It is that time of year again where we venture into the world of making chocolates for family and friends. This year was quite an explosive adventure that raised the bar for my knowledge and techniques. A life saver was finally having a melter that could make larger tempered chocolate and maintain the temperature. A couple of new molds showed up among other items to dress everything up a bit more with flavors, techniques and appearances. I am looking forward to making more early this year until I run out of product. For those lucky enough to sample some, here is a rundown on some of the chocolates.
Neapolitan Ice Cream Chocolate
This came as an inspiration once I realized I had some strawberry inspiration chocolate from Valrhona. This strawberry-infused chocolate is amazing in itself so I decided to go ahead and create a version of that ice cream novelty many know and love but some just want one flavor. Well the combination was a hit and you don't get to pick your flavor. Created with the Valrhona strawberry, Callebaut white chocolate, and Callebaut dark chocolate. This will be a repeat if I have the strawberry chocolate around in future years.
Irish Cream Dulce Chocolates
These were a layered chocolate praline within a dark chocolate shell. The shell mold looked like a present and needed a bit of a thicker shell due to the details. The recipe was a straight layer of previously made Dulce de Leche and an Irish cream flavored ganache. The Irish cream filling was made with milk chocolate, cream, glucose and of course some Irish cream liquor. The combination of flavors worked very well and was another hit in this year's lineup of chocolate praline recipes.
Yuzu Coconut Chocolate
Yuzu is a unique citrus flavor that until this year was unknown to me. A cherished fruit that grows in a unique climate in Asia. It has distinctive flavors of grapefruit with mandarin orange mixed in for a very unexpected burst of citrus in the mouth. The recipe for these was as follows: dark chocolate molded shell, Yuzu inspiration chocolate, toasted coconut, and white chocolate ganache filling. It took some testing to get the right balance here as the Yuzu has a very strong flavor that can overpower everything. The chocolate shell provides an early taste in the mouth followed by the amazing Yuzu citrus with the end of your palate resting with toasted coconut. I really enjoyed this chocolate and the time creating it.
Ruby Reese Crunch Chocolate
Another first this year was exploring the newest chocolate to enter the world of chocolates: Ruby. A red chocolate that is naturally occurring, it has brought a unique flavor and color to those creating with chocolates. So we can now officially say that there are four chocolate types, but white can still be debated as a true chocolate. Our base ruby couverture chocolate is Callebaut Ruby R1. This chocolate was called Ruby Reese Crunch for our new granddaughter this year, Reese Gamble. An almond sesame praline was created with a mixture of a homemade sesame almond praline with white chocolate and formed into a formflex mold. These were then enrobed in the Ruby chocolate. The ruby chocolate provides a fruit flavor with a touch of sour that complements the the nutty white chocolate center.
Just Bisc Off
This praline is a dark chocolate shell painted in white cocoa butter. It is filled with a new flavor for this year that some may recognize from their days flying around the globe. The recipe includes the Biscoff cookie flavor often served with your drinks on a plane. In this case it is a mixture of Biscoff butter with milk chocolate for a tasty chocolate center with some cookie spice. The flavor is just there to allow your taste buds to find it.
A dark chocolate molded chocolate colored with a hot pink cocoa butter that bursts with a strawberry filling inside. The filling is a strawberry ganache created with cream, glucose, strawberry chocolate, butter and vanilla bean. Happy overall with the flavor and presentation of this one but I might make some tweaks to the filling next year.
Coffee Almond 70 Crunch
This was one of the only pralines prepared this year using my steel frames and are then cut. The first base layer was an almond sesame paste blended with white chocolate. Once crystallized the next layer was added. This was a coffee-infused milk chocolate ganache. After cooling, the slab was inverted and pre-coated with tempered milk chocolate. The squares were then cut and ready for hand dipping in tempered milk chocolate. Once dipped, a cocoa butter transfer was placed on top of each. Overall this was a good combination of flavors.
Fruit and Nut
Simple dark chocolate molded shells topped with a snowflake transfer sheet with an almond cranberry chocolate filling inside. This is a big crunch piece with classic fruit and nut flavors.
Dark chocolate molded pieces with bright colored striped tops has a simple but elegant Dulce de Leche filling.
Milk chocolate with coconut butter and mint extract, these will melt in your hands and once in your mouth. A powdered sugar coating for a finish.
Normally I do not make a lot of chocolate molds with milk chocolate but this year I mixed it up, in part due to the milk chocolate being amazing. This is a molded milk chocolate bonbon painted with yellow cocoa butter for decoration. The filling is a pure milk chocolate ganache with notes of vanilla.
Citrus Blossom Chocolate
These milk chocolate molded bonbons were painted lightly with an orange cocoa butter to give away the centers. (Note if you had the early version it might have not had the orange coloring) The center is a classic soft creamy white center with a citrus blossom center.
