Good morning everyone,
It feels like all I’ve been making lately are treats. While we’ve been eating very healthy, circumstances have led to a number of treat baking sessions – awesome neighbour helpfulness and the birth of a new baby girl in our family. So today, I’m making a chocolate tray for the proud new mom and dad to serve to the countless number of visitors they will have in the coming weeks.
In my baking pantry, I had some dark chocolate, semi-sweet chocolate, milk chocolate and even some white chocolate and a bunch of candy molds, so I decided to make a number of flavours of chocolates for the tray.
There are several methods of melting and tempering chocolate and a number of types of chocolate you can use. Today, I will show you two methods of melting the chocolates for your molds.
Method 1 – microwave
Break your baking chocolate or chocolate bar and place it in a microwave safe bowl, or pour your chocolate chips into a microwave safe bowl. Heat the chocolate on high for 30 seconds. Remove the bowl and stir the mixture well. Heat for an additional 30 seconds at a time until the chocolate is melted and shiny. Allow to cool appropriately before flavouring, adding nuts or fruit, and pouring into molds. See notes below.
Method 2 – double boiler
Break your baking chocolate or chocolate bar and place it in a heat safe bowl, or pour your chocolate chips into a heat safe bowl. In a medium pot bring about 1 1/2 cups water to a boil then reduce to a simmer. Place your bowl over the mouth of the pot, ensuring that the bottom of the bowl does not touch the top of the water. Stir the chocolate well until thoroughly melted and shiny. Allow to cool appropriately before flavouring, adding nuts or fruit, and pouring into molds. See notes below.
Flavouring with dried spices
There are a number of dried spices you can choose to flavour your chocolate – cinnamon, ground anise seed, ground cardamom, ground fennel, chili powder, rose petals, saffron or ground cloves are some of my favourites. You do not need to cool your chocolate much before adding dried spices, dried spices will not cause chocolate to seize. In fact, I found the flavours are fuller and more aromatic when added while the chocolate is still hot. Simple add the desired amount and stir thoroughly.
Flavouring with nuts
Ensure nuts are well dry roasted before adding to your chocolate. Salted nuts work okay but, in my experience, dry roasted, unsalted nuts work best. Ensure that any nut “skin” is removed before adding to your chocolate. Cooled, dry roasted nuts will not cause chocolate to seize. If you are adding them directly to your chocolate (rather than coating whole nuts), chop them up as desired and mix them into your chocolate when it has cooled somewhat (otherwise they tend to float).
Flavouring with extracts, waters and oils
I love adding rose water to white chocolate, and also extracts and oils. To do any of this though, allow your chocolate to cool to room temperature. Adding extracts, waters and oils to warm chocolate tends to cause it to seize. Once chocolate is seized you can recover it but … it’s not going to be reliable for molding hard chocolates. It can become a glaze or an ingredient for a cake or frosting, but it is unlikely to set.
Recovering Seized Chocolate
If you need to recover seized chocolate, add 1 teaspoon of boiling water to the chocolate at a time and stir like mad, until the chocolate has recovered it’s texture. Now that it is diluted with water, you can use it for glazing, frosting or for baking in a cake but it is unlikely to set properly into a mold or as truffles.
Pour a little chocolate into your molds using a spoon, measuring cup or other means. Once the mold is filled as desired, gently pick up the mold a few inches and let it drop to get all the air bubbles out and to level your chocolate.
You can add different types of chocolate to the same mold. If you want clean, even layers, you will need to let one type cool and set before adding the next.
You can also add different types of chocolate to the same mold and create patterns by running a toothpick through the layers. You will not want to allow the layers to set in this case.
You can “paint” details on your mold by using coloured white chocolate (or a contrasting chocolate. Allow the painted details to cool and set before adding the base chocolate into the mold. This will ensure your painted details don’t run as much as they otherwise could.
Smaller molds will take less time than larger molds to set. I generally allow all molds to set in the refrigerator for at least one hour for small molds, and up to three for chocolate bar molds. If you have the room, you can also just let them set overnight.
To remove chocolate from your mold, carefully follow the instructions written for your mold. Never immerse your chocolates or try to warm them up to remove them. You will destroy the details molded into the chocolate.
That’s it. Have fun!
Until next time,
Peace and love,