ size in Inklingo QST’s is 3 inches. (There are many more ‘odd’ sizes of QST, up to 12.18 inch!).

So let’s say you are making 6 inch blocks (finished size), using 3″ QST’s. You would need the 1.5″ HST shapes for the small triangles. The corner squares in the Variable Star block are also 1.5″. So the ratios are: QST and square 1 : HST 2 : block size 4.

The on point square in the center (or diamond) of the Variable Star has an odd size. The sides are the length of the long side of the HST’s. If its short sides are 1.5 inches, the long side is 1.5 x 1.414 = 2.12. (Thank you, Pythagoras, for figuring out the 1.414!)

And that sort of thing is why Linda Franz of Inklingo has provided us with so many ‘odd’ sized shapes! :-). Thank you Linda, for making 2.12 inch square Inklingo Shapes!

Of course you can pick any size you like for your sashings and corner stones. If you want to use Inklingo shapes, you can use the log cabin shape collections. The largest log available is 1 x 10 inches.

Dutchman’s Puzzle and Variable Star blocks without sashing, different coloring  – original quilt design by Annika Kornelis

Above you can see what you can achieve with the same blocks in a different set. Here they are set side by side without sashings. The different coloring (specifically the black triangles) makes it look like Dutchman’s Puzzle variation blocks in an on point setting, with light grey and red sashings.

Very simple Flying Geese quilt design. Would work in vertical direction too. Original quilt design by Annika Kornelis

Again, for flying geese units with Inklingo shapes, you need QST’s for the larger triangles and HST’s for the smaller triangles. For any size QST, you need half the size HST. Linda names all shapes with the finished size, so you would be looking for say 6″ QST and 3″ HST shapes.

I hope you enjoyed this virtual quilt show!

XXX Annika

Different Easter Chocolate!

Easter Egg Tree in our living room. I left the art card in the picture, because it shows my favorite Fernando Botero painting: The Vatican Bathroom :-).

We have a second similar Easter Egg Tree in our living room, but other than that, no Easter eggs for us this year! No chocolate eggs, no decorated boiled eggs. We almost didn’t have the glass Easter eggs on display either, because until White Thursday, we had been unwilling to remove the Christmas decorations from our trees! (“Christmas trees in April?!” “Yeah, you know, climate change…” ;-))

I made filled eggs, and of course we did not have to go without chocolate. I tried to make eggnog truffles.

Eggnog and chocolate, to start water based ganache

Long story short, I mixed two failed eggnog ganaches (one milk chocolate and one dark chocolate) and we ended up with a delicious chocolate eggnog paste. We spooned some up with fresh raspberries at our Easter brunch, and had the rest as dessert on Easter Monday. If we took a neat spoonful of chocolate paste, it looked just like an Easter egg on a handle :-)

Part of our 2020 Easter brunch, during ‘intelligent lockdown’. The chocolate eggnog paste is in the espresso cups. It wasn’t mousse, but thick like Nutella, and delicious. For Easter, we only use the yellow and green parts of our Arzberg Tric service (we have orange, ice blue, lagoon blue and dotted in mixed colors as well).

Another way to have chocolate was with my new, beloved Hot Chocolate Shaker!

Just hot water and chocolate, shaken. Delicious!

It is a simple looking plastic cup with a lid. I was doubtful at first whether this would really be anything special. But I decided to give it a try and order, because my luxury drinking chocolates never resulted in completely satisfactory drinks at home. I tried several hand whisks but my chocolate always remained watery with separate chocolate bits. An immersion blender could do better, but it is just too big for one cup.

I was pleasantly surprised by the Hot Chocolate Shaker! By putting chocolate and water in it, and shaking it manually for about ten seconds, I can make a delicious hot chocolate drink! (Of course this works with milk, too.) Cooped up at home with all my chocolate at hand, and a need for sweet comfort, this new gadget is a serious threat to my waistline!

I am usually quite moderate with chocolate, but a nice cup of hot drinking chocolate takes 30 grams or more. That adds up!

Pieces of chocolate bar (Original Beans – Femmes de Virunga – 55% dark milk chocolate) in my chocolate shaker. Just adding hot water and shaking for about 15 seconds results in a frothy, completely smooth drink. Cleaning the cup is a breeze, too!

There were other treats for our four day Easter break at home. I ordered a gorgeous book (through Quiltmania), Wartime Quilts by Annette Gero.

