A huge hit
“Award-winning” truffles made by the robotics team
By Marie Aloia with Anish Patel, captain of team 3774
Our high school was hosting a state-wide robotics competition, where robotics teams from all over the U.S. come together to test the science, engineering and technology behind the robots they made, to see if they can outcompete the robots of other teams in specific tasks. By tradition, the hosting team provides refreshments for visitors as a team fundraiser. So with the two teams I coach at our school, we put together our usual menu of drinks, snacks and lunch items, based on what sold well in previous years. Home-baked goods are always a crowd-pleaser, so we shared some ideas: maybe brownies or chocolate-chip cookies. Then we got the idea for the truffles.
One of the team captains had found a recipe for homemade Oreo truffles and had brought some to school for one of his classes. They were a huge hit. For our event, he had even done the math to find the cost of a single truffle so we could set an appropriate price. All that remained was a plan to make them.
The Friday before our event was an in-service training for teachers, so the students did not have school. But both teams decided to come to school anyway to work in my classroom on their robots and the truffles. As the administration had asked them to wait until I was available after training, they were there waiting promptly at 1pm to get started.
Until 8pm, my science classroom was a fury of activity: robots being tested and fixed, documentation and team preparation, and a truffle-making assembly line. While the truffles don’t require baking, the chocolate coating had to be melted. Since my classroom only has a laboratory hot plate, I loaned the students a special pot I use for melting chocolate. At the end of the day they bagged about 200 truffles for sale. Of course, a portion of the last batch was reserved for “quality control,” to put it in proper engineering jargon, to be sampled by all the workers. Everyone approved.
On the day of the state meet, the truffles sold slowly at first. Then the adults discovered them and sales suddenly accelerated! In the afternoon, one customer bought the last 20 and shared them with all the volunteers at the meet, including the school janitors and even the judges, who had heard about the truffles earlier that morning when the team had been interviewed and told the story of how they worked together to make this huge batch.
In this robotics program, teams are judged on their technical ability as well as their ability to work well as a team. Some of those awards even outrank technical awards. To the students’ surprise, their team won the “Motivate” award, given to the team “that clearly demonstrates what it means to be a team.” The judges made particular note of the story of the truffle-making project in determining their choice. Among the team members this recipe is now called “the award winning truffles.” Enjoy!
Oreo Truffles (makes about 40)
One 14-oz bag regular Oreo cookies
One 8-oz package cream cheese
(low fat may be used, but not fat-free)
Two 4-oz bars of semi-sweet baking chocolate
Crush the cookies down to a fine crumble, using a food processor or by pounding them in a plastic Ziploc bag.
Reserve a few tablespoons of the crumbs to sprinkle on the outside of the finished truffles. Blend the cream cheese into the cookie crumbs to form a kind of dough.
Roll the cookie dough into teaspoon-sized balls, and lay them on a tray covered with waxed paper or parchment. Refrigerate them at least 30 minutes.
In the meantime, melt the baking chocolate under a low heat or in a double boiler, stirring often. Drop truffles one at a time into the melted chocolate and retrieve with two forks, letting excess chocolate drip back into the bowl. Then return the truffle to the tray and sprinkle with cookie crumbs. Keep truffles refrigerated until use.
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