Candies (Daring Baker Challenge August 2011)

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!

I have to admit that I was a bit put off by the pages & pages of the recipe, but when it came down to making these individually they were pretty fast to make and easy to adapt.
Fair Trade Cocoa
August saw the start of my potential future career in food retail. I’ve started a temporary position as assistant manager in a Fair Trade @ St Michael’s in Oxford. I was really excited when I found out that I would be taking care of the food department. I’ve had so much fun looking after an amazing array of Fair Trade teas, coffees & chocolates. We stock award winning olive oil from Palestine, coffee grown by women on the top of mountains in Uganda, and best of all, baked beans from Mongolia! There are 5 different brands of cocoa from different parts of the world, and every flavour of Divine chocolate under the sun! I am currently working my way through testing all of these, I think it will take me a long time…I’ve always been aware of Fair Trade but since starting at this shop I’ve become a fanatical supporter. The products feel more loved, there are always personal stories. The chocolate I used for this challenge didn’t come from my shop but from Sainsbury’s, I wanted a neutral base to add different flavours. I used single estate chocolate – dark from Santa Domingo and milk from Ghana.

Tempering Chocolate
“Tempering is a method of heating and cooling chocolate in order to use it for coating or dipping.
Proper tempering gives chocolate a smooth and glossy finish. Tempered chocolate will have a crisp snap and won’t melt on your fingers as easily as improperly tempered chocolate.
Properly tempered chocolate is also great for molding candies because the candies will release out of the molds more easily and still retain a glossy finish.” – Ghirardelli

I used the ‘seeding’ version of tempered chocolate.

Tempering Ranges:

Celsius
Dark: 45°C-50°C > 27°C > 32°C
Milk: 45°C > 27°C > 30°C
White: 45°C > 27°C > 29°C

Fahrenheit
Dark: 113°F-122°F > 80.6°F > 89.6°F
Milk: 113°F > 80.6°F > 86°F
White: 113°F > 80.6°F > 84.2°F

Chocolate is melted and heated until it reaches 45°C / 113°F. Tempered un-melted chocolate is then stirred and melted in until it brings the temperature down to 27°C/80.6°F. It is then put back over heat and brought up to its working temperature of 32°C/30°C/29°C /// 89.6°F/86°F/84.2°F depending on the chocolate you’re using. It is now ready for using in molds, dipping and coating.

Tempering using the seeding method with couverture callets

• Finely chop chocolate if in bar/slab form (about the size of almonds).
• Place about ⅔ of the chocolate in a heatproof bowl
• Set aside ⅓ of the chocolate pieces
• Place bowl over a saucepan of simmering water (make sure the bowl does not touch the water)
Tip: Make sure that your bowl fits snuggly into the saucepan so that there’s no chance of steam forming droplets that may fall into your chocolate. If water gets into your chocolate it will seize!
• Using a rubber spatula, gently stir the chocolate so that it melts evenly
• Once it’s melted, keep an eye on the thermometer, as soon as it reaches 45°C / 113°F remove from heat (between 45°C-50°C / 113°F-122°F for dark chocolate)
• Add small amounts of the remaining ⅓ un-melted chocolate (seeds) and stir in to melt
• Continue to add small additions of chocolate until you’ve brought the chocolate down to 27°C/80.6°F (You can bring the dark chocolate down to between 80°F and 82°F)
• Put it back on the double boiler and bring the temperature back up until it reaches its working temperature of the chocolate (milk, dark or white) as seen in the above chart. (32°C/89.6°F for dark, 30°C/86°F for milk and 29°C/84.2°F for white)
• If you still have a few un-melted bits of chocolate, put the bowl back over the simmering water, stirring gently and watching the thermometer constantly.

I don’t own a digital thermometer so I made a guestimate of the temperature drop, and wasn’t surprised when my chocolate came out dull & matt instead of glossy & shiny.
Truffle making
I opted for the easiest recipe –all I needed was cream & chocolate. I make lapsang souchong infused truffles, and coconut chili truffles. I didn’t like the chew that the desiccated chocolate gave but the smokiness of the lapsang worked well with the silky smooth truffle.

