There’s Chocolate, Then There’s Chocolate

Sigh, there are many, many varieties of chocolate, and so little time.

I am a fan of dark chocolate, (not intense 85%+ cacoa but a nice 52-70%.) I find the flavor more intense than milk chocolate (34%) and of course there are the currently purported health benefits of dark chocolate. Not only do I have to contend with percent cacao but also many different manufacturers. I should probably create a spreadsheet for them all.

I am also experimenting with fillings for chocolate candies, a tough job, but someone really should do it. Last month I made two new fillings, buttercream and fresh raspberry/chocolate ganache. Both were excellent, but I wanted some candies with a soft gooey filling.

This morning I made a batch with some Guittard 46% semi-sweet baking chips I picked up at the grocery story a couple of weeks ago. I thought these might be a good compromise between the dark that I like and the milk chocolate that Fran prefers.

I tempered the chocolate, coated the inside of a heart shaped silicone mold and let it cure. This morning I made a batch of cream filling and divided it into two. One was flavored with peppermint to make some gooey peppermint patties, the other with vanilla for plain vanilla chocolates.

I want to make this same recipe but flavor with fresh strawberry or raspberry or orange ganache. I am experimenting with fillings as much as I am with different chocolates.

Homemade Peppermint or Vanilla Patties

INGREDIENTS

• ½ – ¾ cup sweetened condensed milk (amount depends on desired consistency)

• 1 ½ teaspoons peppermint extract (optional)

• 339g (3 cups) powdered sugar

Optional Dipping Chocolate or use tempered chocolate in mold

• 8 ounces dark chocolate chopped

• 2 teaspoons oil

METHOD

1. In a medium size bowl mix the sweetened condensed milk, peppermint extract, and powdered sugar together. Add more sweetened condensed milk until mixed to viscosity desired.

2. Divide dough into number of flavors desired and place each portion in a small bowl

3. Add flavorings and mix well.

4. Pipe filling to fill each chocolate well to within 1/8” of the top of the well

5. Let set for 10 minutes

6. Add enough tempered chocolate to each well to seal the filling inside.

7. Scape bottom of mold to remove excess chocolate

8. Store the peppermint patties in the fridge until ready to be served! Enjoy!

A Truffle Trifle

After I finished the caramels and before the chocolate lost its temper (and had a hissy fit) I coated the inside of a silicone candy mold with the leftover chocolate. I left it in the fridge until today. (I should have taken a picture before filling. Dang!)

Beyond what I used to coat the mold I had some chocolate left over from making the chocolate coated caramels and thought, “Hmmm… I also have some raspberries in the fridge that I need to use soon.” Well, one thing led to another so I made some chocolate covered raspberry/chocolate truffles.

I made the raspberry ganache using the recipe below, filled each well of the mold leaving some room at the top to cover with more chocolate. I didn’t bother re-tempering the tops of the chocolates and they seem fine. Actually, the tops become the bottoms of the chocolates once they are removed from the mold.

The ganache stays nice and soft and the raspberry/chocolate flavor was excellent. I may try less chocolate in the ganache next time to make the flavor a bit more raspberry forward.

I also want a nice chocolate covered vanilla cream center, and maybe a nice peppermint filling too.

Chocolate Raspberry Truffles Recipe
INGREDIENTS
• 1 package (10 oz.) fresh raspberries
• 1/4 cup powdered sugar
• 1 lb. semisweet chocolate chips – try with 1⁄2 lb. chocolate chips
• 3/4 cup cream
• 2 tbsp. light corn syrup
• One candy mold coated with tempered chocolate
OR Alternatively
• 1 lb. chocolate candy coating (for dipping)


METHOD

  1. Blend or food process the raspberries until they are liquid. Sieve the raspberry puree into a small saucepan.
  2. Add the powdered sugar to the raspberry puree and heat it over medium heat, stirring frequently, until it is thick and syrupy and reduced by about half. Remove the puree from heat and set aside.
  3. Place the chocolate chips in a large bowl and heat the cream (I microwave in 30 sec intervals) until bubbles start to form around the edges, but do not allow it to come to a full boil. Once simmering, pour the hot cream over the chopped chocolate and allow it to sit for a minute or two to soften and melt the chocolate before whisking the chocolate and cream together gently, until the chocolate is melted and the mixture is smooth and homogenous.
  4. Add the corn syrup and raspberry puree to the chocolate mixture, and whisk it all together. Cover the surface of the raspberry ganache with cling wrap, and refrigerate until it is thickened.
  5. Add enough raspberry ganache to each tempered chocolate coated mold to within 1/8” of the top. Cover the top of each mold well with melted chocolate. It doesn’t appear to need to be tempered at this point. Chill and when nearly softened scape the bottom of the mold to remove excess chocolate.
    If you are going to dip the raspberry ganache in chocolate chill until it can be formed in small balls (1” or less diameter) and placed on a lined cookie sheet
  6. Alternative coating method:
  7. Using dipping tools or a fork, dip a truffle into the chocolate. Bring it out of the chocolate and allow the excess to drip back into the bowl. Place the coated truffle back onto the baking sheet and repeat with remaining truffles and chocolate.
  8. Place the truffles in the refrigerator to set the candy coating for about 30 minutes. If desired, you can melt red candy coating (or tint white coating with red candy coloring) and drizzle a small amount over the truffles decoratively.
  9. Place the candy coating in a large microwave-safe bowl. Microwave in one-minute increments until melted, stirring after every minute to prevent overheating. Stir until the coating is completely smooth. Allow the coating to cool until it is barely warm. Do not let it start setting up, but let it cool down so that it does not melt the truffle fillings.
  10. Chocolate raspberry truffles can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to two weeks.

