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Saturday, August 27, 2011

Daring Bakers' Challenge: Tempered Chocolates and Sweet Confections

This month I learned how to temper chocolate. It was part of the Daring Bakers' Challenge, an international, online group of novice bakers. You may have noticed I'd skipped a couple of months. It's allowed and though I'd planned on making each challenge I just couldn't get into June's Baklava challenge because I just don't care for Baklava. July I was really busy and was starting to feel like a deadbeat daring baker. So I was excited when August's challenge was "candylicious!"

Tempering chocolate is intimidating, messy and delicious!

The August 2011 Daring Bakers’ Challenge was hosted by Lisa of Parsley, Sage, Desserts and Line Drive and Mandy of What the Fruitcake?!. These two sugar mavens challenged us to make sinfully delicious candies! This was a special challenge for the Daring Bakers because the good folks at http://www.chocoley.com offered an amazing prize for the winner of the most creative and delicious candy!


For my first candy I made Nanaimo Truffles. I'd just recently made the classic, Canadian, no-bake cookie bars for my hubby's Birthday after finding this recipe on Allrecipes.com. When I sampled one I thought to myself because it was sooooo sweet it was more like candy. Think along the lines of a really rich fudge. It was too sweet for me.

When I read the this month's challenge I thought to myself Nanaimo truffles could be great. The whitish cream center is the sweetest part so using less would make them better. In the cookie it's an even layer over the chocolate base. By making only a small center for the truffle it would cut down on the sweetness by 2/3 or more. Dipping the truffle in bittersweet chocolate would also cut down on the sweetness of the flavor profile.


I knew what I wanted them to look like. . . And it worked! I took them to a BBQ we attended on Sunday that a lot of Canadian's attended. They were a big, nostalgic hit and even the non-Canadians loved them.

The funny thing was as I made them I thought to myself I'm never doing this again. Working with melted chocolate is so messy! After I ate one I realized I have to make them again because there is nowhere to purchase Nanaimo Truffles. LOL. They're just sweet enough with an amazing texture combination: The smoothness of the cream filling, the crunch in the chocolate base and the thin coating of tempered chocolate that snaps as you bite into it.


The Ingredients include custard and cocoa powder, graham crackers, shredded coconut, walnuts and semisweet chocolate.


The sweet cream center was made of milk, custard powder (I used Birds purchased at World Market), room temperature butter and powdered sugar.


Whipped together with an electric hand mixer. I chilled the mixture in the fridge for a few minutes to make it easier to roll.


Once chilled I rolled the small centers, placed them all on a cookie sheet then put them back in the fridge to chill more.


The chocolate base is made of crushed graham crackers, shredded coconut and chopped walnuts. I actually chopped the coconut smaller than you see here. These were the pics I took of when I made the full sized Nanaimo Bar cookies. For the truffles the bites would be smaller so I knew I'd have to chop the ingredients smaller so I minced both the coconut and walnuts.


Mix the dry ingredients together.


In a Bain Marie (double boiler) I mixed together the cocoa powder, sugar, more room temp butter an egg and vanilla.


Stir ingredients together.


Ready.


Combine with the dry ingredients.


Mix together. The mixture cooled to room temperature fairly quickly. I made small balls of the chocolate base, flattened into a pancake shape, inserted a cream center then sealed the chocolate base around it.


The finished chocolate balls looked like meatballs!


Before dipping them into the tempered chocolate I sampled one. They were good!


Tempering dark chocolate is a messy but not too difficult process. It entails heating the couvecture chocolate which is made with between 32% to 39% cocoa butter (and the total percentage of the combined cocoa butter plus cocoa solids must be at least 54%) to 113º. Cooling it to 80º then rewarming it back up to 89.6º. I heated it in a bain marie making certain not to let any water drops touch the chocolate or it will "sieze" and be ruined.


Once the chocolate is hot enough you turn it out onto a marble slab to cool down.


I used a pastry scraper to smear the chocolate back and forth. When it's cooled to the correct temperature, I had to guess based on consistency because I don't own a laser thermometer, you put it back over the double boiler and rewarm it back to between 88º and 89.6º.


