Monday, November 28, 2011

An orange by any other name...

When I woke up this morning, I did not think to myself: You know, IBB, you really ought to make some chocolate.

When I woke up, I instead thought "Why, phone, are you ringing at eight AM on my day off?" But what're you gonna do. Anyway! Thanks to a nice scheduling mishap, I have the day off, and it's one of those days. You know the ones. The ones that just beg you to get your booty into the kitchen and whip something up. But what to whip?

Cookies? Been there.

Cupcakes? Done that.

Cake bites? Well... Not yet.

My eyes, instead, befell on a half-open bag of chocolate waiting to be melted into deliciousness. And I do have those new shiny molds. And I did promise you all pictures next time I did it...

Right. So let's make some chocolate.

Unless you're making dark or white chocolate, always start with milk. There are many nifty flavors you can play with, we'll be using orange and peanut butter today, but start with the basic milk chocolate. You can usually find this in a grocery store in the baking section or, if your store has one, in the "bulk chocolate" section.

We're using a double boiler to make the chocolate. There's nothing wrong with using a microwave, though! But since my mother requested I make the whole half bag, and that's quite a bit of chocolate, I went with the double boiler. When you use a double boiler, there are two things to be absolutely sure of: Do NOT boil the water! You want it at a simmer.

And do not let the water touch the bottom of the top pot. You want the chocolate to be melted by the steam, not the water.

While we're on the subject of water? Don't let water get into the chocolate. Just don't do it! It'll seize, and you'll have a useless lump of mud. Be extremely careful not to get water in your chocolate.

Now! Get the water simmering, and dump in some chocolate. You might want to do it in batches. I certainly do. Try not to make more chocolate than you can handle at once. You want the chocolate to be liquid so you can put it into molds, so you need to work quickly. Which is why smaller batches is easier.

Now, once your chocolate melts, if you're using flavoring like we are, add it here. Do NOT go overboard! Really! The flavoring oils (hint hint, do not use extract! It must be flavoring oil for chocolate) are very, very strong, so only a few drops will add a big punch to the chocolate. You can always add more if you need it, but you can't take it out.

Be sure to stir it up, and then bring it over to the table with the molds.

I always use molds. It's easy, it's effective, and it's cheap. While your chocolate is still hot, spoon (or drizzle, or use a bottle, or whatever you feel comfortable with!) the chocolate into the molds. Fill them up, then you're going to want to tap them. No, not with your hand. Lift the mold up and drop it LIGHTLY! onto the table. This helps to get the air bubbles out of the chocolate. Once you do that, pop them in the fridge.

... Well, sure, you can let it harden on the table. But putting it in the fridge is infinitely faster, and will yield a better product. Just put it in the fridge. And while you're in there, throw out the week-old raviolis. Really.

Now, you need to be patient. Let the chocolate sit for about fifteen minutes, then check it. If it's completely solid, take it out and drop the molds on the tables, again, lightly, to get the chocolate out. Put them in a bowl and put them back in the fridge so they can chill some more.

Lather, rinse, repeat.

Now. There is nothing, nothing, better, than taking a bite of a piece (or twelve) of chocolate you've made yourself. I hope that whatever silly fear you have regarding chocolate has been kicked right in the tookus, because really, melting chocolate is as easy as 1-2-3. And the results are gone in about 3 seconds, too.

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