A classic dark chocolate mint that is a super palate cleanser. Molded in dark chocolate the center is a creamy white mint that compliments the chocolate beautifully. Compared to previous years these have a softer interior due to my adding invertase to these centers including the citrus blossom above. Note some versions may have had a different shape with green dots on top.
Salty Isak Caramels
The classic salted chocolate caramels. It is always amusing to me that these are one of my more simple chocolates to create, less all the hand dipping, but most popular among family and friends. Nothing new here except I added more salt and included the name Isak for our grandson because he seems a bit salty with his personality at times but bounds with happiness and free-will always.
Simply milk chocolate, pure and simple, molded as a solid for a pure milk chocolate experience.
PBJs (Peanut Butter and Jelly Chocolates)
This is a dark chocolate molded praline with white cocoa butter decorations. The inside starts with a dollop of grape jelly. A layer of peanut butter infused milk chocolate ganache is next and capped by more tempered dark chocolate. Some good bonbon crack with this one, the jelly is very subtle to the palate before the peanut butter follow. Next year I am going to go with some type of jam layer as the jelly was not adding quite the flavor I was looking for. Still great but a work in progress.
This bonbon is an almond praline mixed with white chocolate and coarse almond, molded and set. They were then enrobed with white chocolate and decorated with edible gold flakes. A very smooth nut crunch here where the white chocolate carries the flavors on the palate.
Milk Chocolate Crunch
The same as the white crunch above but dipped in milk chocolate and decorated with gold flakes.
The Sesame Rowan is named after our other grandson. This was the first chocolate I made this year and he is the first grandchild. I took this recipe from the Guittard website known as Sesame Almond BonBons that led to further creations this year. Molded in a few different shapes this is milk chocolate filled with a milk chocolate ganache to about 2/3 volume. The next layer is the sesame almond praline filling which is a blend of a sesame almond praline paste with milk chocolate and cocoa butter. This was the first time making a praline paste. Not terribly hard to make that part of the ingredient but it takes some steps and time to process it all. This actually lead to my wanting to make more milk chocolate varieties this year.
This is a dark chocolate bar filled with a caramel crunch filling. Was a favorite of mine and cast in a beautiful mold by Luis Amado and are very high quality. I love the curve in this bar and the detail in the top that could be interesting to decorate if I had the time. The first step in making this bar was to make Feuilletine which is a sweet crunch crepe commonly used in pastry creations. Not overly hard to make, these stay crunchy even when they were introduced to chocolate. The inside is a caramel chocolate made by Callebaut known as Gold. They describe it as follows: "this caramel chocolate has rich notes of toffee, butter, cream and an exciting dash of salt." This chocolate is amazing on its own but we loved the crunch from the Feuilletine that brought its own characteristic flavor along. This was an outstanding bar in appearance and flavor. The dark chocolate mold was a Callebaut couverture that is balanced in chocolate flavor.
Couverture Chocolates Purchased this Year
This year I went a little crazy wanting to explore a number of different avenues of chocolates that would inspire a journey of flavors. It worked except for my pocket book, but Valentine's Day is right around the corner, so more to come. This year I chose to use the following chocolates as my creations. Some were in 5kg blocks and others were as bags of callets in various sizes.
Callebaut W2 28% White Chocolate Block
- it has a delightful taste with pronounced milky, creamy, caramelly and vanilla notes that are in perfect balance
Callebaut 823 33.6% Milk Couverture Chocolate Block
Callebaut Recipe N 811 with 54.5% - full-bodied taste, solid cocoa body and fine, fruity notes. 5kg BLOCK
Guittard Madagascar 64% Dark Couverture Chocolate Wafers - 1 Pound Bag - I wanted to compare this to Valrhona below.
Valrhona Manjari Madagascar 64% Dark Couverture Chocolate Feves - A favorite from previous years but I look forward to creating some bars with this
Specialty Chocolate Varieties
Valrhona Strawberry Inspiration Couverture Feves - 2 Pound - "The Strawberry Inspiration fruit couverture is a subtle blend of cocoa butter, sugar and strawberry. Strawberry Inspiration adds a new dimension to fruit-flavored recipes."
Valrhona Yuzu Inspiration Couverture Feves - 1 Pound - "The Yuzu Inspiration fruit couverture is a subtle blend of cocoa butter, sugar and yuzu. A fine treasure in the great citrus family, yuzu is one of Asian gastronomy’s classic ingredients."
Callebaut Gold 30.4% Caramel Couverture Callets:
Callebaut RB1 33% Ruby Couverture Chocolate Callets:
Weight - 5.5 Pound "The first ruby chocolate for artisans and chefs with an intense fruitiness and fresh sour notes
Cacao Barry 100% Pure Cocoa Butter Discs - 2 Pound - for fluidity etc.