Hand Made Chocolates: How to Make the Ideal Gift
Why Would You Make Instead of Bake?
A few months ago we moved to a new home in New Hampshire. Our neighbours have been delightful, friendly and very helpful. A couple of days before Christmas one popped round with a card and a tin, which turned out to be full of delicious, home baked cookies. On Christmas Eve, another neighbour did the same. This time the lemon slices were truly out of this world!
There was only one problem. As the recipient of these, I felt I had to give something back, and not just because it was polite - I really appreciated the gesture. It doesn't sound like much of a problem except for couple of things; I am really terrible at baking AND my kitchen is in the process of being remodeled. All I have to cook with is a microwave, a single induction ring and a sandwich toaster.
This shouldn't be a problem. I have other talents. I can arrange flowers. I make my own Christmas cards, but all of my tools and materials are still packed in boxes in my basement. I thought about buying flowers, or even a plant, but it didn't seem right. My neighbours had spent time and effort making me a gift. I felt I should do the same.
This hub is about the solution I came up with. A simple, but effective recipe for hand made chocolates that even my cynical son can't get enough of. They're easy to make, even with no equipment, and it's really difficult to mess them up. If you want to branch out, you can easily add other toppings or fillings to get a lot of variety. How is it done? Here's the basic recipe.
- 2 Chocolate Bars, 3.5 oz, best quality. I use Green and Blacks.
- 7 oz Heavy Cream
- Heaped Tablespoon Greek Yogurt, or Greek Yogurt with Honey
- 2 0z Unsalted Butter
- Break the chocolate into small peices. I always use dark chocolate because that's what I like best, but my children, for example, like white chocolate and this recipe works just as well if you use two bars of good quality white chocolate, milk chocolate or one bar of milk with one bar of plain. European chocolates are not as sweet as American, giving a more sophisticated flavor.
- The best thing about this recipe is that you don't need to melt the chocolate, that's where chocolate recipes usually get messy, or at worst, go horribly wrong. In this case, just add the chocolate to a food processor and ground until it's really fine, like sugar. If you don't have a food processor, then use a grater, but work quickly as the chocolate will melt in your hands.
- Heat the cream and butter in a saucepan and bring them just up to simmering point but no more. If you want to add alcohol to your chocolates, add it to the cream and butter mixture. Brandy and Rum both taste good, but you can also add more flavorful liqueurs, like cherry brandy, benedictine, Baileys etc for even more variety. You'll want about 3 tablespoons for a reasonable depth of flavor.
- Now add the warm cream mixture to your shredded chocolate. If you can, pour it into the food processor while it's running. If not, be sure to mix it thoroughly. Once the chocolate comes into contact with the warm liquid it will melt.
- Once the mixture has blended, add the yogurt, or yogurt with honey and blend it all together. Don't worry if everything seems runny, that's normal at this point.
- Cover the mixture and put it in the refrigerator for several hours. I promise it will thicken! If possible, leave it for 24 hours.
- When the mixture has thickened, you have options. To keep things simple separate your paper cases, then take a heaped teaspoon of chocolate mixture, roll it briefly in your hands and then in a saucer of good quality coco powder, then return it to the refrigerator.
- Version B: roll the chocolates in chopped nuts.
- Version C. Pierce a chocolate with a cocktail stick or skewer, then swirl in melted chocolate.
- Version D: Mix chopped ginger into the chocolate mixture. This is especially good with plain chocolate, and is my personal favorite, but not everyone enjoys the strong flavor of ginger, so it may not be ideal when you are making this as a gift.
Try to find something pretty to wrap your chocolates in. A tin is really useful, or this year we had some pretty chinese takeout style containers to fill. Add a pretty bow and your ready to go, your gift will taste good and have that 'hand made' look which shows that you took the time to make something delicious to share with your friends.
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