Homemade Chocolates

imageI am very much an amateur as far as chocolate making is concerned. After attending a class at Cocoa Black in Peebles, I was determined to have a go at making my own version at home. First I knew I had to try tempering the chocolate. As I had only ever seen this demonstrated I knew it would be very much trial and error to begin with.

Let me tell you, I am usually quite a tidy clean cook…but chocolate making tested me in this department. The chocolate was everywhere. I felt like I needed two pair of hands. I found it very difficult at first to hold the thermometer, stir in the additional chocolate, keep the ban marie at the correct temperature and work quickly to fill the moulds, all at the same time. Obviously the more I practiced, the less I felt I had to rush.
The first batch of chocolate shells was a complete disaster ( I was too slow filling the moulds) as the chocolate was setting before I had a chance to turn the mould and empty out the excess chocolate.

Once I felt I had sort of mastered the moulding of the shells, I thought before I go any further I will make the fillings for the shells. I decided on two flavours
Real Ale Truffle ( Taken from a recipe by Paul A. Young. How to make Chocolates purchased from Lakeland) my second filling I decided to make a Strawberry Marshmallow Fondant.  (Hopefully this would be OK as it is quite a soft mixture)

imageReal Ale Truffle
Makes about 40 chocolates
( I only made half this mixture for my trial run. The left over truffle I used to fill the Courgette and Chocolate cake…. See Bakes on my Blog )
125mls Real Ale, beer or stout
100g muscovado sugar
250g 70% or above dark chocolate

Method
imagePut beer and sugar into a saucepan. Warm until the sugar is completely dissolved. Do not allow the mix to simmer or boil
Pour the beer into a blender add the chocolate and blitz until smooth. ( I actually put it in a bowl and used a whisk to mix until smooth )

 

imagePour into a food container and then refrigerate for four hours

To fill shells warm gently and pour into empty shells. OR do as I did and roll into small balls and sit in the shells being careful not to fill above the top of the shell.

This truffle mix can also be rolled into balls and coated with chocolate. I did half filled shells and half coated truffles, which I then decorated with white chocolate ( see picture)

Strawberry Fondant
4 large marshmallows
75g icing sugar
1tsp water
Strawberry chocolate flavouring ( I sourced mine from Lakeland)

Put marshmallows and water in a microwaveable bowl. Put in microwave on full power for 30 seconds until marshmallow has melted
imageStir to check there are no lumps then add 50g of the icing sugar and mix to form a soft pliable dough. (You may need to add a bit more icing sugar if the paste is sticky)
Tip out onto work surface and add about 5 drops of the flavouring use the remaining icing sugar to to prevent the paste becoming sticky as you knead the flavouring into the paste.
Wrap in cling film until you are ready to fill the chocolate shells
To fill the shells tear off small bits of the paste roll into small ball and place in shell being careful not to overfill otherwise the filling will seep out of the bottom of the chocolate when you add the base.

To make the Chocolate Shells
(I made 22 chocolates from this but I still had some left over once the shells had been completed. This can be used again if stored correctly)

300g dark chocolate (I used Callebaut nibs)
Thermometer
Ban Marie
Sheet of grease proof paper

Method
Put 200g chocolate into ban Marie and melt to 45 degrees
Take off the heat and add the remainder nibs a few at a time, stir. Continue tondo this until you bring the temperature down to 30 degrees.

Pour the chocolate into the moulds to fill each shell
Tip mould upside down onto grease proof paper, allow the chocolate to drain out onto the paper
Scrape the excess chocolate from the top of the mould using a spatula then put in fridge to set for about 30 minutes.

