VALENTINES equals CHOCOLATES !
HOMEMADE CHOCOLATES equal
I LOVE YOU !
treat your loved ones to something HOMEMADE from the heart.
chocolate CAN be a healthy indulgence.
BUT...you absolutely must
MOVE OVER TO THE DARK SIDE !
i am not a nutritionist, nor do i carry any reputable knowledge in the field, but I DO LOVE CHOCOLATE ! and...of course, i'm stretching it a bit to say chocolate is healthy, but it does carry a "SUPER-FOOD" status. there really are health benefits from the cacao nibs and the bitter seeds from which chocolate is made.
DO YOU NEED A FEW REASONS TO GIFT DARK CHOCOLATE ?!
lowers blood pressure, lowers cholesterol, lowers heart risk, helps fatigue, super high in antioxidants
blah, blah and more blah...
i find it's EASIEST TO WORK WITH, and....
CHOCOLATES MAKE PEOPLE HAPPY
MAKE YOUR OWN CHOCOLATES !
buy some molds, use some mini cupcake papers or pour it on a sheet pan and make some "bark".
NO ONE WILL TURN DOWN HOMEMADE CHOCOLATES
(Chip N' Chipotle Bar recipe found HERE)
PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE...
TEMPER YOUR CHOCOLATE!
you want your chocolates to be nice and shiny? go buy some molds like the ones shown... do you want it to hold up and not melt in hand?...be pretty for gift giving? TEMPERING IS A MUST. it is NOT hard to do. i use the microwave method explained HERE.
here are a few flavors i have made...
always starting with 1 lb. GOOD "coverture"dark chocolate
UPDATE...shhhh...i did an experiment with Ghirardelli 60% bittersweet chocolate chips in a bag. it works and the flavor is great. some, MOST, chips won't work because they have stabilizers for baking.
DARK CHOCOLATE with South African flavors....
1 lb dark chocolate...TEMPERED
2/3 cup roasted salted peanuts
1/3 cup crystallised ginger, diced
1/4 tsp powdered ginger, 1/4 tsp cayenne
So African pepper blend from Trader Joe's
sea salt and more fresh pepper blend to finish
CUMIN CHIPOTLE COFFEE TOFFEE DARK CHOCOLATE BARS
(i used Cacao Barry Mexique 66% for this one)
1/2 cup toffee chips
1/4 cup crushed crushed coffee beans
1/8 cup cocoa nibs
1/2 tsp cinnamon, 1/2 tsp chipotle powder, 1/4 tsp chili powder blend, 1/2 tsp cumin...sprinkle with black salt.
TOASTED COCONUT CURRY GINGER DARK CHOCOLATE
1/2 cup unsweetened toasted coconut
1/3 cup crystallised ginger pieces
1/2 tsp Madras curry, 1/4 tsp cayenne, lime zest, dollop of vanilla bean paste. finish with sprinkle of sea salt and a little coconut strands.
ROSEMARY BLACK PEPPER and POTATO STICKS
(i forgot to write this recipe down...my bad)
but i always use fresh rosemary that is dried in the toaster oven. store bought just isn't as flavorful. i also used crushed potato sticks that come in a can from Mother's Market and fresh ground pepper with sea salt finish.
when your chocolate is tempered at 90 F degrees, add your ingredients. i like to keep my glass bowl inside another bowl with a towel inside to cradle and keep everything warm. have a small hairdryer handy in case you need a blast of warm air to keep your chocolate at or around 90 F degrees. pour or spoon your chocolate into molds of choice. try to work fairly quick or you will lose you temper...in more ways than one.
give the molds or tray a few knocks on the counter to release any bubbles and settle the chocolate. sprinkle with salt, pepper, your extra what-evers. set in the fridge for about 15-30 minutes and remove from fridge. let them come to room temp before packaging for gifts.
THIS IS A MESSY JOB for 1st timers, BUT WELL WORTH THE GRATITUDE YOU WILL RECEIVE FROM YOUR INTENDED LOVED ONE.