Monday, February 22, 2016

Chocolate Notes:Artisan CaCao

 Today was more than interesting. I hope your day was fulfilling... For today's Chocolate Monday I want to share my taste testing experience and experiments, with the cacao and artisan chocolates.

First off, I'm not affiliated with Jacques Torres, Ghirardelli or Rawclates. I just wanted to try other specialty chocolates. I see expensive chocolate candy on the market and often wonder about the taste.  So far Jaques Torres is tops...and it's what I'm reaching for actually in creating my own chocolate delights.

a Valentine to remember!

I personally don't like assorted chocolates, but his Chocolate changed my mind. It's hard to measure up to when every single piece of chocolate was delicious. Y'all know how it is with a box of chocolates?? Hit and miss, not with these. I was so happy to receive such a treat from my daughter. Then about a month ago I found his shop in an area that I travel now and then. Guess who's going to tip over there on Freedom Friday??

Chocolate doesn't go bad, but this chocolate was weird and it's
wasn't because of the percentage either! The cranberries were
dryer than dried cranberries are supposed to be...I wasn't
happy with this one at all, so I didn't use it in anything.

This is how the chocolate looked from
Rawclates, and it really didn't taste
better than it looks...bitter and the fruit
Was....advanced dry! I was more than
A little disappointed!

Totally different story with Ghirardelli Cacao...smooth and easy to
work with not to mention the flavor! xoxo This is the chocolate we used on these pretzels

for the workshop samples...I mixed in dried cherries and
sunflowers, then drizzled royal icing...don't ask why.  
Chocolate brittle Mmm.( bark is thicker)
This made for a lighter snack, while I'm
out and about.


These are my  little addtions!

Every time I think I'm going to make chocolate bark...I end up making something else. This chocolate bark recipe is so good...when I share this with friends, I never bring any home again . Gone in a matter of min. So you've been warned, it's very delicious! Martha Stewart always says, that you really have to use the best you can afford. Good quality Chocolate is the secret to setting your treats apart from what's offered to everyone else pallet(did I ever mention that cacao from different regions offer different flavor in the chocolate)...but skill in how you pull all those special elements together. So on a budget, how do you make the difference between the shakers and the bakers? ...I mix the good chocolate with the regular chocolate. Since good always dominates!

 Jacques Torres dominates the candy and chocolate world in my book. Then he married a Chocolatier, Hasty. Talk about Double Chocolate Pleasures. Below is a recipe for Chocolate Bark i found in Food and wine magazine by Jacques. It's easy to make but has such a decadent taste due to the combination of fruit and nuts...which makes chocolate sing  to my taste buds.

 You can literally do any combination Fruit, nuts other seeds, you want with this recipe. I love chocolate covered peanuts and cherries. I usually go for the seeds I've grown up with all my life...Sunflowers, peanuts, walnuts, pecans and cashews, not to leave out other seeds like pignoli or pine nuts. I then combine those with dried cherries, crazins or apricots...I think pineapple or candied fruit would be a nice combo with the cashew... Three items are best to add to the chocolate. I wouldn't want to overwhelm the balance of Chocolate, fruit and nuts... but please yourself.

Chocolate Bark~

1 lb. dark chocolate(60 to 70 percent cacao)
1 1/4 c. roasted whole almonds
3/4 c. salted roasted pumpkin seeds
and sunflower seeds
1. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. If you are using really thick chocolate, Using a sharp knife, finely chop the chocolate. Gently over simmering water, heat the chopped chocolate, stirring occasionally, until it is about two thirds melted; do not let the bowl touch the water. Remove the bowl from the saucepan and stir the chocolate until it is completely melted and the temperature registers 90° on a candy thermometer. If the chocolate has not melted completely and is still too cool, set it over the saucepan for 1-2 min. longer, stirring constantly; do not overheat.
2.Stir the almonds, seeds and cherries, into the chocolate and spread onto the prepared baking sheet in a 1/2 in. thick layer. making sure the nuts and seeds are completely covered in chocolate. Refrigerate the bark for about 10 min., until hardened. Invert the bark on to a work surface. Remove the parchment paper. Break into 25 pieces  and store or serve.

