These are some chocolates I made for gift-giving at Christmas – I finally got to document them! I was inspired by Michael Recchiuti’s Chocolate Obsession, a beautiful tome that has recipes for many of his exotic creations, like his Key lime pears and star anise-pink peppercorn chocolates.
Candymaking has always made me nervous – the idea of tempering incorrectly and ruining several pounds of expensive Valrhona chocolate gives me fits. I finally used a Callebaut with a 65% cocoa content – dark, but not too bitter. I figured it was a good overall choice for the different flavors I was making, as I didn’t have the time or space for multiple pots of tempered chocolate!
Another note about tempering chocolate – I find I am much more successful with dark chocolate. Whenever I try to temper milk chocolate, I will sometimes get the desired glossy streak-free result, and other times I will get a clumpy mess (hence the other reason the chose dark chocolate for this project!) I’ve sometimes been tempted by those fancy tempering machines in the cooks’ catalogs, but the high prices always put me off. Besides, there is something exciting about successfully tempering by hand – taking chunks of chocolate and turning them into a velvety smooth liquid, slowly stirring and checking until you feel the right resistance against your spoon, then dipping your fillings in (or pouring over your waiting cake), and waiting for the lovely shiny finish to appear.
Making chocolates is surprisingly easy – you make the filling (ganache) of your choice and spread it evenly in a pan to set overnight, then cut it into little bite-sized pieces. Then temper the chocolate, dip your pieces in, let them set up, and voila! Chocolates!
I chose a variety of flavors that intrigued me: earl grey infusion (not shown), vanilla and chocolate, jasmine tea infusion, and burnt caramel. The burnt caramel was probably my favorite: the ganache was particularly smooth and creamy, with smoky undertones of caramel. Dark, not too sweet, and quite addictive.
I still have quite a lot of the Callebaut in my kitchen, so perhaps I’ll try some of the other flavors in the future. After I make sure that all the traces from the last time have been cleaned off. I try to be clean, but when it comes to chocolate, the saying is true: it gets everywhere.