Sunday, February 16, 2014

Homemade Chocolates

Here is a little more on the homemade chocolates I featured yesterday that were put inside the chocolate box. Homemade chocolates, unless making actual chocolate from scratch, always begin with good-quality chocolate. Evidently, the better quality chocolate you use, the better your final product will be. Big hunks of chocolate, sold in bulk stores, can be good options, as can squares and bars of fine European chocolate. Commercial chocolate squares also work. However, chocolate chips are not ideal because they are specially formulated to maintain their shape even with high heat, and will not melt properly. Homemade chocolates may be made with any type of chocolate - milk, white, dark, semi-sweet, but keep in mind that for constructing, darker chocolate works better than softer milk chocolate. Once you have decided on your type of chocolate, it must be appropriately melted:

Chocolate Melting Wafers: These are basically chocolate-flavored candy melting wafers. Flavors are limited, and usually only include light and dark cocoa. White chocolate wafers are not available but vanilla-flavored white wafers are. These wafers are incredibly versatile and easy to work with, and are just made for melting. However, they are not pure chocolate and therefore their flavor is poor for quality chocolate making. The taste very sweet and artificial. They are good to use as modelling chocolate though (see {Candy Clay} ).
Melted Chocolate: Any type of chocolate may be melted in the microwave, on the stovetop, or over a bowl of hot water. In order to avoid overheating or unevenly heating the chocolate, the bowl of hot water is the best way to go. 
Tempered Chocolate: Tempered chocolate is the best way to go. Tempering is essentially a precised way of melting any type of chocolate is order to ensure proper melting. Tempered chocolate will be shinier and ore stable than just regular melted chocolate. It is also quite easy and takes no longer than any other method of melting. 

I used tempered dark chocolate for my chocolates, as well as a little melted white chocolate. Because I only used a small amount of white chocolate and the shine does not come through the white color, I didn't bother tempering it. Then I piped some filigree shapes onto waxed paper - doing some outlines in one color, allowing it to harden, and piping or filling in more with the other type of chocolate. I also used some flower shaped candy molds to make some flour chocolates. I used a piping bag to fill the centers with white chocolate, then piped dark chocolate into the molds once the white hardened to fill the flower petals. I tried both piping and spoon chocolate into molds, and found piping to be faster and easier. Chocolate-making is fun, and you can make any shapes imaginable so be creative. It doesn't require special molds either, you can make flat shapes on paper or go fishing around in cupboards and use whatever items you have on hand to create something unique. 

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