When the chocolate was tempered and still liquid I dropped the truffles in one by one lifting them out with a small fork, there are special chocolate dipping forks but unfortunately I didn't own one, and placed them on a drying rack to allow the excess chocolate to drop off to the tray below.


It was important not to touch the chocolates with my fingers at this point because I wanted the surface to be pristine so I continued to use the small fork and a small spatula to lift them off the drying rack to finish cooling on a non-stick Silpat mat. Once the chocolate set I used the fork and spatula to lift them into small paper cups to keep them from sticking together.


Success!

I continued to store them in the fridge as Nanaimo Bars are always served chilled. Because I kept them covered and in the fridge they were the perfect, cool, summertime treat.

Dark Chocolate Dipped Caramel Crispys with Fleur de Sel

Because I'd transformed a classic Candian cookie into a bite sized candy I wanted to do the same for a classic American cookie. My choice was to elevate the humble Rice Krispies Treat into a true confection. I did this by mixing in caramel made from scratch into the melted marshmallows, enrobing each brick with tempered semisweet chocolate and topping each bite with flakes of sea salt. Yum.

I took them to a friend's BBQ a few nights ago and the crowd loved them. Everyone agreed they needed a fancier name than Chocolate Covered Caramel Krispy Treats so I called them "Le Krispy Treats." You know, so they sounded fancy and French. LOL. I guess I'll have to continue to work on a name.

Making the caramel, adding it to the melted marshmallows and adding the Rice Krispies

I found the Salted Caramel Rice Krispie Treats recipe over on the A Cozy Kitchen Blog and while everyone loved them, I think I'll look for an even more caramel recipe the next time I make them. Or maybe double her recipe for caramel and make less marshmallow. The salt in the recipe I couldn't taste at all but adding the flakes on top made the flavor pop!

 My friends Loretta and Maureen had made large cookie sized versions of chocolate covered Rice Krispie Treats last Christmas so that's where I got the idea to coat my tiny bites in chocolate.

I also tried to make Peanut Butter Fudge and Strawberry Pate de Fruit but they were both flops. One overcooked and the other undercooked. They tasted great but their consistencies were off so I whipped up a batch of Ben and Jerry's French Vanilla and made Peanut Butter and Jelly Ice Cream!


My thanks to Lisa and Mandy! This was a really fun challenge and I'm glad I'm back in the spirit of the group. I'm looking forward to making the Nanaimo Truffles again. They were a big success and I'm really glad I gave tempering chocolate a try!

If you want to give candy making a try CLICK HERE for the downloadable PDF (26 pages long) for this challenge

The August Daring Baker's Challenge Results!

And here are just some of the gorgeous confections my fellow bakers made! Visit their blogs to see bigger and better images and to read tips about how they made their scrumptious candies.

Row 1
Testado Provado & Aprovado - Kahlua Bon Bons
Gourmande in Osaka - Mango Jellies with Coconut
I Can Do That - Peanut Butter and Jelly Cups

Row 2
Simple Math Bakery - Peanut Butter Cups
Catalina Bakes - Chocolate Truffles
Mini Cuisine - White Chocolate Ganache Flavoured with Eau-de-fleur-d'oranger and Orange Zest

Row 3
Cookin' For My Captain - Candied Orange & Pistachio Marzipan Bonbons
Taste of Youth - White Chocolate with Rose Water and Rose Water Caramel
I Can Do That - Chocolate Covered Meringue with Salted Honey Caramel

Row 4
Inspired to Bake - Chocolate Bark
Marcellina in Cucina - Dark Chocolate Covered Honeycomb
Mary Mary Culinary - Coronation Grape Pate de Fruit

Row 5
Rachel Dana - Blueberry Caramels (no blog)
Koko Cooks - Gummy Frogs
Audax Artifex - Mixed Chocolates



If you liked this post you'll enjoy these Bakers' Challenges too:

• January 2011: Fancy Joconde Imprime Entremet
• February 2011: Panna Cotta and Florentine Cookies
• March 2011: Meringue Coffee Cakes
• April 2011: Maple Mousse in an Edible Container
• May 2011: Chocolate, Tequila and a Blow Torch!

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