For us, chocolates are a must for Valentine's Day. You can of course have other kind of sweets (you have to have sweets for Valentine's Day!), such as Jelly Belly jelly beans or Haagen-Dazs ice-cream (You can find my posts about them through the purple links, and see how I presented them for Valentine's Day), but for us, there has to be some sort of gourmet chocolates around. You can buy them of course, or take on the challenge and impress the other party by making your own.
The last time I made moulded chocolates (thin and crisp chocolate shells filled with silky smooth filling) was back in 2011 when I just started this blog. It was all the rave back then in Hong Kong, so I picked it up in the UK and followed suit. But it wasn't one of the easiest chocolate you'll make at home as it's quite hard to work with a small amount of chocolate. So I haven't made any until now.
Last year I've learned that you can get the perfectly melted (what we call tempered) chocolate without using a thermometer, and that has saved me a lot of time and pain! As long as I have the ganache (the filling) ready, all I had to do is to get the chocolate shell right. And I did! So I wanted to share with you how to make your own moulded chocolate without too much pain.
Do note that it really isn't the easiest chocolate to make at home, especially with a small batch of chocolate to work with. But if you get it right, it will certainly impress the receiver! For something easier, I'll be (if it goes according to plan) making chocolate truffles today, and will post it up as soon as I can.
What you'll need:
200g Dark chocolate, evenly chopped into pieces (cubes are fine) plus extra (finer chopped)
(there will be left overs, and the extras might not be needed)
If you have a sweet filling, then the darker the chocolate the better. I used 70% Valrhona chocolate here, but you can use Green & Black or other good quality chocolate as well. A good quality chocolate will make chocolate making a lot easier as they melt evenly faster, and the texture will be velvety smooth.
Chocolate Mould of your choice
There are a lot of choices out there, and you can even use ice cub trays for this. Silicone type makes it much easier to pop the chocolates out, although I prefer the traditional mould, which in my opinion are much easier to handle.
200g Ganache/ Filling
(there will be left overs)
I used Salted Caramel Filling (Recipe at the end of this post), but you can use a simple chocolate ganache as well.
A tray larger than the chocolate mould, lined with greaseproof paper
A sharp knife
To melt the chocolate and make the top chocolate shell:
- Place chocolate into a microwavable bowl, and microwave it for 15 seconds. Check the chocolate, stir it a bit, then microwave it for another 15 seconds.
- Soon you should see the chocolate starting to melt. Stir gently, then start microwaving it for 10 seconds each time.
- Stop microwaving the chocolate as soon as you see that the melted chocolate will continue melting the rest of the chocolate lumps. If you aren't sure, just stir the chocolate (gently) for longer. If it no longer melts the chocolate but there are still quite a bit of chocolate chunks left, give it another 3 to 5 seconds in the microwave.
- Once all chocolate is melted, the chocolate consistency should be smooth and shiny, slightly thick and definitely not runny. If it's too runny, add a tablespoon of finely chopped chocolates (if you have) into the bowl and stir to melt. Add more if needed, but a tablespoon at a time. This process is called seeding, where we use extra chocolates to cool down the melted chocolate to the correct temperature and consistency.
- Quickly pour the chocolate into each compartment in the chocolate mould. Pour a good amount in each but make sure that you have enough to cover all the chocolate compartments.
- Quickly scrape the chocolate off the edge of the bowl to stop it from dripping, put down the bowl and quickly roll the chocolate mould around so that each compartment gets an even coating. As soon that's done, turn it upside down on top of the lined tray and let the excess chocolate drip off the chocolate mould.
Note: This step needs to be done quickly because the chocolate cools down rapidly, especially on a cold day like now.
Note: Make sure you remove the chocolate from the knife and spatula as well, and pour everything back into the microwavable bowl.
- Cover the chocolate mould with clingfilm and put it in the fridge to set.
- Cover the microwavable bowl with cling film and leave it aside for later use, making sure to keep it away from any water source.
Filling in the shells:
- Make sure your ganache consistency is pipable but not too runny (see below).
- Remove the chocolate mould from the fridge, then fill the chocolate shells with your chosen ganache to about 2/3 full or slightly less. Don't be tempted to over fill as the shell will crack when the filling dissolves inside it.
