Showing posts with label gifts. Show all posts
Showing posts with label gifts. Show all posts

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Homemade Dark Chocolates


VALENTINES equals CHOCOLATES !

HOMEMADE CHOCOLATES equal 

I LOVE YOU !

treat your loved ones to something HOMEMADE from the heart.
chocolate CAN be a healthy indulgence.
BUT...you absolutely must
MOVE OVER TO THE DARK SIDE ! 
i am not a nutritionist, nor do i carry any reputable knowledge in the field, but I DO LOVE CHOCOLATE !  and...of course, i'm stretching it a bit to say chocolate is healthy, but it does carry a "SUPER-FOOD" status. there really are health benefits from the cacao nibs and the bitter seeds from which chocolate is made. 

DO YOU NEED A FEW REASONS TO GIFT DARK CHOCOLATE ?!
lowers blood pressure, lowers cholesterol, lowers heart risk, helps fatigue, super high in antioxidants
blah, blah and more blah...

i find it's EASIEST TO WORK WITH, and....
CHOCOLATES MAKE PEOPLE HAPPY


MAKE YOUR OWN CHOCOLATES !
buy some molds,  use some mini cupcake papers or pour it on a sheet pan and make some "bark".
NO ONE WILL TURN DOWN HOMEMADE CHOCOLATES
(Chip N' Chipotle Bar recipe found HERE)

PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE...
TEMPER YOUR CHOCOLATE!
you want your chocolates to be nice and shiny?  go buy some molds like the ones shown... do you want it to hold up and not melt in hand?...be pretty for gift giving?  TEMPERING IS A MUST.  it is NOT hard to do.  i use the microwave method explained HERE.


here are a few flavors i have made...
always starting with 1 lb. GOOD "coverture"dark chocolate
UPDATE...shhhh...i did an experiment with Ghirardelli 60% bittersweet chocolate chips in a bag.  it works and the flavor is great.  some, MOST, chips won't work because they have stabilizers for baking.

DARK CHOCOLATE with South African flavors....
1 lb dark chocolate...TEMPERED
2/3 cup roasted salted peanuts
1/3 cup crystallised ginger, diced
1/4 tsp powdered ginger, 1/4 tsp cayenne
So African pepper blend from Trader Joe's
sea salt and more fresh pepper blend to finish

CUMIN CHIPOTLE COFFEE TOFFEE DARK CHOCOLATE BARS
(i used Cacao Barry Mexique 66% for this one)
1/2 cup toffee chips
1/4 cup crushed crushed coffee beans
1/8 cup cocoa nibs
1/2 tsp cinnamon, 1/2 tsp chipotle powder, 1/4 tsp chili powder blend, 1/2 tsp cumin...sprinkle with black salt.

TOASTED COCONUT CURRY GINGER DARK CHOCOLATE
1/2 cup unsweetened toasted coconut
1/3 cup crystallised ginger pieces
1/2 tsp Madras curry, 1/4 tsp cayenne, lime zest, dollop of vanilla bean paste.  finish with sprinkle of sea salt and a little coconut strands.

ROSEMARY BLACK PEPPER and POTATO STICKS
(i forgot to write this recipe down...my bad)
but i always use fresh rosemary that is dried in the toaster oven.  store bought just isn't as flavorful.  i also used crushed potato sticks that come in a can from Mother's Market and fresh ground pepper with sea salt finish.

when your chocolate is tempered at 90 F degrees, add your ingredients.  i like to keep my glass bowl inside another bowl with a towel inside to cradle and keep everything warm.  have a small hairdryer handy in case you need a blast of warm air to keep your chocolate at or around 90 F degrees.  pour or spoon your chocolate into molds of choice.  try to work fairly quick or you will lose you temper...in more ways than one. 
give the molds or tray a few knocks on the counter to release any bubbles and settle the chocolate.  sprinkle with salt, pepper, your extra what-evers.  set in the fridge for about 15-30 minutes and remove from fridge.  let them come to room temp before packaging for gifts.

THIS IS A MESSY JOB for 1st timers, BUT WELL WORTH THE GRATITUDE YOU WILL RECEIVE FROM YOUR INTENDED LOVED ONE.


Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Pink Peppercorn Potato Chip Bar with Sea salt and Toffee bits


SPICY PINK PEPPERCORNS...
SALTY CRISP POTATO CHIPS
and SWEET CRUNCHY TOFFEE BITS

this is one of my favorite bars and i forgot to publish the post.  i've made so many bars in the last few months i can't remember them all.  i will post about the flavors in a few days...BUT... this post explains the way i temper chocolate.  it's quite easy once you get the hang of it.  it's possible to go from "plain disc-to-flavor bar" in about an hour.
i am not a chocolate expert, i have a regular kitchen like anybody else, no fancy equipment just a few molds and i use the simple microwave method.


TEMPER YOUR CHOCOLATE !!!!
i prefer the microwave method as seen here from Alton Brown.
BUT i have an adapted method without cocoa butter as noted below...
BIG NOTE... microwaves may vary.  you do not want this to happen too quickly.  you might lower the times by 5 seconds or need to power down your microwave a bit..... the point is small intervals of heat and stirring well in between to reach 115 degrees.  this will make for a good temper.

put approx. 3/4 of chopped chocolate in a glass bowl, set the remainder aside.  NOTE...i use a little less than 1/4 of the chocolate amount i am going to temper.
heat chocolate in glass bowl for 30 seconds...stir
heat again for 30 seconds...stir
heat for 15 seconds...stir
heat again for 15 seconds...stir
do this until 100 degrees
check temperature.  if it is 100 degrees stir and heat for 8-10 second intervals until it reaches 115 degrees for dark chocolate.  i only use dark chocolate.  the temperature is different for lighter chocolates.

at 115 degrees add the remainder of the chopped chocolate that you set aside...stir well to incorporate.
let it rest for a moment and stir again.  keep "gently" stirring until it reaches 90 degrees.  use a spatula to incorporate the sides so the whole bowl will be consistent.  it might take longer than you think, but do not rush this step.

