Updated: Jan 15
As a service to my readers, food & feast posts will always feature the recipe first, with history, folklore, and cooking tips toward the bottom of the page. For background on this recipe and helpful hints for navigating technique, scroll down! Otherwise, dive right in with the recipe below.
venus retrograde dark chocolate & rose hip truffles
Makes about 30 truffles
Prep time : 20 minutes
Chill time : 2 hours
12 oz (about 2 cups) dark chocolate chips
4 tablespoons dried rose hips
1 cup heavy cream
1 teaspoon salt
¼ cup cocoa powder
4 tablespoons dried roses, powdered
¼ cup freeze-dried cherry powder (optional)
Place your chocolate in a large mixing bowl, and set aside. Next, prepare the rose hip infused cream. If your rose hips are not finely ground, you may want to crush them in a mortar and pestle or spice grinder. Place the rose hips into a small pot with the cream and set over a medium high flame. Keep a close watch on the cream to ensure it does not boil or scald. When the cream begins to bubble slightly around the edges, remove it from heat and allow it to infuse with the rose hips for 15 minutes. Strain out the rose hips, and bring the cream back up to a gentle simmer once more. Again, it is important to never let your cream scald, as it will become too thick or curdle in the high heat.
When the cream is just at a simmer, pour it over your chocolate and allow to sit for 2 minutes before stirring, creating your ganache. Add your salt, and using a rubber spatula, stir until all of the ganache is fully melted. If you need slightly more heat, you may warm the chocolate in the microwave for 20-30 seconds at a time, until fully smooth. Place the bowl in the refrigerator and allow to chill until the ganache is set, about 2 hours.
When the ganache has set, remove it from the refrigerator. In a bowl, whisk together your cocoa powder, powdered roses, and powdered cherries if using. Using a spoon or melon baller, scoop out equal, quarter-sized balls of ganache and roll them into spheres between your hands. If the ganache is too soft to roll, place small scoops of ganache onto a tray and refrigerate until firm enough to proceed. Roll each sphere in the cocoa powder mixture, and transfer to a parchment lined tray. Store your truffles in the refrigerator, then allow to stand at room temperature for 15 minutes before serving.
Retrogrades can be chaotic times. We're all likely familiar with the challenging effects of Mercury retrograde, when the planet of logic and communication appears to take a backward, drunken orbit through the sky, creating complications here on earth with tense negotiations, technological glitches, and logistical nightmares. We hear about other retrogrades less frequently, but their effects can be no less restrictive.
This year, Venus is in retrograde in the sign of Capricorn from December 18th, 2021 to January 29th, 2022. The fiery, volcanic planet of love, values, and social connection will spend the holiday season in her own optical-illusion backward orbit, gumming up the wheels of all works to do with relationships, finances, and creative work. Appearing during the holiday season, when many of us are seeking connection with families and loved ones, certainly poses a unique set of challenges. There are many brilliant examinations of what the significance of this Venus Rx movement could look like for each sign (find my favorite horoscopes that mention the retrograde here and here), but suffice to say- if you've been feeling confusion or stagnancy in one of the areas that Venus rules since she began her backward motion, you're certainly justified.
But for now, we can leave speculation and prophecy to the astrologers, and as kitchen witches, turn our attention to more practical concerns. I've written a bit on using food as a medium for astrological remediation, both in The Witch's Feast and elsewhere on the blog. If you're not familiar with the concept, it means we take action against negative astrological aspects, in an attempt to soothe uncomfortable placements and transits. Remediation work says "bad news is still useful, because it tells us what we need to avoid, and how to proceed with safety." In magic, this takes a number of forms - the creation of remediating talismans, devotional work for troublesome planetary energies, and in our case, perhaps a consecrated meal dedicated to Venus, in an effort to pull her more beneficent attributes closer. And when it comes to Venus ingredients, dark chocolate, roses, and full-fat cream could not be more on-the-mark.
These tiny treasures were created for my annual tradition of sending boxes of Christmas candy to friends & family. After a year of so much continued isolation due to the pandemic, and feeling so distant from the social connections I love, I truly put my heart into the candy boxes this year, and paired these truffles with salted honeycomb candy, buttery earl gray shortbread, white chocolate and pistachio fudge, and spiced, candied nuts. In retrospect, each of these recipes features a heavy dose of Venus flavors- honey, bergamot, pistachio, and warming flavors of cinnamon and vanilla. Reaching for these flavors and ingredients as an antidote to loneliness feels natural, especially as Venus stumbles through her retrograde, making us feel even further apart from one another. In that way, the candy boxes this year were as much an act of self-care for me, channeling the creative and affectionate channels that Venus rules, as they were about sharing joy with those I care about. And of the offerings this year- the truffles were the winners, far and away.
For a more involved ritual, consider pairing these offerings (or any other treats created with Venus flavors and ingredients in mind- you can find a short list here on my correspondences page) with an appeal to the intelligence of Venus herself. An altar, even a temporary one, with a dressed Venus candle and a place to burn incense is all you need- the trappings of this altar being determined by your own practice and perspective. In my home, a permanent altar to Venus / Aphrodite lives on my vanity, surrounded by copper seashells, dried jasmine, and features an icon of the goddess elevated on a pedestal. Before her, I offer treats just like these truffles (usually under a small glass dome, as I have cats in the house!) alongside an incense made from frankincense and dried roses. I always offer the Orphic Hymn to Aphrodite as well, and repeat the ritual on Fridays during Venus Retrograde. You can find this beautiful, poetic invocation here :
Ouranía, of whom many sing, laughter-loving Aphrodíti,
Sea-born, birth-giving Goddess, friend of those romantic encounters which extend to dawn, holy one,
At night, causing mortals to mate, wily mother of Necessity;
For everything comes from you, and you have caused the Kózmos to procreate;
You are sovereign over the Three Realms and are the origin of everything,
That which is in the Sky, in the fruitful Earth,
And in the deep Sea, holy attendant of Vákkhos.
You delight in festivity, nuptial, mother of the Ǽrohtæs,
Oh Seductive-one who enjoys making love, secretive, joy-giving queen,
Obvious yet hidden, aristocratic daughter with the beautiful hair,
Bridal, dining companion, sceptered by Gods, wolven;
You give us our progeny, lover of man, desirable one, life-giver;
You couple mortals in unbridled necessity
And the many kinds of wild beasts, frenzied from your charms of love;
Come, daughter of Kýpros, seated in the Heavens,
We behold you, royal Goddess, splendid with your beautiful countenance.
Whether you be on your throne in Syria, rich in frankincense,
Or riding through the plain in your golden chariot,
Or flanked by your priests at the fruitful River of Egypt,
Or riding your swan-drawn carriage upon the waves of the Sea,
Delighting in the little ones as they dance about in circles;
Delightful to the Goddess are the dark-eyed Nymphs of the Earth,
As they lightly leap upon the sandy beaches of the sea-shore.
Or when seated in Kýpros, oh queen and nurturer; where your blessings are invoked
By maidens and virgin Nymphs throughout the year;
They sing for you, happy one, and immortal holy Ádohnis,
Come, happy Goddess who is so ineffably beautiful,
For I summon you with pure words and devout soul.
(Source : HellenicGods.org)