- Cover it up again and refrigerate to set.
Closing the moulded chocolates:
- Repeat the melting chocolate steps from above
- Pour the chocolate all over the chocolate mould until each chocolate is covered. Quickly set the bowl down, then use a large sharp knife or a long spatula to gently scrape excess chocolate off the mould and onto the lined tray, while keeping the base of the chocolates flat.
Note: Again you need to be quick with this, and be careful not to ruin the base of the chocolates like I did
- Use the sharp knife to scrape off any excess chocolates again over the lined tray, keeping each chocolate clean of excess. Do be careful when you scrape over the base as it might cause the chocolates to crack (the ganache will be melting at this point and trying to burst through the shell)
- Cover again and refrigerate. It is recommended to refrigerate them for about 25 minutes from this point. You'll know when they are ready when you turn the mould upside down on a table (keep it low, and ideally on top of a clean towel to soften the fall of the chocolates), the chocolates will release themselves when they are set. There might be some that clings onto the mould though, just knock the mould onto the table to remove them.
Note: Be careful not to accidentally knock the mould onto the fallen chocolate, like I did, as it can scar the chocolate shell, or even break it.
A well tempered chocolate (what we have been doing when melting it to the right consistency) will keep well in an air tight container or when wrapped tightly in foil.
|Some are marked by knocking the mould on them by accident. Otherwise they should all look smooth and shiny|
|Dusted half with edible glitter, but they don't look as good as I have hoped!|
|Very thin shell that breaks with a crispy snap|
|They look beautiful in the box, don't you think?|
You can understand why people prefer making solid chocolates or chocolate truffles, where you roll the filling into a ball shape and dip them straight into the coating (cocoa powder or melted chocolate). But again, these artisan chocolates are very impressive if you get it right.
Salted Caramel Ganache:
I got this recipe from a Hong Kong food blogger/ cake shop owner Vanlily Chan, who shared it on her blog in Chinese. The recipe originally came from an Internationally known Japanese chocolatier Koji Tsuchiya, but I haven't found an English version of it yet. So I'll translate the recipe in English here.
Unlike other Salted Caramel ganache, this one has an extra few steps, but the result is absolutely worth it. I'd recommend making a bigger batch and freeze what you don't need for next time use.
The recipe require 25g Hazelnut Paste. If you don't have this (It's definitely not Nutella), you can easily make your own with the following ingredients:
30g Blanched Hazelnuts, lightly roasted
- Blend the hazelnut paste until it becomes crumbly and started to stick together. Start adding 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil and blend. Add a tablespoon of vegetable oil at a time until you get the paste consistency (slightly droopy)
Salted Caramel Chocolate Hazelnut Ganache:
20g Glucose (in a small deep pot)
125g Single Cream (in another small deep pot)
1g Sea Salt
20g Milk Chocolate, chopped into pieces
35g Unsalted Butter, brought to room temperature
25g Hazelnut Paste
- Melt the glucose
- Add 1/3 sugar into the melted glucose. As soon as it turns slightly brown, add another 1/3. Brown it again then add the last 1/3 of sugar
- At the same time while adding sugar into the glucose, warm the cream until it steams but before it starts to bubble
- Carefully pour 1/2 of the cream into the caramelised sugar. Be really careful as the mixture is really hot and it will bubble like magma. Once the steam has come down, pour another half of the cream into the pot, wait again, then pour the rest of the cream into the pot. Do be quick before the caramel burns
- Remove the pot from fire and mix in the sea salt. Cool the salted caramel to 50C
- Add the milk chocolate and mix well. Cool the mixture to 35C
- Finally mix in the unsalted butter and hazelnut paste
To make a simpler Salted Caramel Ganache, simply omit the hazelnut paste and chocolate.
To make the ganache pipable, simply pour the mixture into a piping bag that still has a sealed tip, tie the end and put it in the fridge until it has hardened. Rest it in room temperature until it's soft enough to pipe.
Note: The ganache will continue to melt until it turns liquid again. You can put it back in the fridge to set it
Do let me know if you decided to give this a go, I would love to see your chocolates too!