Sunday, March 7, 2010

For the Love of Chocolate!

Attic Gal Rachelle says;

Just before Valentine's day, my friend Shari and I decided to get together to make a few chocolates for Valentines day, but as these things often go, our ideas ran away with what kinds and flavors of fillings we should try, and before we knew it we were happily in the thick of an all-day chocolate making extravaganza! Oh how sweet it is! (Chocolate has that effect on us, I guess.)

While I do realize that Valentine's day is over, I also know that, blessedly, chocolate is always in season, and we really shouldn't have to wait for Christmas or Valentines to have a reason to spend a day up to our elbows in warm and silky chocolate. At least I, for one, don't need a reason.
Shari is an excellent chocolatier, and I was so excited to get to study under the master. She made the fondant for the centers the night before. Apparently that is quite a labor intensive process, but I was not there for that. I came in the morning, when the hard part was deciding what flavors to make the basic fondant.

Decisions, decisions.

We divided the fondant and began to experiment a bit. In the end we came up with toasted almond in milk chocolate, mint in milk chocolate, toasted coconut in milk chocolate, and cranberry orange in white chocolate. I also brought to the table my signature Oreo truffles in dark chocolate.

We also wanted to make caramels, and chocolate dipped pretzels, but, alas, ran out of time.

Once our centers were all mixed and rolled we were ready for the fun part - the CHOCOLATE!

Shari taught me all about how to bring it to temperature, or temper, the chocolate properly. We melted most of the chocolate in the microwave until it was melted, stirring often. Then we added more room temp chocolate to bring down the temperature.

If you are not sure if the chocolate is cool enough, put a bit of it on your upper lip. If it is even a slight bit warm, it is not ready. That was my favorite part! I must say, we looked quite smart in our chocolate mustaches!

Shari taught me that the only way to properly dip chocolates is by hand - literally. The whole hand goes into the chocolate, scoops up a palmful, then the center is dropped by the other "clean" hand into the chocolate laden palm where it rolled around single-handedly until it is perfectly coated in the sinful stuff. Then the "chocolate" hand carefully sets it on the parchment-lined tray. That part is a bit tricky because you want to make it look just right.

It is quite the assembly line, but a heavenly one, I must say! Dipping chocolates is a very sensory rich experience: the thick, sweet smell, the velvety brown color, and the feel of the smooth warm wet chocolate - everywhere!

Oh yes, and it tastes good too!

We drizzled the coconut ones in with wisps of white chocolate, and the mint ones we made extra small, drizzled in a green tinted chocolate, and doubled them up in the paper cups. The Oreo truffles were sprinkled with crushed Oreos, and the orange cranberry white chocolate truffles we topped with little red hearts we painted on with our fingertips! The almond ones we wrapped some in festive red foils.

We ate the ugly ones, of course.

In the end, I can't tell you how many pounds of chocolates we made. Let me just say it was enough to cover a very large kitchen island!

Then we packaged our assorted chocolates! They were utterly divine!

I stamped cute little tags with embossed chocolates for the boxes that I tied with a big ribbon.

I also found these darling tiny white heart boxes in sets of 8 at the dollar store for individual little chocolates! I just topped them with punched hearts and more embossed chocolates. The girls loved them!

What a fun day! Thanks Shari! I learned so much. (And I firmly believe that the more you know about chocolate, the better!) This will have to be a Valentines' tradition, I think. A day with friends and chocolate is a day well spent!

But don't wait for Valentines day. I think St. Patty's Day is a perfectly good reason to dip chocolates, don't you?


  1. Just delightful! Beautiful pictures!

  2. Hey RAchelle, please post the recipes, these look wonderful? How did they taste?