Homemade chocolates

Homemade chocolates

Every Christmas I like to try and make something different for presents, last year it was chutney and jam, this year I thought I’d try making chocolates. They are fun and not too hard to make, though a little fiddly but are incredibly luxurious tasting presents.

Homemade chocolates

Homemade chocolates

I’ve been testing them on my colleagues at the British Lung Foundation (BLF) so I can make the perfect ones for Christmas. We had the first ever Great BLF Bake Off, the ideal opportunity to try and make some impressive chocolates.

There are two parts to making chocolates, you have the ganache and the melted chocolate.

Homemade chocolates

Homemade chocolates

What you need:

To make about 18 chocolates

250g of the best quality dark chocolate you can find (at least 70% cocoa content)

Ganache
80 ml double cream
100g good-quality 70% dark chocolate

Equipment
Silicon chocolate moulds
Heat resistant spatula
Saucepan
Heat resist and bowl

Making chocolate filling ganache
Ganache is a fantastic way to get different flavours into your chocolates – this is when you can let yourself be as creative as you want. I have made a few different flavours so far which include vanilla, rum, chilli, walnut and peanut butter.

Break up your chocolate in a bowl. Add your double cream to the saucepan and heat the cream – but you don’t want it to boil. Just before the cream comes to a boil add about half of it to the chocolate and stir – the cream’s role is to melt the chocolate. If the rest of your cream has cooled down reheat it and slowly add to the chocolate and continuously stir it to make sure it all melts.

If you want different flavours for your fillings separate the ganache into separate bowls and then add the different flavours. Add as little or as much as you like of each (though if you are adding a liquid be careful not to put too much or it will be too liquidy).

When you have added your flavours cover each bowl with cling film and put in the fridge – this will help it harden.

Your ganache will last for about 2 weeks in the fridge.

Making your chocolates

The trick to tempering your chocolate

Tempering chocolate

Tempering chocolate

The most important thing when making chocolates is tempering (melting) your chocolate properly. If the chocolate over-heats your chocolates won’t have a glistening colour and snappy texture, and with gradually develop a white film over them – which is very disappointing after all the effort that goes into making chocolates.

I’ve never been very good at tempering chocolate and think it is a little down to my lack of patience but after a disappointing batch of chocolates I am prepared to wait as long as I need to ensure my chocolates shine!

Melt your chocolate in a bain-marie (water bath), a technique used to slowly melt the chocolate at a low temperature. In the past my bowl has touched the boiling water but I have found it’s better to have your bowl sitting in the pan and not touching the water, so that only the steam is heating the bowl and chocolate.

Some people use thermometers to ensure their chocolate doesn’t go past a certain temperature but my little trick is to boil water in a kettle add it to the saucepan and add my bowl of chocolate and not turn on the heat. I leave the chocolate to slowly melt and stir. Once the water temperature stops melting the chocolate, remove the bowl, turn on the heat and re-boil the water, then turn the heat off and put the bowl over the water again – continuously stir your chocolate with a spatula. The chocolate should be smooth and silky and not gluppy or lumby.

Filling the sides of the moulds
Now that your chocolate is melted you want to fill the bottom and sides of your moulds – the shell of the chocolates. I use a small spoon for the bottom of the moulds and then a tooth pick or wooden skewer for the sides – dipping it in the chocolate and then covering the sides. You don’t need the chocolate to be too thick.

Fill bottom of mould

Fill bottom of mould

As you fill the bottom of your moulds, gently hit them on your kitchen surface. This will remove any trapped air in the chocolate.

Chocolate on the sides of the moulds

Chocolate on the sides of the moulds

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Leave your moulds at room temperature (my kitchen is usually the best and coolest room) to cool.

At no point do you want to put your chocolate in the fridge – this will make them whiten.

Filling your moulds with ganache

Add the ganache

Add the ganache

Once your chocolate has set – this can take around 30minutes to an hour – you can add your ganache. Use a spoon or pipe (I use a small spoon) and fill them about 3/4 of the way.

Completing your chocolates
Re-melt your chocolate – this shouldn’t take long and a boiled kettle should be enough.

Fill the moulds

Fill the moulds

Using a spoon or pipe fill your moulds and continually hit on your kitchen surface to remove trapped air.

Remove all the air

Remove all the air

Once filled leave your filled moulds at room temperature to harden. They should easily pop out of the moulds when done.

Making a Christmas present
Cut a small square/ rectangle of cardboard, cover with some Christmassy material, I use cello tape on the bottom. Place chocolates on the cardboard. Cover with transparent plastic paper – using a little cello tape again at the bottom to hold. Then tie a pretty bow around it to give that finishing touch.

Enjoy!
Mel

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