Making your own chocolate candy is highly rewarding and not as difficult as you might expect. There are number of different ways to make your own chocolate treats that will impress guests and satisfy to your taste buds.
While you can make chocolate candy with little more that a saucepan or a microwave, a few tools will make the process easier for you. A good quality candy thermometer is a good investment for the candy making hobbyist, as it takes out a lot of the guesswork. A double boiler, fillings, a few whimsical candy molds, and sticks to make lollipop candies will also help.
Molded Chocolate Candies
Take semi-sweet chocolate, heavy cream, and a chocolate mold to make your own simple molded chocolate. Chop the chocolate into small pieces and set it aside. Simmer the heavy cream, then pour it over the chocolate and mix the now softened chocolate until smooth. Pour the chocolate into the molds and allow it to cool. Once fully cooled, you can remove your chocolates from the mold. You can use special flavoring, like vanilla or orange, to spice things up. Edible luster dust will give your candies an extra artistic shine.
You can make a simple lollipop chocolate using the same method to make your chocolate. Place lollipop sticks in a line on a sheet of wax paper and pour the chocolate over one end of each stick in a circular shape. Cool the candy in your refrigerator, then gently separate the chocolate from wax paper.
To make a basic truffle, allow your chocolate mixture to cool until it can be easily shaped. Roll the chocolate into small ball shapes and place them on a wax paper sheet. Melt either a dark chocolate or white chocolate in a separate bowl. Use the tines of a fork to spread thin lines of the second chocolate over your truffle and allow the whole thing to cool.
Crowd Pleasing Bark
It's easy to get creative making chocolate bark. Consider some of your favorite flavors, like peppermint and white chocolate or dark chocolate and nuts. Place a layer of wax paper along the bottom of a shallow pan or cookie sheet. Then, simply spread your bark food, like almonds or chopped candy pieces, across a shallow pan. Melt your favorite chocolate in a double boiler or microwave, being careful not to burn it. Then pour the melted chocolate over the pan. Place the bark in the fridge to cool the candy. Once it is fully cooled, break up the bark and enjoy.
While there are many excellent recipes for delicious fudge, the real key to making your chocolaty treats turn out well is when to stir. After you've heated all your ingredients to the prescribed temperature, add vanilla last and allow the mixture to cool completely before disturbing it at all. When it has fully cooled, stir the mixture vigorously, then quickly pour it into a greased pan. The mixture will solidify very quickly once you stop stirring, forming the perfect fudge.
Chocolate Covered Fruit or Pretzels
For a chocolate covered treat, simply melt some of your favorite chocolate and combine it with a fruit or salty snack that you love. Dip the fruit in the chocolate, swirling it around to ensure that it is evenly coated. Then, just leave it on some waxed paper to cool and enjoy. You can add sprinkles, candy bits, or a second coating of different chocolate to make things a little fancier. This method will produce a hard candy shell. If you like your chocolate a little softer, combine it with heavy cream first. This will make the candy shell less likely to crack and come apart when you take that first bite, but either method will look great and taste delicious.
Tips For The Best Chocolate
Chocolate can be temperamental to work with at times if you don't know the tricks. It is very easy to scald or burn chocolate when melting it. Use a double boiler, a special double pan that heats water underneath the chocolate, to warm the chocolate slowly and evenly, preventing burning. If you use the microwave to melt your chocolate, be sure to do it slowly and stir often. Using half power will also help prevent scalding.
Storing Your Chocolate
Try to store your chocolate in an airtight container to prevent it from hardening or softening unpleasantly. Try not to keep your chocolate in the fridge, as this can lead it to become brittle and pale in color.
Making Chocolate From Scratch
If you want to produce your very own homemade chocolate, the process will take lower, but the accomplishment will be that much more impressive. Start with your own cocoa beans and roast them to bring out the fullness of their flavor. Then crack the beans and separate the shell from the nut. You will have to grind the nut into an extremely fine powder. This can be accomplished by starting with a food processor and finishing up with a mortar and pestle to ensure there is no gritty feel to your chocolate. Next the resulting product must undergo a process called conching. This will remove the acidity and create a smooth, rich flavor. Finally the chocolate is tempered, a process that gives your candy a bright and exciting gloss. The process of making your own chocolate is a complicated one, but it is certain to turn heads and get attention. Not to mention taste far more rich and natural than what you can typically buy at the supermarket.
Making chocolate candies can be anything from a quick and simple treat to a complicated artisanry, depending on your level of interest and skill. Often when people discover how easy it is to get started, they find themselves learning more and more about this tastey and rewarding craft.