This week’s calendar is loaded with excellent opportunities to enjoy everything our area has to offer. And if you are still not in the holiday spirit, you will be: Just go check out The ACT’s hilarious production of “The Best Christmas Ever,” or enjoy Theatre Tuscaloosa’s stellar “A Christmas Carol.” The Tuscaloosa Barnyard is doing “A Country Christmas,” and several other area businesses are holding holiday-themed events.
Ho ho ho!
This year marks the 27th year of Northport’s annual Dickens Downtown, a Victorian Christmas celebration sponsored by the Northport Merchants Association.
Dressed in traditional period costumes, carolers and characters will stroll the streets of historic downtown Northport. Visitors can also enjoy arts and crafts demonstrations, a Holiday Market from Kentuck, and even a visit from Father Christmas.
Hooray for December in T-Town and Northport! This week features a ton of outstanding holiday happenings to get you in the spirit, including the Christmas Parade, the opening of Holidays on the River, Dickens Downtown, and more.
41st Annual West Alabama Christmas Parade, PARA: NOTE: Moved from Monday because of rain. Dec. 8, downtown Tuscaloosa. Parade begins at 6:30 p.m. For more information, visit tcpara.org.
Holidays on the River Grand Opening: Dec. 6, Tuscaloosa Amphitheater. With Ice skating, music and dance performances and more, there is something for the entire family. Tickets to skate may be purchased online at Ticketmaster.com or at the Tuscaloosa Amphitheater box office on-site. Viewing admission is free of charge. For more information, visit holidaysontheriver.com
Dickens Downtown: Dec. 6, 5 p.m. to 8 p.m., historic downtown Northport. This community supported Victorian holiday gathering celebrates the true spirit of Christmas. Free event. For more information, visit dickens-downtown.com.
WHEN: Friday, December 23rd from 10-3pm
*Seatings are limited. Please call ahead for reservations.
Making chocolate truffles typically requires expert knowledge of chocolate. Tempering chocolate, while possible to learn, is a bit of an art. Even chocolatiers fight bloom (where the cocoa butter leaves streaks in the chocolate) when the weather changes or in times of high heat.
But there is a way that you can make delicious chocolate truffles, in whatever flavor you want, in minutes at home. Literal minutes. You may regret learning this technique because it could be dangerous for your diet
The trick is…..
coconut oil and your refrigerator. Shhhhhh - don't tell
It’s a bit of a cheat. The coconut oil works with the chocolate and helps it stay together, but also hardens in the refrigerator and provides the texture of the traditional coating on truffles. The filling is the same as traditional truffles The candies will not be able to stay out of the fridge for an extended time without getting a bit soft especially if your room is warm, but they are as delicious as the ones you find in high end chocolate shops.
Don't be intimidated by all the words in the recipe. It really is just melting some stuff in the microwave, rolling it up and sticking it in the fridge.
Handmade Chocolate Truffles
4 oz chocolate (Callebaut 70% is our favorite, but any good quality chocolate bar will work. Store brand chocolate chips will work too)
1.5 oz heavy whipping cream
1 teaspoon oil based flavoring (like orange oil) or 2 teaspoons liqueur
4oz dark chocolate (same brand)
1/2 oz coconut oil
Pour whipping cream into a microwave safe bowl. Pour 1/2 the chopped (chocolate chip size) chocolate into the bowl. Microwave for 30 seconds. Mix well. Microwave for 15 seconds and mix well again until the mixture is smooth. May need to heat up for another 15 seconds if the mixture still has chocolate chunks.
Put mixture in the refrigerator to firm up (can stick it in the freezer if you are in a real hurry, but don’t let it freeze. You just need the mixture firm enough to roll in a ball.)
Once the mixture is firm, scoop a small amount out and gently roll into a ball shape (if you have a small melon baller, this will help with keeping the size uniform).
Place on a plate until ready to dip.
Melt the coconut oil or butter and remaining chocolate in the microwave for 30 seconds to make the coating. Mix well until it is smooth and all one consistency. Of it needs an extra 15 seconds to get all the chunks melted, that’s fine. The coconut oil keeps the chocolate from blooming. This means you don't have to be a professional to have good results.
Place an uncovered 1 inch (size is merely a suggestion) ball of filling on a fork and lower gently into the melted topping. Cover the filling ball with the chocolate and bring it out of the bowl with the fork.
Allow the excess topping to drip off and place on a plact or piece of parchment paper. Sprinkle toppings that match your flavor on top. Sea salt, crushed hard candies, , nuts, coffee beans and pieces of dried fruit make great decorations. Put these on the top when the chocolate is still wet.
Once you have covered all the balls, chill in your refrigerator until the chocolate coating is set. Usually takes about half an hour.
Place finished chocolates on an attractive plate or bowl.
