There's a friend I have that helps me out a whole lot, and I wanted to show my appreciation to her for everything she does. I thought to make her a really nice gift basket, and include in it a box of homemade fancy chocolates. She's a blog reader, so I really hope she doesn't read this post until after it arrives at her house, sometime later today.
I told people about making fancy chocolates, and people wanted to know how I did that.
Perfect idea for a post, right?
I'll be honest, I can't tell you exactly how much my fancy chocolates and their box cost me to make, but I do know it was much cheaper than if I'd buy a similar item from the store.
The most expensive part of the chocolate box was actually the box itself...
...Made all the more expensive by the fact that I accidentally smashed the first box I bought, and ended up needing to buy another box after...
Anyhow, I bought the box from the scratch and dent store- a set of three boxes with a magnetized cover, for $5.70, so each box for $1.90.
I could have possibly made a box out of cardboard or something else, but honestly... Pinterest wasn't giving me any good ideas- the ideas that I saw looked more tacky and not fancy. So I just went with the bought box, which can then be used as a storage container afterwards.
For the chocolates I used silicon chocolate molds that I already had in the house.
I found 60% chocolate bars on sale for 54 cents per bar, so I stocked up and used them for my chocolates. The different types of filling ideas I had were mint, caramel, jam, peanut butter, and coffee...
To make filled chocolates, what you do is you melt your chocolates in a double boiler (or a glass jar or a metal bowl containing your chocolate inside a larger pot with water) and then use a spoon to coat the bottom inside and sides of the inside with melted chocolate. You want to form a shell, and you don't want it to be too thick or too thin. Too thick and there isn't enough filling, too thin and it'll melt too quickly in your hands, and depending on the filling, may cause it to leak out. You'll have to do a little bit of experimenting, a little trial and error to figure out the perfect ratio. I had a few air bubbles left in mine- apparently if you bang the tray a few times, the air bubbles are supposed to come out. I didn't try it myself.
Once you filled the bottom and sides, cool the chocolate so it hardens- either in the fridge or freezer- and make your fillings.
To make my mint fillings, I used a little bit of mashed potatoes- yes, I said mashed potatoes- with a lot of powdered sugar, and peppermint extract to taste. Pretty much like I did for my homemade peppermint patties, only I didn't leave the filling to harden as I did with my peppermint patties.
To make a caramel type filling, I boiled down jaggery with coconut milk. It came out good, but not good enough- I still need to work on making a better dairy free caramel to use as a filling- these didn't make it into the chocolate gift box.
I had some plum jam that I had made from plums, which I then canned. Any jam would work.
I wanted to make a peanut butter filling, but I was out of peanut butter and didn't feel like running to the store to buy more, so I decided to try mixing tahini with the melted chocolate and a bit of powdered sugar to taste to make a ganache type filling (I think that's what it's called anyhow) and it came out amazing! If I had peanut butter, I'd do the same thing for a filling as well.
I tried making a coffee filling with coconut oil, chocolate chips, powdered sugar and coffee powder. Did not work. It tasted nasty and didn't dissolve. So that was a bust. I still have to figure out how to make a good filling for that.
Anyhow- another idea I have for next time I do this- make these with my chickpea based cookie dough dip as a filling...
So, we have ideas for the fillings, and we have our shells cooling in the fridge/freezer.
Well, take it out of the fridge/freezer and inspect it for holes. I find often holes appear on the side after it dries, that weren't there when I put it into the fridge. If there are any holes, "patch them" with more melted chocolate, and cool again. If no holes, proceed.
Take your filling and fill the hollow of the chocolate most of the way if using a solid filling like the ganache or peppermint filling. Leave a little space at the top so there's room for more chocolate to go on top.
If using a liquidy filling, like jam or caramel, make sure to leave a decent amount of space between the top of the filling and the top of the mold.
If using a liquidy filling, stick your tray in the freezer until the filling is hardened. The jam only took about half an hour to harden more- it doesn't need to be totally solid, just solid enough that the melted chocolate will sit on the top of it. If using a dryer filling, feel free to skip the freezer step.
Pour more melted chocolate over the whole thing, making sure to cover every last bit. The most important thing is that there is no gap between the chocolate on the side and the new layer you poured in at the top. If you do, filling will leak out of there.
Once again, cool it down to harden, then remove it all from the mold, breaking off any excess pieces.
So now back to the box.
I filled the bottom with shredded paper that we shredded in our paper shredder. You really need a lot of shredded paper since it gets packed down when you put in the chocolates.
Fill in the space with small cupcake papers, and then place your chocolates inside.
Have you ever made homemade chocolates before? What did you fill them with? Any tricks to share?