Truffles

Servings: Makes +- 30 truffles, recipe easily doubled or halved
For the best tasting truffles, a high quality chocolate is ideal, especially one that is 62% cacao or higher

Ingredients
1 ¾ cup (9 oz/250 gm) Dark/Bittersweet Chocolate, finely chopped
2/3 cup (5 oz / 160 ml) Double/Heavy Cream (36% – 48% butterfat)
OR
1 ¾ cup (9 oz/250 gm) Milk Chocolate, finely chopped
1/2 cup (4 oz / 120 ml) Double/Heavy Cream (36% – 48% butterfat)
OR
1 ¾ cup (9 oz/250 gm) White Chocolate, finely chopped
¼ cup (2 oz / 60 ml) Double/Heavy Cream (36% – 48% butterfat)

Flavor Ideas:

Add to taste (Approximately 1 teaspoon – 3 Tablespoons)
The amount of flavorings are dependent on either the recipe you use, the amount of chocolate and cream, and frankly, your own taste. Start by adding a teaspoon, try it, then add more to taste, up to as much as 3 tablespoons.

Various Spices (Chili Powder, Cardamom, Wasabi Paste or Powder, Ginger, Cinnamon etc.)
Instant Coffee Granules or Espresso
Matcha, Chai and Various Teas
Liqueurs (Amaretto, Chambord, Kahlua, Frangelico, Rum, Brandy, Vodka etc.)
Zests (Orange, Lemon, Lime etc.)
Herbs (Basil, Thyme, Mint, etc.)
Malted Milk Powders
Nut Pastes or Butters

Other Tips

• If you are using fresh or whole/solid flavorings such as fresh herbs, cardamom pods, cinnamon sticks, vanilla pods etc… simmer it in the cream then remove from heat and let steep for an hour. After steeping, strain away solids, return the cream to a simmer, and proceed with recipe.
• When using liqueurs or alcohol to flavor, don’t add more than 3Tbsp for the given quantities in the recipe given. Too much alcohol can inhibit the ganache from setting properly.

Making ganache with milk chocolate and cream

Ganache can either be used to make rolled truffles or cut into squares and then dipped in chocolate, which is called a bonbon.

Making the ganache

1. Finely chop or grate the chocolate
2. Place in a heatproof bowl
3. In a saucepan, heat cream until just about to boil (it will start bubbling around the edges of the pot)
4. Pour the cream over the chocolate
5. Gently stir the mixture until all the chocolate has melted and it is smooth
Tip: If you end up with pieces of chocolate that won’t melt, put the bowl over simmering water (but not touching the water) and stir gently until it’s all melted
Tip: Be careful if you do need to heat it over simmering water, if the mixture gets too hot it will split and you’ll end up with gooey chocolate swimming in oil, so don’t overheat the ganache, steam from a gentle simmer is all you need.
6. Stir in your desired flavorings

For rolled truffles

Allow the ganache to firm up in a container of choice, preferably deep rather than shallow
2. Using a teaspoon or melon baller, scoop up room temperature ganache
3. With gloved hands, roll the balls between your palms to round them off
4. Dip in tempered chocolate or roll in various ingredients like cocoa or chopped nuts as desired
Tip: If dipping in chocolate, it’s best to refrigerate the ganache balls before dipping so that they’re firm and don’t melt from the warm chocolate
Tip: For a thicker chocolate shell, dip once in tempered chocolate and allow to set. Then do a second dipping or smear a small amount of chocolate over the truffle and roll in desired ingredients
5. Place on parchment paper until set


Sponge Candy (also called Honeycomb or Sea Foam candy)

For my non-chocolate candy, I made Sponge Candy which is called Cinder Toffee in the UK.  These are like Cadbury’s crunchie bars, very easy and fun to make! However, I think I over boiled my syrup so it turned out a bit too hard. Luckily no teeth were broken!

Adapted from Christine Cushing’s Sponge Toffee Recipe

Ingredients
2½ cups (20oz/560gm) Granulated White Sugar
2/3 cup (160 ml) Light corn syrup
6 tablespoons (90 ml) Water
1 tablespoon (0.5 oz/ 15g) Baking Soda
2 teaspoons (10 ml) Vanilla extract
Vegetable oil for greasing pan

Directions:

1. Liberally grease a 10-inch round spring form cake pan with vegetable oil. Trace the bottom of the pan on a piece of parchment paper. Line the bottom of the pan with the parchment paper circle. Line the sides of the pan with a parchment paper so that the parchment paper creates a collar that sits 1 to 2-inches above the pan. Liberally grease the parchment paper.
2. In a deep medium saucepan add sugar, corn syrup, water, and vanilla. Over medium-high heat bring the mixture to a boil (without stirring) and cook until hard crack stage, i.e. until temperature reads 285°F / 140°C on a candy thermometer (if using light corn syrup, it will be light amber, if using dark corn syrup it will be the color of maple syrup). This should take about 10 minutes. If sugar crystals form on the sides of the pan during the cooking process, brush the sides of the pan with a clean pastry brush dipped in water.
3. Remove from heat. Working quickly, add the baking soda and quickly blend to incorporate the soda into the sugar mixture, about 5 seconds. The mixture will bubble up when you add the baking soda. Be very careful not to touch the hot mixture.
4. Immediately pour the hot toffee into the prepared pan. Let set completely before touching. Cut into pieces. It makes a huge mess. But the messy little crumbs can be saved to top ice cream. Leave candy as is and enjoy, or dip pieces in tempered chocolate and let set.