Once set, fill the shells with the truffle or fondant

Tip the chocolate from the grease proof paper ( it will have set but will release easily from the paper) into the ban marie and follow the tempering instructions again.

imageOnce tempered cover each shell to above the rim with chocolate
Skim excess chocolate using a spatula until it is level with the top,of the mould

image

Put in fridge to set at least 30 minutes
Once set the chocolates should release from mould when up turned onto a clean surface.

image

Courgette,Chocolate Cake with homemade chocolates and chocolate transfer design

imageWell..I don’t know what made me start this marathon chocolate bake. It began with my new chocolate moulds and transfer sheets arriving, then my baking brain went into overdrive.

I started by mixing and matching ingredients to have a go at making some flavoured chocolates. I chose two fillings, the first being a real ale truffle from Paul A. Young’s book on how to make chocolates. The second a strawberry marshmallow fondant filling using a strawberry flavouring from Lakeland.
Forgetting I had only ever watched someone demonstrate how to temper chocolate I set about practicing this technique. The chocolate got everywhere,( white kitchen units turned chocolate coloured very quickly), but the smell in the kitchen was wonderful. Hubby kept popping in to ask if there was any left overs and I hadn’t got anywhere near to completing anything yet. ( Needless to say there’s never any wastage with chocolate).

Anyway once I was happy with my technique I set about creating the chocolates. Four hours later I had created a selection of 22 chocolates. Hopefully with practice I will be able to make more in a shorter time span.
Now I needed to think about a cake. Obviously it had to incorporate chocolate and…..if I put in some vegetables I could fool myself into thinking it might be healthy ha ha. I opted to use courgette. Please don’t be put off at this stage ( even if you dislike courgettes) the courgettes actually produce a lovely moist cake and you can’t see or taste them in the finished cake.

imageServes 8-10

Ingredients
350g SR Flour
375g caster sugar
50g cocoa powder
1tsp mixed spice (optional)
3 eggs
175 mls extra virgin olive oil
500mls courgette, grated ( approximately 2 medium sized courgettes)

NB. Courgettes can be very watery so I would advise after grating put the courgette into a clean tea towel and squeeze out the excess water before using in your mixture.

Filling and icing
150g butter
250g icing sugar
50g Cocoa powder

Decoration
Chocolate transfer
Chocolate

Method
image

Heat oven to 160C /Gas 4

Line a 24cm tin with grease proof paper
Put flour,cocoa powder and spice into a bowl
Put eggs,sugar, courgette and I’ll in another bowl and combine together

imageAdd courgette mixture to flour and stir to combine
Pour mixture into cake tin

Put in oven and bake for approximately 50 minutes

Cool cake

Cut cake in half and spread some of the butter icing onto one half. Cover with other half of cake.

Put cake onto plate or turn table and cover sides and top with a smooth coating of butter cream

Coat the chocolate transfer sheet with chocolate,let the chocolate partially set. Trim and apply to the sides of the cake. Put in fridge to set.

Use remainder of butter icing to decorate edge of top layer of cake and around the base.
Decorate with homemade chocolates.
THEN
Sit down admire the finished product,put your feet up and enjoy

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Yorkshire Wolds Cookery School

 

imageJust returned home after spending a day participating in a Modern British cookery class at Yorkshire Wolds Cookery School. Set in the beautiful surroundings of what is Highfield Farm near the picturesque village of Southburn, near Driffield.
The school has been operating since 2010. The school and bed and breakfast accommodation has been finished to the highest specification. The staff are extremely friendly and efficient and a pleasure to work with.
The tutor for the Modern British course was Ali Bilton, who has enjoyed an interesting and varied career within the catering industry. She is professionally trained and has spent time working in London , Spain and Hong Kong. Her teaching style is relaxed but very professional and has a great enthusiasm for her craft.
The course was a full day including lunch.

I had a very enjoyable time and would recommend this school to anyone who enjoys cooking .  Also if anyone ever fancies a night bed and breakfast in the Yorkshire Wolds,you would go a long way before you found somewhere as good as Highfield Farm.

imageOn the day we made: Chicken Liver Pate with pomegranate jelly
Pork Belly braised with spices served with Braised Lentils
Pear Almond and Chocolate tart