Wartime Quilts, book by Annette Gero. Great to enjoy with hot chocolate, in my comfy pants :-)

Peek inside the book. My favorite quilts are the geometric antique quilts made by soldiers, from thousands of pieces of thick wool uniform fabrics.

And I have some more pictures for you, continuing from my previous post.

Original quilt design by Annika Kornelis

The milk chocolate brown here represents the comfort of chocolate in yet another form! All blocks in these 3 quilt designs are original designs, and drafted by me in EQ8.

The rainbows from my starting idea transformed into wavy backgrounds here, which reminded me of comet trails. Not as hopeful as rainbows, but perhaps equally fitting for these times!

I hope you were able to make the best of Easter, or just a break, as well.

Stay home, stay safe!

XXX Annika

Happy Easter!

Diamond Stars and Rainbows Quilt – original design by Annika Kornelis. In this design I tried to evoke spring meadows with fields of tulips underneath the rainbows. The easter bunny has probably hidden some chocolate eggs in the grass or among the tulips! :-)

I have been trying to design joyful quilts, to cheer you up during these scary, difficult times. I hope you are healthy and able to take good care of yourself.

We are still healthy, and have both been working from home for a couple of weeks now. We live in a small one bedroom flat, and our country is in what the government calls ‘intelligent lockdown’. I am staying indoors as much as possible. I think my designs from past weeks reflect that currently there is too much going on in a small space! LOL!

I chose rainbows, to symbolize hope, and stars for guidance and eternity, as the elements for the designs. I drafted blocks which have both, in EQ8. I am not entirely happy with these designs, but I am realistic: this is the best I can do under the circumstances.

Today, Good Friday, I had a resting day (no work until Tuesday!!), and we went for a long walk on a glorious day. After that, designing went much better. The air literally appeared in my quilts!

Easter Stars Quilt – original design by Annika Kornelis

I tried a different star in my block, and ditched the busy rainbow color palette. I opted for lots of white and not too much contrast.

In case you want to skip Easter altogether and go back to last Christmas, before this pandemic started:

Winter version of Easter Star quilt. Blocks on point and different coloring. Original quilt design by Annika Kornelis

Stay home, stay safe!

XXX Annika

 

EQ8 Project File for Willyne Hammerstein’s Raindrops Quilt Pattern

A variation of Willyne Hammerstein’s quilt pattern Raindrops Are Falling On My Head (in the book Millefiori 4 by Quiltmania)

Inklingo’s Linda Franz just released another shape collection for a pattern from the Millefiori 4 quilt pattern book by Willyne Hammerstein. This time it’s Raindrops Are Falling On My Head. This is another one that can be drafted in EQ’s square blocks. So I did! But no digital fussy cutting this time. I wanted to get this project file to you as quickly as possible, just in case you are bored in quarantine or social isolation.

You can use my project file as a coloring page, and to audition digital fabrics. EQ8 scales fabric prints to the block size. In my project file the quilt layout and block size are different from the actual pattern!

I don’t have the pattern, so I don’t know what the block size in the pattern is. So, if you want to make this quilt, and want to use an EQ8 file for auditioning fabric prints, you need to type in the correct block size in the project file.

The pattern is in centimeters, and your EQ may be set for inches. You can change the settings to centimeters.

Go to your starting window in EQ. If you click on the little cog wheel icon (Settings icon) near the bottom left, a pop up for Preferences for your Workspace and Project properties appears. After adjusting your settings, click OK. (If you are in one of the workspaces, you will get a different pop up when clicking the Settings icon.)

After changing to centimeters a 9 inch block will be a 9 centimeter block, which is about 2.5 times smaller. So if you plan to actually make this quilt, check your units before you spend hours of rotating and fussy cutting digital fabrics at the wrong scale!

If you are just playing with fabrics for fun, you can resize the block until your chosen fabrics fit to your liking!

You can download my EQ8 project file here.

Have a home made truffle to go with it, and have fun!

XXX Annika

 

Tips For Making Water Based Chocolate Truffles

A selection of the stuff I use for chocolate experiments: Monin syrups, drinking chocolates, Van Wees esprits, liqueurs, whisky, dried lavender flowers and a candied violet

In my previous post I promised you some more information on making nice water based chocolate truffles.

I go about this in much the same way as most of us would pick fabrics and colors for a quilt. The focus flavor is always chocolate! I am not going to make anything like filled chocolates where chocolate is only used as a handy casing for whatever. And whatever is mostly sweet and has very little to do with chocolate flavor.