For a gift presentation, places like Dollar Tree and Hobby Lobby have seasonal boxes that make great candy boxes. Line the box with a food safe material, like wax paper, before placing your truffles inside.
The Northport and Tuscaloosa community can support United Cerebral Palsy of West Alabama by participating in the Food Truck Festival on Friday, November 4 from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Nucor United Community Park, 1100 UCP Parkway. Sponsored by the Kiwanis Club of Greater Tuscaloosa, the event will help to fund some of the programs and services offered by UCPWA.
Enjoy your week, T-Town. And ROLL TIDE!
Sorority Row Trick or Treat: Oct. 24, 6 to 8 p.m. Sorority Row, Magnolia Drive, University of Alabama Campus. Children of Tuscaloosa (ages 12 and younger) are invited to dress up and visit sorority row for candy and games. Costumes are encouraged, but masks are not allowed for this family-friendly event. Hosted by the Alabama Panhellenic Association.
A Haunting at the Museum: Oct. 25, 5:30 to 8 p.m. The Alabama Museum of Natural History, UA campus. Is the UA campus haunted? Joint ALMNH and The Gorgas House Museum guides for candlit ghost walks around the Quad, ghostly stories in the Museum and spooky crafts for the kids. Free and fun for all ages. For more information, call (205) 348-7550.
Tech-or-Treat Night at Gateway: Oct. 25, 6 to 8 p.m. Tuscaloosa Gateway Innovation and Discovery Center (2614 University Blvd East). Hosted by the City of Tuscaloosa. Kids in costume can get treats (candy) and enjoy tech-related items, including virtual coloring books and cell phone accessories. For more information, contact Tuscaloosa 311.
Enjoy your week, T-Town. And ROLL TIDE!
Tuscaloosa Comedy Cafe: Oct. 18, 6:45-8:30 p.m. (Doors open at 6:30 p.m.) Bryant Conference Center, Tuscaloosa. This evening of fun features the humor of Jeff Allen and the teenagers of Tuscaloosa Youth for Christ. All proceeds benefit the work of YFC in the community. Tickets: $50. For reservations, call (205) 752-3361 or visit ttowncomedycafe.org.
West Alabama State Fair: Oct 19-23, Sokol Park. This year’s fair features rides, a rodeo, a petting zoo, monster truck rides, food vendors, live entertainment and more. All admission proceeds help to support United Cerebral Palsy of West Alabama. For more information, visit westalabamastatefair.com.
Tuscaloosa Riverfront Advisory Commission Public Hearing: Oct. 19, 1:30 p.m. Council Chamber of City Hall (2201 University Boulevard). The purpose of this meeting is for the Tuscaloosa Riverfront Advisory Commission to review current development proposals within the Riverfront Development District (RD) and provide comments for such developments to be included in a report to the Planning Commission.
Dierks Bentley Somewhere on a Beach Tour 2016 (with Randy Houser): Oct. 19, 7 p.m. Tuscaloosa Amphitheater. Tickets available via Ticketmaster.com. For more information, visit Ticketmaster.com, call the Tuscaloosa Amphitheater Box Office at (205) 248-5280 or charge by phone at (800) 745-3000.
October is really flying by. It’s a busy time in West Alabama, with a lot of great events. This week, you’ll find plenty of them. The weekend is absolutely packed with activities, not the least of which is the 45th Annual Kentuck Festival of the Arts. There’s also the 2016 Color Run, and the Brews, Blues & BBQ event at Band of Brothers. Have a blast enjoying all that our area has to offer!
An Evening of Poetry and Music: Oct. 11, 7:30 p.m. Bean Brown Theatre on the Shelton State Martin Campus. The Shelton State Community College Music Department presents this collaborative work, which includes musical performances by Shelton State students and poetry readings by Shelton State faculty and staff.
UA Theatre & Dance Presents “Alabama Repertory Dance Theatre”: Oct. 11-13 (7:30 p.m.), Oct. 14 (5:30 p.m.), Morgan Auditorium at Morgan Hall. Alabama Repertory Dance ARDT is hosting the world premiere of Qianping Guo’s ballet The Trainer. This new ballet is about the intimate relationship between animals and their trainer at a circus. Tickets: $20 (adults), $17 (seniors and UA faculty/staff), $14 (students/children).
Junior League of Tuscaloosa’s “Dinner at Your Door”: Oct. 13, 3 to 5:30 p.m. The JLT’s fundraiser allows area residents to order specially prepared meals from several local restaurants and vendors – and have them delivered right to their door by Junior League members! For more information, and to order, visit jltuscaloosa.org.
If you’ve ever wanted to know the secrets that lie behind some of Tuscaloosa’s most haunted properties, you now have the chance with Haunted Tuscaloosa Tours.