I think I’m not alone in occasionally feeling on the edge of hypomania around the holidays…
Clinical definition: Hypomania is an episode of at least four days of elevated or irritable mood different from the individual’s normal mood that does not cause marked impairment of function or hospital admission, and which includes at least three of the following
- decreased sleep
- more talkative than usual
- racing throughts or flight of ideas
- increased goal direct activity or psychomotor agitation
- excessive involvement in pleasurable activities even if they have a high potential for negative consequences.
Although oftentimes my family and friends’ extracurricular expectations of me are low, I love finding, wrapping, and giving gifts, and have been known to go a little overboard sometimes. This year I think it was brought on by the realization that I hadn’t handmade any gifts for anyone. Usually I knit like crazy during the summer, fall, and early winter to make sweaters, socks, hats, and scarves for friends and family. I knew that wasn’t an option this year, with the clinical calendar as it is, but decided to make small gifts for my extended family members. This blossomed from a well-intentioned little craft project into a bit of a crazed mission involving large volumes of chocolate and Martha Stewart branded craft materials.
(Another note: This gifting is not the extent of the holicrazy. I also made squash soup from scratch, which included roasting the squash seeds as a snack, and was posted earlier this week… Also, I drafted all of these holiday posts in a single morning when I was feeling particularly productive…)
Since they were all mailed last Saturday, and should have arrived already, I think it won’t be spoiling anything for anyone to post some pictures and the recipe here…
adapted slightly from Seriously Good Improvisational Chocolates by Sally Schneider
Chop up 1 lb (or more, or less, depending on how much you want) of really good chocolate into 1-inch or smaller pieces. I used Callebaut chocolate, which they carry at my bulk food store, and Ms. Schneider recommends Valhrona, which I’ve seen at Whole Foods, or Sharfenberger. You can use either dark semi-sweek chocolate or milk chocolate. Cover a baking sheet with parchment paper. Melt 1/2 of your the chocolate in a saucepan floating in another saucepan of water on the stove (or use a double boiler if you have that sort of fancy equipment). When half the chocolate is melted, remove it from heat and stir in the remaining chocolate until it’s all melted. Use a spatula and spread it into the parchment paper so that it’s about 1/8”-1/4” thick. Let it sit for 3-4 minutes to set a bit, and then sprinkle with the toppings of your choice. I’ve listed the festive holiday options I chose below. Let the chocolate sit for a few hours or until it’s firm. Break it into shards, and package it up! Per Ms. Schneider it will keep for several weeks in a sealed container at room temperature.
For Mexican hot chocolate: Vietnamese cinnamon or other very fragrant cinnamon, and cayenne pepper. Sprinkle the cinnamon liberally, and go easy with the pepper.
For candy cane: Crush candy canes in a plastic bag (I used a rolling pin) and spread the shards over the chocolate. This is pretty!
For fleur de sel: This may seem obvious, but it’s just fleur de sel. It can be as coarse or fine as you’d like to grind it.
For gingerbread: This was (I think) the best one. Smash up some gingersnaps or other gingercookies in a plastic bag until the largest pieces are about 1/2” across. Sprinkle these over the chocolate, preferably dark chocolate and spicy cookies, and enjoy.