Valentines Day is the day for love, cards, and chocolates. To help you get ready, I met with Christie Thompson, a chocolatier and good friend. Christie has been making incredible chocolates for the last 15 years and currently makes chocolates for Rebecca’s Chocolates in Salt Lake City, UT. If you have ever had Rebecca’s, you know they are some of the best around.
In the past, I had tried dipping strawberries, and making my own chocolates, but mine always began to sweat, streak, or melt and never looked very appetizing by the time I arrived at the party. Christie, graciously agreed to share her secrets, and with her help, I dipped fruits that lasted and looked beautiful for days. And I made my first truffle, which I must say was the best I have tasted. We made a large batch of chocolate fruits and truffles that were savored and raved about by friends and family.
First, you want to make sure your fruit is at room temperature (~68°). If it is chilled at all, it will sweat after dipping. Also, your fruit must be completely dry, so no washing immediately prior. Buy pre-washed or wash and let dry for at least a day before dipping.
Then melt the chocolate. This can be done in the microwave or double boiler. If melting in the microwave, heat for 3 minutes at 20-30% power, stir, and repeat until melted. If melting in a double boiler, heat on low and allow chocolate to melt for 15-20 minutes while mixing. You don’t want to get the chocolate too hot or allow steam from the bottom pot to come out and get into the chocolate. A good test to make sure your pot is not too hot is to place your hands on the side; you should be able to leave your hands on the pot without burning them.
Once your chocolate is melted, you want to let it cool to 68-72° (otherwise it will streak). There are several things you can do to ensure proper temperature:
- Use a candy thermometer to test the temperature
- Place a small dot of chocolate on wax paper and test for streaking
- Pull up a small ribbon of chocolate with a fork and allow it to drizzle back into the bowl. The drizzled bit should remain on top and not melt back in.
At this point your chocolate is ready for use.
For strawberries, hold the stem and dip the berry 3/4 into the chocolate, pull out and let drip, then place on parchment paper to cool. For the other berries, simply drizzle chocolate over the fruit in lined cupcake cups and allow to cool. You may want to open a window to make sure your kitchen in cool enough to allow the chocolate to set. Once set, enjoy!
When my friends and family ate these truffles they asked what made them so creamy and buttery. I gave them a short answer, “cream and butter.”
- 1 cup cream
- 2 Tbsp cooled butter
- 16 oz chocolate
- 1 Tbsp extract of choice (vanilla, cherry, almond, etc)
In a small pot, heat the cream on low and allow to come to a gentle boil. You don’t want to heat it too much or it will curdle, but you need to heat it enough to prevent molding. Look for a film to appear on the top and allow to simmer for 1-2 minutes. Do not stir!
Remove from heat and add the butter. Do not stir until the butter has fully melted. The butter helps gently cool the cream and thicken the mixture. Once the cream has cooled to almost room temperature, add the chocolate and mix. If you add the chocolate too early while the cream is still too warm it will become clumpy. Mix with a whisk until chocolate is fully incorporated. Then add flavoring extract.
Place a long sheet of saran wrap in a shallow casserole dish. Your sheet should be about twice as long as the dish and hang over the sides. Pour the mix into the casserole dish and wrap the remaining saran wrap over the top of the mixture. Make sure the mixture is fully contained by the saran warp. This allows you to easily remove the truffle from the dish once cooled. Cool in the the fridge at minimum 3-4 hours.
Once cooled, cut into shapes using a cookie cutter dipped in cornstarch. If the truffle is too soft to manage, roll in corn starch before dipping.
Then, using a fork (Christie uses her hands), dip the truffle into melted chocolate using the same tips as outlined above for the fruit. Then cool on parchment paper. Again, if your kitchen has warmed up, open a window or take the chocolates outside to cool.
Note: It is important to use high quality chocolate made for dipping to ensure good end results. If you are going to use a lower quality such as chocolate chips from the store, add about 1 T of coconut oil to the chocolates to help them look shiny. In high quality chocoaltes you will notice coconut oil as an ingredient where lower qualities tend to use wax.
You could make these today and they would still be perfect for your Valentine tomorrow.
Happy Valentines Day!