In my never ending quest to give the women in my life something to shake their heads about and possibly use against me someday, here's a third party account of a stupid-simple, dirt-cheap chocolate exploit I stumbled upon last weekend. For build and deployment instructions, see "To deploy this hack..." below.

[Maryam Scoble]

"So Saturday night, I was invited to a fabulous barbecue dinner at Liz Lawley’s house. After having a delicious dinner and some wonderful conversations with Liz and other guests I get ready to leave. It’s almost midnight; I know Liz needs some rest and I want to get home and wait for Robert to arrive from his trip back from CES at Las Vegas. As I am saying my goodbyes around the room, I get to Korby Parnell who tells me I should stay a bit longer. He is busy in the kitchen, working on some mysterious fruit concoction. But it’s late, I say, and I should really get going. Now it is not easy to say no to Korby, mind you. He is a handsome devil with piercing blue eyes and as passionate and persuasive as a son of a southern evangelist could be. When he sees me hesitating he adds, but Maryam you are one of my favorite people and I really want you to try this, pointing to his creation in the making. Ahhhhh, he’s got the charm going and my curiosity is rising, but I am still not sold. So Korby points to a stainless steel bowl and says: smell this. Inside, there is a gooey, soft and chocolatey liquid that smells sinfully sweet and turns out to be melted French truffles. In a matter of minutes, Korby has all the ladies gathered around the kitchen table, sticking sweet and juicy pieces of fruit into the hot, melting chocolate and singing his praises. As I put a big piece of chocolate covered banana in my mouth, Korby turns to me and says: Well, are you happy you stayed? Was it worth it? I don’t have to answer his questions as he can tell from my satisfied smile that it was worth every minute."

My first reaction to this post was 'Aw shucks'. My second reaction was, 'Aw sh!$t, I hope Robert doesn't think that I...' :-). Maryam is a sweet butterfly but romantic interest she is not. Truth be told, I deployed my chocolate hack to persist a late-night conversation with Maryam and three of the brightest stars in social computing: Lili Cheng, Shelly Farnsworth, and Liz Lawley. If Nancy White could have stayed that late and if danah and Lilia could have been there, we would've had a choco-bachanal of the Women of the Social Computing Revolution. Alas, I guess I'll have to wait for the symposium to experience my choco-bachanal.

To deploy this hack, here's what you do:
Buy a box of the best darned Chocolate Truffles* you can find along with three (3) or more of your favorite fruits. I used what I had on hand: pineapple, pears, and bananas but I was dismayed by the monochromatic homogeneity of my final spread. When selecting your fruit, strive for a diversity in color, sweetness, tartness, acidity, and texture. Wash your hands with soap and warm water. Next, cut the fruit into bite-sized chunks and array them around the edges of a large plate. Take two stainless steel bowls of different sizes. Fill 20% of the larger bowl with 150F water (~50C) and deposit your truffles into the smaller bowl. Place the small bowl inside the large bowl, atop the hot water, making sure that none of the water spills into the smaller bowl. This is referred to as a 'hot water batch', for what appear to be obvious reasons. Floor spillage is okay. Let sit for 2-3 minutes and then gently stir the contents with something other than your finger.

Invite your consumer(s) to smell the melting chocolate but do not allow premature finger dipping under any circumstances. This is a social hack and an error free deployment hinges upon your ability to build suspense without fanfare or theatrics . Trust the Truffles!

After another 2-3 minutes, stir gently and slowly, again and again until you have a lump-free and completely viscous chocolate goo. Quickly, wash your hands with soap and warm water (yes, again) without taking your eyes off the chocolate. The risk of premature consumption is especially high at this point. Finally, remove the small bowl from its water bath and approximate it to the fruit and consumer(s). Using your thumb and forefinger, dip the fruit into the chocolate and then plop it into your mouth. If your consumer(s) is a romantic interest, I suggest you feed them the first bite, an act which could be considered the sexiest or least selfless act in the world. Enjoy!

*If you still use VB6 or you think that ASP.NET is to web application development what flouride is to water (a government conspiracy), feel free to use any chocolate you want because there's nothing I can say that you'll believe and you prefer to do things the old-fashoned way anyway. ;-)  If you don't know what a truffle is, don't worry. I didn't until know until recently, either. I thought they were mushrooms. You should be able to ask for them in most grocery stores around the world. If not, you can order them online. I strongly recommend Lake Champlain Chocolates.