My truffles are nothing like what you know from shops. Even if you are familiar with excellent plain chocolate ganache, it is probably dairy or caramel based! Water ganache has a much lighter mouth feel. It also has very limited shelf life, so it is much less suited to shops than the familiar types of chocolates.

So, when you read about the flavor combinations I made, you must keep in mind that it is only a fairly subtle layer in the chocolate flavor.

Think of the chocolate flavor as the blue main color in a quilt. Think of any added flavor as a bright yellow. I am not trying to create a patchwork that reminds us of an IKEA logo! Nor do I want to end up with an all green quilt, with the blue and yellow unrecognizable.

In this quilt, the yellow is just an accent, or maybe just a drop mixed in with the blue to make the blue a bit more cheerful.

So the main flavor is always chocolate. I audition my ingredients just like I would audition fabrics.

Maybe I will start with a particular chocolate bar. I taste a little crumb by letting it melt in my mouth. And while focusing on the chocolate flavor, I start to think about what it is lacking, or what could perhaps go nicely with it. If the chocolate tastes a bit bitter now, I know that water ganache will only bring that forward. Would I like it sweeter, creamier, or both? In the latter cases I usually mix in some milk chocolate or white chocolate, rather than add a creamy fluid.

I will mix together any ingredients that come to mind as complimentary to the chocolate flavor, in very small amounts. Perhaps I will mix a couple of drops in a teaspoon. And I taste that. I want the added ingredients to taste nice and harmonious together, separate from the chocolate. I taste, add and mix until I like it. Compare this to folding a pile of fabrics into narrower pieces, to audition them next to each other. Some colors or prints work next to one fabric, but not next to another. Or only in a narrower strip.

An example of ingredients I mixed and tested is whisky with honey and salty salmiak powder. When I am happy with my mixture of ingredients, I taste them together with a crumb of the focus chocolate melting in my mouth. Does it work? Do I need to change proportions? Do I add something else, or leave something out?

Sometimes the ‘focus fabric’ I start with is not chocolate, but a particular added flavor, like violet syrup. In that case, I will try crumbs of several types of chocolate with the violet syrup, and see which chocolate works best. The results can be just as surprising as auditioning colored fabrics together! Like colors, flavors mingling influence each other.

For finishing my truffles, I taste combinations again. A small slice of the set ganache, dipped in a little grated chocolate, or cocoa powder. Sometimes one of the flavors just seems to disappear. Some combinations are just not pleasant. I can never predict what will work. It really is just like picking fabrics for a quilt, pulling as many fabrics as you can, laying them out and really looking at what happens.

And just like with quilting, this part is really fun, too! Having a finished quilt (truffle) is great, but I think picking colors and prints and learning about how they work together is more exciting!

Just last week I made some spectacularly delicious chocolate truffles perfumed with violet-yuzu-lemon and a little sea salt caramel fudge. I started with a 75% single origin Tanzania chocolate bar that we just could not love like it deserved. It was a happy experiment with leftovers and other stuff I just had in my pantry.

Over time I bought several ingredients specifically for experimenting with truffles, that come in very handy now. Apart from pretty standard items, like dried spices and several types of tea, I have:

  • Monin gourmet flavored syrups, which are usually used in coffee or cocktails;
  • Van Wees ‘esprits’. These spirits are alcohol based herb, nut or fruit essences;
  • Several types of port wine and saké (including aged saké and Japanese plum wine);
  • Mini bottles and samples of several types of good rum, whisky and liqueur;
  • A very good, thick and sweet aged balsamic vinegar;
  • Vanilla extract we made at home, of pure wodka and good quality vanilla pods.

Other things I use are several types of sweetener, including melted or dissolved candy.

And for finishing my precious truffles in style:

  • Several brands of cocoa powder (among which Marou and To’ak);
  • Excellent grated drinking chocolates (by Pump Street);
  • Candied whole violet flowerheads! (I bought a rather big box of beautiful candied violets as a Sinterklaas gift for my other half over two years ago! They look and taste wonderful, but we saved most of them for ‘something special’ like a pretty cake or something. It just never happened…They are well past their ‘best before’ date now, but they are still in perfect condition.)
  • A chocolate flaker (Boska), to grind a piece of chocolate;
  • A good, fine grater (Microplane).

I can use the latter two when I want to use flakes or gratings from a specific bar to finish a truffle with.

I can give you the recipe for the violet truffles, because who knows, you just might have all the ingredients at hand too :-)! Or you could make something pretty close to it.