Make Ahead-The broken bark can be stored in an airtight bag or container at cool room temperature for up to 10 days. If it last that long;)

More experimenting to come :D

Monday, February 8, 2016

The Workshop Update: Respect For All Week...

It was a Stormy and Blustery Morning! Visibility was not good and the sheets of spiky flakes hitting our faces failed to dash our hopes for a wonderful day. It is was a wonderful day after all...The link and Recipes for the Pretzel Candy are here.
After the mini blizzard!...Quite a cold winter day but it was warm at the
Respect For All Workshop!

We had a good discussion. About how we miss our Grandma's because the good grandma didn't curse or belittle you...She'd just pull you along side of her and tell you don't do this or that...tell you how much she loved you. Hug or kiss sweet is the love of the true Grandma persona. She'd make sure you had what you need before you even asked. Respecting you as the individual that you are. I wanted to give the very best to my grandmother's always. Out of respect toward her.
That led us to talk more about being a good neighbor. I want to say...when you are caught off guard by a neighbor and don't know what to say. In most cases...It's always good to just say thank you and walk away. A soft answer always turns wrath away. You know, speak softly....! I've experienced meddlesome people, but on average most people really do mean well. The intention really isn't to do harm. If more people would have this perspective we truly would all be good neighbors. I realize it's a different time but good manners is always good to practice.

A few of the other offerings The pretzels went
fast...before I took some pictures. The Display

has gum paste hearts and baby's breath.
The cake is covered in Ganache  with a chocolateModeling clay flower like the cup cakes below.

The parents and visitor made these look so cute and yummy
But you can see how simple these are to make.
Pick your cake and frosting, buy a tip(we used the french tip) at a baking supply and
You are off to a little bit a special. It just makes everyone smile
This is the same cake recipe and frosting picture above in the Workshop, only I used a spatula and a bouncy
Motion Don't you think they look scrumptious?
When the cake is good on it's own
I like to leave some without frosting...
Although the recipe isn't chocolate it lends very well to chocolate with or without the streusel filling...

Sock it to Me Cake...Mama Neely's Recipe.
Always keep something of your Heritage even when things don't work out like you'd like. Everyone comes from somewhere.

A basic yellow cake. I like the way it looked in the Neely's Cookbook. Read this recipe all the way through then proceed.

Streusel filling-
2 Tbsp. Brown sugar
2 tsp. Ground cinnamon
1 c. coarsely chopped pecans


2 1/4 c. Cake flour
1 1/2 c. sugar
1 Tbsp. Baking powder
1 tsp. salt
1/2 c. vegetable oil
1 c. milk
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 tsp. fresh lemon juice
2 large eggs unbeaten

1/4 c. Confectioners' sugar
2 Tbsp. Milk
2 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice

Preheat oven to 350F
Coat  a 9x13 in. Baking pan with non stick spray. To make the streusel filling, combine the brown sugar, cinnamon and pecans in a small bowl and set aside.
To make the  cake, sift the cake flour, sugar, baking powder and salt together in a mixing bowl of an electric mixer. Add the oil, 3/4 c. of milk, vanilla, and lemon juice and using a paddle attachment, (start slow) beat for 2 min. at high speed.
Add the remaining 1/4c. milk and eggs and beat 2 more min...Pour 2/3 of the batter into a prepped pan. Sprinkle the strudel evenly over the batter, then spoon the remaining batter evenly over the filling. Bake for 28-33 min. Or until a toothpick comes out clean. The cake will bounce back when lightly touched with a finger. Allow the cake to cool for 25 min. in the pan. run a knife around the edges. Invert onto a serving plate for complete cooling.  
To make the glaze, whisk together the confectioners'

sugar, milk and lemon juice in a small bowl until smooth. Drizzle the glaze over cooled cake.

