Tuesday, 21 February 2012

Hot Chocolate Sticks (and How to Temper Chocolate)

Hot chocolate stick, chocolate, marshmallow
One of the things I made for Abby's birthday party bag is a hot chocolate stick. They normally cost around £2.00 for each stick. Why pay that when you can make your own for under 10p each?


Hot chocolate stick, chocolate, favour
For little children, you don't really need to use high quality chocolate. These were made with Morrisons value range Milk Chocolate, which cost 30p per 100g bar. 3 bars make approx 21 chocolates. I wouldn't say that the chocolate taste as nice as the branded ones, but when melted in a warm cup of milk, it tasted just as good as any other hot chocolate. Besides, kids are normally less fussy. I checked the ingredients and they are just that, chocolate. No palm oil and such that you'd find in fake ones.

On a side note as I found this really funny. I went to Morrisons to grab these chocolates. They were so cheap I was standing there thinking of how many I needed. I was holding 9 chocolate bars at the end, and this guy, he was so 'fascinated' by the sight of it, circled around the isle and came back to see how many I ended up buying.


Hot chocolate stick, chocolate, marshmallow
Although cheap, after some chocolate tempering, they'll still look as shiny as the good quality ones!

Note: Even for good quality chocolate, if you want it hard and shiny, you must temper it, or it will be dull looking and melt very easily. Each chocolate has different tempering temperature:

Dark Chocolate: Cool to 27-28 C (Step 5); Working Temperature is 31-32 C (Step 6)
Milk Chocolate: Cool to 27-28 C ; Working Temperature is 20 C
White Chocolate: Cool to 27 C; Working Temperature is 28 C


(Make approx. 21 chocolates)

Ingredients:

300g Milk Chocolate, finely chopped
Mini Marshmallows
Lollisticks

Chocolate (or Jam) thermometer
Chocolate or ice cube mould

Method:

1. Melt 2/3 of the chopped chocolate in a big bowl (if possible, bigger than the chocolate mould you will use later) over a simmering water bath on low fire, until 80% of the chocolate has melted. Be very careful not to let the steam or any water get into the chocolate. They are unusable once they get wet.

2. Remove the bowl and place it on top of a tea towel, to prevent it from moving around. Slowly and gently (to prevent air bubbles), stir the chocolate until it's completely melted.

3. Add a tablespoon of the reserved chopped chocolate. Again stir gently and slowly until they've completely melted. This step is called Seeding.

4. Keep repeating step 3 until the chocolate has stopped dissolving, or you have used up all the chopped chocolate. (Ideally you don't)

5. Leave the bowl of chocolate in room temperature, and place a thermometer inside the chocolate. Drop the temperature of the chocolate to between 27-28 C. This takes approx. 15 -20 minutes, depending on how warm your room is.

6. Place the bowl of chocolate over the hot water bath again and raise the temperature to EXACTLY 30 C (workable temperature). If it goes above, repeat step 5.

7. If you have done everything right, you should now have tempered milk chocolate to use. To test, simply dip a clean knife into the chocolate and leave it aside to set. Tempered chocolate should look clean without streaks, and sets really quickly.

8. Use a big spoon, or a ladle, scoop the chocolate mixture and pour it straight into the chocolate mould, over the chocolate bowl. Make sure that each mould is filled without air bubbles stuck inside. If there are air bubbles, try to remove them with something like a cocktail stick as quickly as possible, before the chocolate sets.


Hot chocolate stick, chocolate, chocolate tempering
9. Use a chef's knife and carefully point it in a 45 degrees angle to the mould, and scrape off the excess chocolate from the mould. You are aiming to clean up the mould so that only the holes are filled with chocolate.

10. Leave to set until the top has hardened.


Hot chocolate stick, chocolate, marshmallow
11. Now, gently stick a lollistick in the middle of each chocolate, and gently but firmly press marshmallows around the stick.

12. Use cling film to gently wrap the whole thing up and leave in the fridge for over an hour (I finished making these in the evening, and left them in the fridge until before I was heading to bed).

13. Remove from the fridge and bring them back to room temperature. If the chocolates are done, they should remove easily from your mould. The worst ones require a slightly firmer nudge. So gently wriggle the lollistick and see if it will come out. If it doesn't, try the other ones. If they won't come out, leave it in room temperature for longer before you try again.


To serve:

1. Warm a small cup of milk (if you use only 1 lollistick. For bigger mug, you need 2-3 sticks) until it's hot enough to melt the chocolate but cool enough for a child to drink.

2. Let the child stir the stick in the milk and watch it dissolve, while the marshmallows floats. Enjoy and have fun!