Violet and chocolate is a very good combination. The violet syrup reminds me of a sweet raspberry lemonade or something, without any tartness. That’s why I added some lemon juice and yuzu esprit. Just creamy sweetness often falls flat for me. What I used:

For the ganache

  • 43 grams of a 75% dark chocolate from Tanzania (without vanilla), in small pieces. I used a chocolate for matching with violet that could do with some added smoothness in my opinion. It was a tiny bit astringent and bitter. It was all that was left from the bar, no need to be very exact about this weight.
  • 29 grams of a dark milk chocolate (55%) without vanilla, in small pieces. I used Original Beans Femmes de Virunga. (If 29 grams seems an odd amount to you… An Original Beans 70 gram bar is divided in 12 pieces. I used 5 pieces :-).)
  • 15 grams (2 pieces) of Copper Pot Caramel and Sea salt fudge, in fine crumbles.
  • 4 teaspoons of lemon juice
  • 4 teaspoons of yuzu esprit (60% alcohol volume)
  • 2 teaspoons of violet syrup
  • Pinch of sea salt

For coating and decoration: Grated dark drinking chocolate 75% Jamaica (Pump Street) + small pieces of candied violet petals

Prepare a small mold to pour your ganache in, like I showed in this post.

Mix all the ingredients for the ganache (listed above) in a small bowl which can be used in the microwave. Heat everything for about 10 – 15 seconds in the microwave on high. Stir and flatten lumps as much as possible. (Some caramel crumbs will remain).

Repeat once if necessary, make sure the chocolate is soft. NOTE: It is very easy to accidentally burn your chocolate at this stage!! Use the microwave for maximum 10 seconds each time. Stir, let the heat spread evenly, and repeat heating if necessary.

Because you will add just a little bit of water, you have to make sure your chocolate is soft and warm enough to completely melt until smooth in the water. The small amount of water will cool off too quickly when added to a cold bowl of chocolate.

Add 16 grams of hot (boiled) water and stir until you have a glossy and mostly smooth mixture (except for the fudge crumbs), about the thickness of yoghurt.

Pour into your mold and let set for at least two hours in the fridge.

Cut into pieces and finish by pushing each cube into the grated chocolate. Coated, you can keep them for a couple of days. Only put the little piece of candied violet (like 2 x 3 millimeters or something, a whole petal would be way too sweet!) on top of your truffle just before serving, so it remains crunchy.

These truffles were delicious without the candied violet. But getting a bite of that too really added something! The flavors in the ganache came to life, and we became much more aware of the yuzu and the salt than without the contrasting sweet candied violet.

Other experiments which turned out excitingly delicious (in our opinion, anyway):

  • Dark chocolate with saké and lavender;
  • Dark chocolate with mezcal, cardamom, black pepper and sea salt;
  • Dark milk chocolate with passionfruit, balsamic vinegar and basil;
  • Dark chocolate mixed with dark milk chocolate, with plum wine and honey;

Not every combination works at the first try. But you can always remelt and change something.

In the picture at the top of this post, you see my latest failure, in the yellow espresso cup. I was trying to make rum truffles, with 4 teaspoons of rum and some vanilla syrup. The set ganache just did not taste of rum at all! Aargh.

So I added 4 more teaspoons of rum and worked it into the set ganache with a small fork. (I did not remelt). Still no rum flavor. I repeated this several times, with increasingly larger spoons. At some point, it was just chocolate mousse which could probably double as an anti-virus hand rub. I knew if I added chocolate to restore the proportions for a ganache that would set, the rum flavor would be muted again.

So, I just cut my losses and served it up as very boozy chocolate mousse (chocolate mooze ;-))

That is one thing that I tend to struggle with in water ganache, alcohol based ingredients. Very often, the alcohol overpowers before I get enough of the actual rum or whisky (or whatever) flavor. Heating in the microwave to get rid of some of the alcohol helps, but it can also ruin the harmony and complexity of the liquor.

But rest assured, you really don’t need special or exotic ingredients. It is just to give you an idea of things to try beyond coffee, cinnamon, hazelnut, caramel, etc. Even if you just have very good quality chocolate, a pinch of salt and plain water, you could make delicious truffles!

One last tip: I have found that the flavor of my truffles develops over a couple of days. It is nice to follow the development, by having one truffle each day. My truffles usually taste their best when the water ganache is two days old.

Cheers! XXX Annika