Just FYI, this has absolutely nothing to do with books.:D
Okay, this entry is a little late, but super picture-laden. One of my very favorite Christmas traditions in the Pike household is making hand-dipped chocolates. I learned the basics from my fabulous mother-in-law, and I've kind of gone overboard with it over the last few years. But hey! No one has complained yet that I made too many kinds of chocolates.:) But Carrie Ryan wanted me to take pictures of the process, so if you find the following totally boring, blame her.:D
I'm going to start with my favorite, which is pinoche. (Pin-oh-chay.) (Lots of people say Pin-osh, and they are welcome to, but the recipe we finally found that we liked the best insisted that the pronunciation is pin-oh-chay, and who am I to argue with the most perfect recipe on earth?) Pinoche is a brown sugar fudge that we make really soft so I actually have to freeze it to get it out of the pan and then re-freeze it after I've cut it in order to keep it from dissolving when I dip it in chocolate. Frozen pinoche looks like this:
Then I dip it in melted chocolate and the irregular pieces look quite ugly. But they are sooooo good.
And once they are dipped and thawed, they look like this, with the soft, brown sugar/mapley centers barely hard enough to not drip out. Mmmmmmmmm.
The next easiest is truffles . . . actually, they are probably the easiest. But I like the pinoche the best, so it gets to be explained first.:D Truffles are actually super simple. I think they are best that way. The key for truffles for me, is to use European chocolate. They really melt in your mouth that way! So in my truffles, I use melted chocolate, scalded cream, and a touch of vanilla. That is it. Period.
Oh, and that bowl on top of a pan? That is me being too stubborn/cheap to buy a double boiler. Works like a charm!So I get those three ingredients mixed and I put it in the fridge until it hardens enough to scoop into balls. I have a teeny little scooper just for this purpose!
Then, like the pinoche, I have to freeze them in order to dip them without them melting to pieces in the warm dipping chocolate.:) (I'll show you a pic of them dipped in a second.)
The really tricky part of making chocolates is making my flavored creams. I make them out of fondant from scratch so there is much boiling and stretching.:D Basically I boil the snot out of a mixture of sugar, cream, sugar, Karo syrup, and sugar. Then I lay out parchment paper in 9x13 pans and pour the boiling hot liquid into them.
Usually this works like a dream. This time one of my pans cracked under the pressure.
Then I have to cool it to the perfect temperature. I can't let it get too cold or it will crack, but if I don't let it get cold enough, it won't set up. I'm finally getting a feel for it.
After it is cool, I plop it into my bosch. (You can do this by hand, but it is way, way hard.)
Then I use my dough kneading attachment and stretch the fondant for about ten minutes, at which point it changes. Seriously, check out this before and after. It always excites me!
Cool huh! Then I flavour and color it and scoop it out into perfect little sherbet looking balls!
Then freezing the centers again, so they can be soft inside the chocolate, but hard when I dip them.
And when they are done they look like this! With all kinds of interesting splatters to differentiate between the flavors!
I also dipped several kinds in white chocolate this year, but totally spaced getting pictures.
So there are my chocolates!!! Wish I could give a few to each of you, but pics will have to do.