One of the things I wanted to do for Christmas this year was find a better way to dip candies in chocolate. I wanted my peanut butter bon-bons and buttercreams finished off with the taste and texture of real chocolate. And I wanted them to look as good as they tasted.
So I did a little research on dipping candies. And every answer I found said the same thing: just temper pure chocolate, dip the centers and the candies will set up perfectly.
At first, the process of tempering chocolate looked a bit daunting. But after finding a few tips, I decided it was a technique I could master. Plus, I love culinary challenges.
I followed the directions and tips and everything worked beautifully. I ended up with a bowl full of perfectly tempered chocolate. I started dipping the peanut butter bon-bon centers and soon realized why chocolate candy making is a professional art. My chocolate cooled too quickly and when I reheated it to bring it back into a dipping state, I overheated it and the chocolate lost its temper. And so did I.
I understand now that chocolate is as fickle as my four-year-old. And like my relationship with my daughter, I found myself wondering, how can something I love so much result in so much frustration. But instead of continuing to be frustrated, I decided that I had too much to do this holiday season to let untempered chocolate bother me.
I gave up on dipping with tempered chocolate, mixed a little coconut oil into the melted chocolate and finished dipping the bon-bons. The bon-bons aren't as perfect as I had wanted them to be, but I'm guessing nobody else is going to notice or care.
It seems like every year I need to be reminded that holiday treat making is more about the experience and memories than it is about the finished products. I have to put my perfectionism aside and accept that what ends up on the cookie tray might not look as perfect as I want, but the treats will be enjoyed all the same.
I believe this lesson applies to matters beyond the cookie tray, too.
The Christmas season is filled with lots of opportunities to seek perfection. We want our Christmas trees and houses to be perfectly decorated. We spend countless hours and dollars searching for the perfect gifts and then even more time and money on wrapping them perfectly. We dress and groom our children so they look perfect for their holiday programs and recitals. We expect perfect behavior from our children (and everyone else) at gatherings with family and friends.
But, really, does it matter if all of the decorations are on one side of the tree, or if one of the kids is wearing mismatched socks at the Christmas program?
What does matter is that we do our best, have fun and cherish our time with family and friends.
Christmas shouldn't be about perfection.
I hope you'll join me in embracing our imperfections - culinary and otherwise - this holiday season.
From my family to yours, may your Christmas season be full of blessings and joy.