Wednesday, 20 November 2013

Chocolate fillings (caramel and almond butter) - work in progress

In the middle of the year, I dabbled in chocolate making.  I meant to continue and write more when I was more confident.  However the burst of enthusiasm didn't last long.  Then I found these photos while clearing up some photo files recently and decided it was worth writing about it.  Maybe I will have another burst of chocolate making and find my notes useful.  They make great gifts.

The first chocolate I tried was an almond butter filling.  I messed with the recipe and found that margarine wasn't a good addition.  The filling went a bit dry but seemed ok once I tried it in the chocolate.  I still like it in theory but would like to try it a few more times before feeling confident with it.

The second chocolate was very exciting.  I made vegan caramel.  I am very wary of any sort of caramel.  It always sound hot and scary.  And it usually involves a candy thermometer.  Despite owning one, I never like the idea of putting it into a saucepan of lethally hot liquid.  It wasn't perfect.  Perhaps due to the lack of said thermometer.  Above is the blow by blow photos of my caramel making.

You probably can't see just how jaw breakingly chewy the caramel is, even in this close up.  Sometimes the camera just can't convey texture or taste.  But it was very very firm.  I think I should have stopped cooking it a little earlier.  And that is why people use candy thermometers.  I hope I can just experiment and get a sense of when to stop.  If I ever do this again.

Candy thermometer issues aside, I was excited to make caramel that was delicious, low in sugar and did not involve cream.  The original recipe that I followed is for caramel sauce.  (I have also seen another vegan caramel chocolate filling that I would like to try.)

This other reason I didn't post about this straight away after making was that I sent this to my brother in law in Ireland (along with peppermint chocolates).  I was quite pleased with the card I made.  So here it is.  Fergal was very nice about the chocolates.  Upon looking closely at the chocolates I noticed there is a bit of bloom.  This is one of my other challenges with chocolate making.

So here is my first stab at these recipes.  Lots to work on.  With Christmas coming up, I am wondering if I am feeling brave enough to make them for gifts.  Especially in a hot Aussie summer.  Stay tuned ...  Or have a go yourself and let me know how it turns out.

Previously on Green Gourmet Giraffe:
One year ago:
The Rainbow Hotel
Two years ago: MLLA Avocado soy rotis
Three years ago: WHB Cauliflower Tart
Four years ago: Polenta Pizza People
Five years ago: Chocolate Cake, Creative Control and Climate Change
Six years ago: Whimsical nutloaf and salad

Almond butter centred chocolates
Adapted from Aida Mollencamp
makes about 1 lot of green chocolates

2 tbsp almond meal
2 tbsp icing sugar
1/4 cup almond butter
1 tsp maple syrup
few drops vanilla essence
pinch salt

Mix all ingredients except chocolate.  At this was easy to stir but after sitting a while it got a bit dry.  I tried adding some margarine to loosen it up but this was a mistake.  The filling I used before adding margarine was much nicer and worked ok in the chocolate.

Caramel filling
From She Let Them Eat Cake

1/4 cup maple syrup
1/4 cup coconut milk
2 tbsp rice malt syrup (or brown rice syrup)
1 tsp arrowroot
1 tsp water

Stir together arrowroot and water in a small bowl and set aside.  Whisk together maple syrup, coconut milk and rice malt syrup in a small saucepan.  Gently heat and then stir all ingredients for 5 minutes over medium heat.  Add arrowroot mixture and stir constantly until it thickens.  I did this for about 10 minutes and it got so thick with stringiness and air bubbles.  This made it was very chewy.  I'd like to get it a little less chewy next time.

To make filled chocolates:

Melt chocolate (in my notes I suggest about 100 - 200g dark chocolate).  I do this in a microwave.  Best to let some of the chunks melt out of the microwave at the end by stirring to avoid the chocolate getting too hot (which is part of tempering chocolate though I think more attention than this is needed).  Use spoon (or chocolate paintbrush if you own such things) to cover the insides of a chocolate mould or silicone ice block tray.

Place in the freezer to harden up (it only takes a short time - perhaps 10 to 20 minutes).  I think this is one of the other moments to watch for bloom as if any moisture gets in during this time that can also lead to bloom.

Take out of freezer and add filling.  Roll the almond filling into a small ball or pull of pieces of the slightly cooled caramel filling and roll into a ball.  Cover with chocolate.  Return to the freezer to harden.

Pop out of tray and keep in a cool dry place.  I prefer chocolate at room temperature but in hot weather I keep chocolate in the fridge, and as these are low in sugar they will not have a long shelf life.  See my experiences with the orange and sweet potato filling.

If you are doing more than one type of chocolate filling, I found it useful to put a little melted white chocolate or caramel filling in ziplock bag and cut tiny bit from corner so you can drizzle it over chocolates - a good way to identify different chocolates - and it looks pretty too if you have a steady hand.

On the stereo: 
Henry by Melody Pool (heard on the radio)

13 comments:

  1. I love your ideas! I used to make choclates as a gift for my family every Christmas. I hope I can find the time this year.

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    1. Thanks Mihl - I've only made chocolates as gifts on a few occasions but find them fun - every year sounds like you must have a bit of know how :-)

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  2. Caramel scares me too, and my own candy thermometer is quite neglected. I like the look of this vegan caramel mix though and putting it in chocolate would, of course, be perfect!

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    1. Thanks Kari - chocolate and caramel is such a great combination - was quite an achievement to make caramel though

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  3. I am coming for chocolates next time you make them! I hope you got my note about testing the caramel on my blog - it should save your batch next time :)

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    1. Thanks Maggie - will be sure to take your advice and do a bit of testing using water.

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  4. Tempering chocolate is for the patient - I am not that person. I did an incredible class at a small chocolatier in Sydney a few years back where she had a commercial fridge set to the perfect temp for chocolate. It was constantly tempering. Shame you don't have room for a whole chocolate room :P You did an amazing job though! I find that my chocolate blooms in heat extremes or cold and if I don't temper properly. It happened with my last batch of snickers :(

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    1. Thanks Cass - I have never taken a chocolate course but I like the idea of tempering fridge - when I strike it rich I will be sure to set up a chocolate room - right between my walk in freezer and pizza oven :-)

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  5. Yum! Both fillings look really good. I am going to try making chocolates for Christmas, so this is interesting reading.

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    1. Thanks Cakelaw - hope to hear about your Christmas chocolates - it makes me nervous to make them if it is too hot - though if this weather continues it will be no problem :-)

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  6. Gosh, have you cracked tempering? Those chocolates look lovely and shiny. Both your fillings sound good. I'm particularly tempted by the vegan caramel.

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  7. Wow, this is artwork! Looks like perfect gifts! :D

    At the end of my schooltime, I once attended a chocolate making workshop where we made things like that. Very laborous! Nowadays I still make chocolates for Christmas, but of the easy kind. ;)

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