Chewy Caramel Center

I love the holiday season! It’s one of the times of the year I can bake and experiment—nearly guilt free. Of course, I will pay for it starting after  the New Year.

2A39C5BC-5D6C-4215-B679-9A18FB58A700Last week I made hard caramels and embedded them them in tempered dark chocolate. They were fine, but what I really wanted were the soft caramel center and chocolate that melts in your mouth. I ticked all the boxes this morning.

 

I actually made the caramels last night and left them out to firm up overnight. This morning, they were pliable but firm enough to to hold their shape when cut. I ended up with about 80 one inch square, 1/4” thick squares of caramel.

Be sure to only cook the caramel to 237 degrees F, not 235 or 239, otherwise they will be too soft and not hold their shape, or to hard and chewy.

I used 67% cacao dark chocolate. I am going to try 52% semi sweet next time.

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 Cups Sugar
  • 1 Stick (½ cup) Butter
  • 1 Cup (288g) White Corn Syrup
  • ½ Tsp Kosher Salt
  • 12 oz can Evaporated Milk

METHOD

  1. Put the ingredients into a thick bottomed pot and heat, stirring constantly, until it reaches 237 deg.
  2. Pour the molten caramel into a parchment paper lined 8”x8” pan. (Smaller pan for thicker caramels) DO NOT use waxed paper. Hot caramel sticks to waxed paper.
  3. There is some discussion about adding the evaporated milk. Some people say add slowly (I did) and others say it doesn’t matter. I added about an oz every minute for 12 minutes. It required about 30 min for the caramel to reach the 237 deg.

Caramel on the Bay

It’s that time of year again. No, not a trip to Carmel, it’s time for chocolate covered caramel candies. I made a single recipe and formed it into a block 8”x8”x0.75”.

The block was cut into strips, about 1”x4” and those in turn were cut into small pieces for incorporation into the tempered chocolate. I have several silicone molds that require different sized caramels.

Each well of the mold was filled (about 4 at a time) and a piece of caramel was pushed into the well and covered. Once the chocolate hardened the excess was scraped off.

The extra caramel was cut into small pieces, wrapped in wax paper to be eaten, or given away.

CARAMELS

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 cup butter
  • 1 pound brown sugar (2 cups)
  • dash salt
  • 1 cup (288g) light corn syrup
  • 14 oz can sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 tsp vanilla

METHOD

  1. Melt the butter in 3 quart or larger saucepan.
  2. Add the brown sugar and salt and combine. Stir in the corn syrup, mix well.
  3. Gradually add the sweetened condensed milk, stirring constantly.
  4. Cook and stir over medium heat to firm ball stage (245°F) for harder caramels, 240°F for softer.
  5. Remove from heat, stir in vanilla. Pour into 9×9″ parchment-lined pan.
  6. Cool, cut into pieces and wrap in wax paper.

Tempering Chocolate

Stir constantly during the steps and avoid having moisture from coming in direct contact with the chocolate:

  1. Melt chocolate, in a double boiler, to the following temperatures as measured with a chocolate thermometer: Dark 120°F, Milk 115°F, White 110°F.
  2. Cool chocolate to the following temperatures: Dark 82°F, Milk 80°F, White 78°F.
  3. Reheat chocolate to the following temperatures: Dark 90°F, Milk 86°F, White 82°F.

It is now tempered.

KEEP CHOCOLATE IN TEMPER: Ideal temperatures are: Dark 88-90°F, Milk 86-88 degrees F, and white 82-84°F. If the chocolate hardens, you must start the tempering process again.

NOT Caramel by the Sea

I had some leftover caramel in the fridge. It was (almost) too soft to fill chocolates (see below) but too thick to top ice cream. What a dilemma! Over the weekend I re-heated it, being sure it was 248 degrees then poured it into a hemispherical silicone mold.

I have been practicing chocolate work so I figured this would be a good way to conserve caramel and increase tempering skills, and have some chocolates for quality control consumption.

As I said, I poured the 248F liquid caramel into a mold then tossed the mold into the fridge to set. I weighed and chopped 250 grams of semi-sweet dark chocolate. You want the chocolate to be very fine so it will melt easily during the tempering. Dark chocolate is tempered by melting about 2/3rds of the chopped chocolate in a bain-marie to 120F.
Remove Chocolate covered Caramel 1from the heat and add the remaining chocolate a little at a time waiting for each addition to melt. If after all the chocolate is added and melted the temperature is still above 82F stir until it cools to 82F. Then place it back on the barely simmering bain-marie until
it reaches 85-86F. Remove the pot containing the water and the bowl holding the melted chocolate and place it next to the caramel to be dipped. The temperature of the chocolate will continue to rise a few degrees and should hold at 88F to 90F. Dip each piece of caramel, or whatever you are coating, lift it out with a fork, drain and place on waxed paper. Repeat, repeat, repeat…

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I had some leftover chocolate so put some in a piping bag and set it aside to cool slightly. The rest I poured in the cleaned silicone mold to make some nice hard chocolate candies, or to re-melt sometime in the future. Who knows, I may decide to make more caramel to use up the extra chocolate I have waiting in the fridge.

Chocolate covered Caramel 2

When the chocolate in the piping bag was cooler but not set I snipped the end off and drizzled the lines of chocolate over the dipped chocolate to add some character.

A week ago I tried to make some chocolates for Fran’s Mah Jongg group by using the still soft caramel. They looked pretty, but it was hit or miss if there was much caramel in the chocolate candy. I also used milk chocolate which is much harder to work than the dark semi-sweet. Next I think I should make some more caramel, or maybe nougat and practice with the milk chocolate.

Chocolate covered Caramel 3