Pralines

I made pecan nut pralines which were delicious! I made a doule layer of white chocolate with ginger and milk chocolate praline. They were on the soft side so were difficult to coat in their crisp, dark chocolate shell.

Milk Chocolate & Hazelnut Praline Truffles

Servings: Makes +- 30 truffles, recipe easily doubled or halved
Adapted from the Cook’s Academy Curriculum, Dublin
Active Time: 1 – 2hrs
Ganache Setting Time: 2 – 4hrs or Overnight

Praline Ingredients:
½ cup (2 oz/60 gm) hazelnuts, shelled & skinned
½ cup (4 oz/115 gm) granulated white sugar
2 tablespoons (30 ml) water
Making the praline and ganache. Once set, making balls of the set ganache then rolling in crushed hazelnuts

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to moderate 180°C / 160°C Fan Assisted (convection oven); 350°F / 320°F convection / Gas Mark 4
2. Place whole hazelnut on a non-stick baking tray and dry roast for 10mins
3. Allow to cool
4. Place hazelnuts in a clean dry kitchen towel and rub to remove the skins
5. Line a baking tray with parchment paper or a silicon mat
6. Place the skinned hazelnuts onto the prepared tray
7. Combine the sugar and water in a saucepan over medium low heat, stirring until the sugar is dissolved
8. Turn the heat up and bring to the boil (do not stir), brushing down the sides of the pot with a pastry brush dipped in water to remove any sugar crystals
9. Boil until the mixture turns amber (160°C – 170°C / 320°F- 340°F on a candy thermometer)
10. Remove from heat immediately and pour the syrup over the hazelnuts
11. Allow to cool completely
12. Break into small pieces
13. Transfer pieces to a food processor and process until desired texture, either fine or rough
14. Set aside

Ganache Ingredients
1¾ cup (9 oz. / 255 g) Milk chocolate, finely chopped
½ cup (4 oz. / 125 ml) Double/Heavy Cream (36% – 46% butterfat content)
2-3 Tablespoons (1-1 ½ oz. / 30ml – 45 ml) Frangelico Liqueur, optional

½ – 1 cup Crushed or Ground Roasted Hazelnuts for coating

Directions:
1. Finely chop the milk chocolate
2. Place into a heatproof medium sized bowl
3. Heat cream in a saucepan until just about to boil
4. Pour the cream over the chocolate and stir gently until smooth and melted
5. Allow to cool slightly, about 10 minutes
6. Stir in the praline and (optional) liqueur
7. Leave to cool and set overnight or for a few hours in the fridge
8. Bring to room temperature to use

Forming the truffles:
1. Using teaspoons or a melon baller, scoop round balls of ganache
2. Roll them between the palms of your hands to round them off
Tip: Handle them as little as possible to avoid melting
Tip: I suggest wearing food safe latex gloves, less messy and slightly less heat from your hands
3. Finish off by rolling the truffle in the crushed roasted hazelnuts
Tip: You can also roll them in hazelnut praline
4. Place on parchment paper and leave to set

My chocolates aren’t the standard of artisan chocolatiers of Belgian, Switzerland or France, but I had fun making and eating these!

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4 responses to “Candies (Daring Baker Challenge August 2011)

  1. Squeaky Mouse the chocaltier. I really loved these titillating truffles. You produced a great range of flavours and the honeycomb, which as you say was a bit on the hard side, was still really delicious. The praline was definitely the best of the lot. Hotel Chocolat would to well to hire you to produce their next box. I hope you do well in your new job in Fair Trade – having access to all that great chocolate and tea is just the thing for you!

  2. The flavor combinations in those chocolates sound just delightful. I also love how you were able to use the challenge to bring a little awareness to fair trade chocolates! Fantastic idea!

  3. My favourite Divine chocolate is the coffee one. They used to stock them in one of the stores here in Ireland, but I haven’t been able to find them since last year! Very sad about that, they’re so good.
    I’m also finding that there are so many different names for honeycomb, as I’m going through the DB challenges I’m learning new names for it, and Cinder Toffee is another new one for me.
    You made a great selection of treats! Thank you for taking part in the challenge 🙂

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