Monday, February 1, 2016

Chocolate Monday Notes:Modeling Chocolate Recipe/Methods 1-2-3

Hello I'm very excited for February, which is a sign of a huge shift for me.
Today I'm going to share how I make modeling chocolate.  Where I found the Recipes, I use to Make Modeling Chocolate.
I've told you how much I love this medium for creating flowers, covering cakes and other decorations! It's very easy to make your own and it taste really good. I discovered that to help cover some cakes or make toppers/figurines, it's good to mix the clay with fondant or gum paste. I haven't tried it yet but tylose powder can be added for a more stable clay.
Clean Hands ;)
A medium to large bowl (microwave safe if your're using the microwave)
A microwave and food safe container
Large Spoons and Spatuala
Wax or parchment paper
Plastic baggies or container for storage

Top; ready to use modeling chocolate
Below; buttercups, roses from molds and a cut out
purple heart

You Tube
Vlogger Dawn Meehan- Chocolate Modeling Clay Recipe

12 oz. Chocolate Melts
1/3 c. Clear corn Starch

  • Melt the Chocolate in the microwave( at 50%) or double boiler...leaving quite a bit of the chocolate melts in shape, to stir in. meaning don't stir or melt all the chocolate in the microwave or the double boiler.
  •  Next use a food grade color if you like to color the chocolate or you can buy the colors you want and skip this step.
  • Finally pour in the corn syrup into the center of the chocolate. Stir in the corn syrup it will quickly change to clay. Once it's combined place on a piece of parchment or wax paper. Leave it there for an hour. Knead it and and let it set for a hour/over night before using and working it into your creations.

Cake Style Modeling Chocolate Recipe and Method...Vanessa makes this a little differently, I believe mainly because it's a larger amount of clay. She also talks about how to mix different types of chocolates like Ghirardelli or Lindt chocolate with melts to get a more flexible chocolate clay to cover cakes or other crafted cake decorations! I have watched that video umteen times and I just recalled that fact this last time collecting it here for you and me on Chocolate Monday! Her husband Jon give a excellent tutorial on how to cover sculpted cakes on you tube as well.

The Recipe
Around 2 1/2 lb Chocolate Melts or a mix of Real Chocolate
1 c. of Clear Cornstarch

  • Melt the Chocolate in the microwave( at 50%) or double boiler...leaving quite a bit of the chocolate melts in shape, to stir in. Meaning don't stir or melt all the chocolate in the microwave or the double boiler. You want to temper the chocolate, controlling the heat by not letting the microwave do all the work. We think when the heat goes off the food stops cooking ...not the case especially when it comes to sugar and chocolate.
  • Heat the corn syrup as well at 20 second increments ... you just want the chocolate and the syrup to be around the same temperature(body temp.) so they will combine more easily. So just touch them and feel if they are around the same temperature.
  • Also at this point she adds coloring to the syrup...that's if you know you have a project that's using all one color. Pour the colored syrup in a steady stream into the middle of the chocolate. Then stir to combine most of the color.
  • Let it sit on the parchment for an hour. Knead the clay to completely combine the color and place it in a baggie for another hour before you use it. If you are in a hurry set it in the fridge for 20 min., not more because it won't be as pliable or save you time in creating your work of art!

Jessica Harris Cake Design  I mentioned Jessica before in another post last yr. Wonderful work on her blog. This particular post of interest is about how to work around the clay when it turns out...wonky:0
What you don't want!..water droplets somehow got into the bowl
I really don't know how maybe my hands, in the bowl, either way water
is the enemy of chocolate melting. Meticulous eyes that's what you need.
So this is useful for snacking or decorative crumb around a cake, so do
not throw it out!

Several things I liked about Jessica and her post she's very thorough in covering every angle of decorating cakes with modeling chocolate  Sharing how to mix the different ratio's for the corn syrup to melts and how to mix Modeling chocolate with other mediums like gum keep the gum paste keeps it from getting porcelain like. To get the modeling chocolate thinner for draping Jessica told me to mix 50/50.
Which is another great thing about her blog and the other vloggers I've featured in this post is they are very interactive and helpful.

Craftsy I love Crafsy...They have a wonderful selection of classes I can use, free tutorial and classes. Their isn't one thing I don't like about gotta give them a try. This link leads to the articles to storing and coloring as well as the above recipes techniques and tips on making modeling chocolate.

From the left colored gum paste and colored modeling chocolate
chocolate ready to become petals

Try to make the modeling Chocolate on your own or with your child, like Dawn did, so cute and fun.