Holidays within holidays. A city trademark and possibly the one of the best parts of growing up in New Orleans. While the rest of the country is celebrating a general holiday season, we seem to take it one step further, creating events within the season to mark pinnacle moments…caroling in Jackson Square, a Celebration in the Oaks preview party, bonfires outside of the city limits, and perhaps the most iconic of them all, Christmas Eve Midnight Mass at the St. Louis Cathedral and Reveillon dinner that follows.
Midnight mass at the Cathedral is something to behold, even if you are not Catholic. The warm glow of the candles, the heady spiced incense, and patrons dressed in their fanciest attire fresh from Christmas parties joining in the choral responses to the Profession of Faith and Extensions of Peace are all very intoxicating. For 45 minutes, everything is right in the world and Christmas has finally sunk in. It's almost a shame they don't hold the mass at the start of the holiday season, because up until that point it never really seems like Christmas to me. Then again, maybe that's the whole point.
After the mass comes to a close, feasting begins. The French call it Reveillon. The Italians, The Feast of Seven Fishes. Generally speaking, the concept of both is the same. Traditionally, Catholic followers fast the day before Christmas. Reveillon or Feast of the Seven Fishes is the breaking of that fast, and the celebration of the joy and renewal that the Birth is said to bring. Menu options can range from fancy egg dishes to bourbon laced cookies, broiled fish to grillades, or from turtle soup to raw oysters on the half shell. Of course in New Orleans, you are likely to get them all in one sitting.
My first official offering to you this holiday season is a reflection of my favorite holiday tradition. It’s sort of like a hippy-dippy granola orb, only the oats have been left out, and it’s been soaked in Southern Comfort, dredged in powdered sugar and enrobed in dark chocolate. It’s kind of fruit-cakey and a touch spicy. The hard dark chocolate shell, once broken, gives way to a cornucopia of dried fruits and nuts, bright citrus notes from the candied orange peel we made just days ago, and the tingle of Southern Comfort and warm spices. Truth be told, this is not a candy for children. Some would even say it is an acquired taste—(I know, the scarlet letter of all things culinary). For me though, its just not Christmas without a midnight mass and some alcohol-laced chocolates. With that said and without further adieu, let's get to the point of it all: the recipe for the Reveillon Truffles.
p.s.--Apricot Surprises, Molasses Crinkles, Fantasy Fudge, and Toasted Pecan Bark are all set to be posted this week, and more recipes are being tested as we speak, so keep checking back :-)