In my previous blog, I gave you a super simple, all-so-easy recipe for Christmas Joy Balls. No fuss, minimal ingredients and Bob's your uncle; you have a share-plate everyone will drool over.
Quick and simple isn't always on the cards though. I love learning and pushing boundaries. I love to test my limits by trying new activities or taking on new skills. Which is why this post is a little more daring...okay, a lot more daring. Are you going to step outside your comfort zone with me?
If you want to feel a big burst of pride over something incredible you made with your own two hands, this is the perfect place to start. The end result far outweighs your efforts. Wow factor!
This is a topic close to my heart. Christmas luxury & chocolate combined!
You will require some equipment for this process. Some high moulds (deep moulds) that are suitable for chocolates and either an infra-red thermometer (chefs preferred choice) or instant-read thermometer to accurately read the temperature of your chocolate as you go.
I love the fun and luxury of Christmas and this recipe idea fits the bill with plenty of loaded benefits:
- Learning new skills
- Getting outside my comfort zone
- Slowing down (I can sometimes go too fast!)
- Sharing my passion for great treats with my office, family and friends
- Connecting with food
It's great to have a deeper connection to your food than just selecting it from the supermarket trolley. Growing your own fruits and veg, herbs or even editable flowers provides a natural connection to what you consume. This gets an even bigger boost if you can give back to the cycle with home composting and/or worm farms.
I'm hoping my bold move will inspire you to head to the kitchen and get creating.
Q: Why make your own chocolates?
A: You can:
- Make something with the best ingredients for far cheaper than pre-made
- It tastes better when you make it yourself
- Create to your exact tastes
- Package them up for gifts to friends, co-workers or those local businesses-providers who have been doing it tough through 2020.
I'm a fan of chocolate and no secret in our office that a chocolate run is necessary for emergencies. I can feel great about that because I'm so dedicated to a lifestyle that balances work with fun and treats with exercise and really healthy foods.
I do like quality chocolate though. I tell myself it's better for me, but it's also far more satisfying.
I just love chocolate. The better the quality the bigger the taste and more importantly, the more satisfying the experience is.
This is my first try at creating something as amazing as filled chocolates. I wanted Christmas chocolate moulds but wasn't able to find any in time, I could have got some online but I didn't want to wait for delivery....hahaha. That's extra funny because the big part about choosing this recipe is all about patience.
The big thing about using chocolate moulds is tempering the chocolate before using it. It takes time and patience, it's just not something you can rush. That's the point where I thought, Okay, I have to do this!
So tempering is when you adjust the temperature a lot, going up and down by heating and cooling. It's really good to do if you are using chocolate for dipping too.
What you get from that extra work is that glossy look when they are done, like little gemstones. They also pop out of the moulds more easily. It also has that crispness when you bite down, 'crack', and it also won't melt so much on your fingers.
In the end, I went with heart mould and I've seen a lot of comments that high moulds are best, so I've got a good high mould shape to get in plenty of filing and a nice thick coating of dark chocolate.
You can use any chocolate type you like, white, milk or a marble blend. You can also fill it with anything you want to. I'm going with raspberries because they are fresh here at the moment and I thought it would add to that heart theme. You can also use fresh strawberry or any kind of frozen berries. For my first run, I've decided to combine the red berries with a white chocolate ganache for a soft, swirly look.
Because chocolate is so sensitive you never want to cook it directly over a heat source or add any water.
Here are the surprisingly simple steps to follow.
This quantity makes around 15 high-mould chocolates
1/2 cup raspberries (fresh or frozen)
1 Tablespoon sugar
1 Tablespoon water
White Chocolate Ganache
2 Tablespoons whipping cream (heavy cream)
100g white chocolate
1 1/2 teaspoons cocoa nibs (for a bit of crunch and raw chocolate taste)
200g dark chocolate (55%-70%)
Were going to start with the raspberry filling first.
Using a small saucepan, bring the raspberries, sugar and water to the boil.
Stir for 1 to 2 minutes and remove from the heat. It's best to use a fine sieve to remove the seeds. Set aside for later.
Now for the white chocolate ganache
Place your white chocolate pieces in a large bowl. It's best to use a glass bowl or double boiler pot for this, in case you need to heat it over steam to help with mixing.
Place the cream in a small clean saucepan and bring to a very light simmer. When hot pour the cream over the chocolate and allow the heat from the cream to melt the bowl's contents. Stir to mix through.
Tip: If you find that your chocolate is not thoroughly melted you can place the bowl over a pot of boiling water for one minute or so and allow the steam and heat from the pot to warm the bowl. This won't take long. Be sure to remove from the heat as soon as possible.
If you are using cocoa nibs for that extra bite now is the time to add them to your mix. Stir to combine.
Now complete your filling!
All you need to do is gently add the raspberry puree. Give it a few slow swirls with a spoon to get that marbled effect.
Set aside while you prepare the chocolate coating.
Now for the testing part: Chocolate shells
Start by measuring your chosen chocolate type (I'm going with dark) into two parts.
160g and 40g
For this part of the process, you will need an instant-read thermometer or an infra-red thermometer to accurately read the temperature of your chocolate.
Place the larger portion (160g) into a heatproof bowl and sit above some simmering water. The container should not touch the water. The heat from the rising steam will be enough to gently warm the chocolate.
Stir gently and use your thermometer to check the heat. Once your chocolate reaches 40-45 C remove from the simmering water container.
Now you will gradually add the smaller portion of unmelted chocolate (40g). Stir until smooth.
Here's where we get to tempering. Keep stirring gently until the temperature drops to 30-31 degrees. It will depend a bit on your room temperature but it will probably take around 10 to 15 minutes.
Once you get to that magic 30-31C mark the chocolate is ready to use.
Keep an eye on the temperature as you go. If your chocolate cools below 29C simply place it back over the steaming water but this time only allow it to reach a maximum of 30-31 C before removing it again.
Here is your second challenge. The moulds!!!
Pour your tempered chocolate into the mould and tilt the moulds on different angles to help the chocolate cover every corner and side. You can also use a pastry brush to get into the nooks and difficult edges as well.
It's normal for your moulds to look messy and for the chocolate to be spread all over. This is no time to look neat!
Too much chocolate inside your mould? Totally okay too, simply turn the mould upside-down over the bowl of tempered chocolate and let any excess fall out.
You can also use a pastry scraper to scrape off any excess.
Let the mould cool.
Tip: You can place the mould in the fridge for 20 minutes to help speed up the cooling time, or if you are in a real rush, place in the freezer for 10 minutes.
If you feel your coating is too thin you can add another coat of chocolate using the same process as before once the first shell has completely cooled. Then cool again before adding the filling.
Once the chocolate is hard you can spoon the filling into the shells.
Cover over the filling with a final layer of tempered chocolate. Scrape off the excess using a pastry scraper so that the base of the chocolate will be flat and sit nicely when removed from the mould.
By this stage, your filling should be at the right room temperature, having been set aside through the chocolate process and cooling stages.
This is it. Just leave the mould to cool. Again you can place them in the refrigerator for 20 minutes to speed the process if you like.
When hard, remove from the moulds and serve or wrap as gifts.
Because of the fresh cream and berries, these won't keep for long. You can put them in the fridge for a few days but the are best eaten within 24 hours so be quick!!!