90 degrees is the perfect temp to work with.

NOTE ABOUT TEMPERED CHOCOLATE USE......
(not really for this mix and pour recipe, but might be helpful if you are dipping or need it to stay tempered.

to help keep it at 90 degrees....keep your digital thermometer handy.  place the chocolate bowl inside a larger bowl with a kitchen towel inside.  this will keep it cozy and warm.  always remember to stir and keep the whole bowl/batch consistently 90 degrees.  ALSO... have a hair dryer handy.  if it starts to cool... blow a little hot air over the surface and stir at the same time.  not too much, just enough to keep it at 90 degrees.  ONE MORE....i have seen that you can also use a heating pad under the bowl, SET ON LOW.  i tried this once and it didn't seem to work.  maybe i own the wrong heating pad.  the element was not warming the bowl.


DARK CHOCOLATE
PINK PEPPERCORN  POTATO CHIP BAR with  SEA SALT and TOFFEE BITS

2 bars, 9.8oz. each, of Valrhona dark chocolate...chopped very well
1 cup Kettle One Salt and Pepper Krinkle Potato chips, crushed
1/2 cup toffee chips
3/4 tsp fresh ground pink peppercorns
flaked sea salt and fresh pepper for finish


NOTE...before you begin, cover your work surface.  chocolate can be a messy job.
once your chocolate is tempered, add in your ingredients.  add potato chips last so the salt doesn't mix in too much.  stir to incorporate.  pour into molds of choice.  work fairly quick or your chocolate temp will lower.  keep a hair dryer handy to give it a blast of hot air if necessary.  stir while using hot air.
NOTE...if you do not have molds, make "bark" OR use mini muffin cups, set them on a small tray or cookie sheet, spoon in chocolate.

tap and jiggle molds gently on the counter to level and get any bubbles out.  sprinkle with sea salt and red pepper flakes to finish.  put in fridge until set, about 15-30 minutes.  remove from fridge and let come to room temp before packaging.
if your chocolate has been tempered correctly it should stay nice and "snappy", not melt to the touch and package well for gifts or hidden chocolate stash.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

My first chocolate bar...Chip n' Chipotle Dark Chocolate



rich dark chocolate
crunchy tortilla chips
spicy chili blends
with pure cocoa nibs
and robust espresso beans


A CHOCOLATE LOVER'S 
bite size MEXICAN FIESTA


to make the beautiful bars, you'll need some molds.
i found mine at SURFAS.  they are also available here from Amazon.

you will also need to
TEMPER YOUR CHOCOLATE.
the idea of tempering should not scare you away.  it's very necessary for a good crisp giftable chocolate bar.
the microwave method is very easy and will change your chocolate making life to a new level.



CHIP N' CHIPOTLE DARK CHOCOLATE BAR

1lb. dark chocolate.  i use "coverture" 61% Guittard discs
1/2 cup, plus a little more, crispy, salted yellow corn tortilla chips
3/4 tsp chili powder.  the kind you add to chili.  i get the medium chili blend, salt free from "Savory Spice Shop".
1/4 tsp chipotle powder
3/4 tsp cinnamon
have some fresh ground black pepper ready to add if you want...i did add a little
20-25 whole roasted coffee beans, crushed into small pieces.  i used French Roast Pete's
(test them at time of purchase to see if you can easily break it with your fingers.)
1/8 cup cocoa nibs...for extra dark chocolate crunch
for looks...dried red chili, cut into small pieces.  i used chili arbol, as shown.


first...
MISE EN PLACE
crush tortilla chips.  i used a plastic baggie and a rolling pin.  pour this into a mesh sieve (NOT the fine mesh) over the sink and tap to get out the very small "sandy" pieces.  this will give more crunch, less sandy texture.
crush the coffee beans.
chop died chili
measure out your goodies and have them ready.
always have extra on hand for final taste test.  you might want more something...

next...
TEMPER YOUR CHOCOLATE!
this is very important...and NOT difficult.
it is a must for a good snappy, shiny chocolate finish and will make room temp stable chocolates.
i use the microwave method explained HERE that i have adapted from Alton Brown's microwave method see HERE.
IN A NUT SHELL... you will slowly melt the chocolate, bring it up to 115 degrees (for dark) and slowly lower the temp to 90 degrees before using...but please click on link for instructions.
once your chocolate is at 90 degrees (for dark chocolate) start to add all ingredients.  stir to incorporate, but no need to "over-stir".  do a taste test...add more what ever you see necessary.
pour into molds and sprinkle with a little flaked sea salt, pepper flakes, ground pepper?  remember this will be the bottom of the bar.
let sit to set OR i put them in the fridge until the bar has separated from the mold completely.
NOTE...to get a really "shiny" bar.  let it set completely and release from the mold.  the first time i was anxious and removed it too soon.  the bar in these photos is not as shiny as the next batch.  you can tell by gently lifting up the mold and looking at the bottom.  you will see if it has totally released from the mold.

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