And it’s that time of year again…
You know, the time when you realise Christmas is next week and you haven’t even started your Christmas shopping?
No? That doesn’t happen to you?
You know what… I don’t believe you. So, even if you won’t admit it, I am going to share an easy way to make a whole bunch of gifts in one go.
While the process is fairly simple, I won’t pretend it is quick! Although it is certainly faster (and far more enjoyable!) than trekking it in to the shops, wading through the crowds, and trolling along with absolutely no clue what to buy… Which is the exact reason why you haven’t bought anything yet, right?
Homemade chocolates are relatively easy to make, and if you look at how much the shops are charging for handmade luxury chocolates, you would likely fall over when you realise how much they really cost to make!
As I’ve said, it was not a quick process for me, but that was mostly due to the fact that I decided to make 12 different types of chocolates and 12 different types of truffles… keep it to maybe three and you will be done with up to twelve gifts in just a few hours! I made twelve boxes of six chocolates with the below recipe, three chocolates and three truffles in each.
The ganache filled chocolate cups involve a process called tempering, which is not quite the same as simply melting chocolate. The process basically involves controlling the temperature of the chocolate, which in turn controls the crystallisation of the cocoa butter, resulting in a finished chocolate with a beautiful shine and delightful snap. Now, although tempering is an essential step in the process of making these chocolates, I don’t feel it is incredibly important that the chocolate has a perfect, glossy finish – this is simply because the tempered part of these chocolates is in the textured cases, so the shine will not be overly noticeable.
My point? You will read a lot about tempering chocolate online, about how important it is to get the temperatures right and how you must temper the chocolate perfectly or the whole thing will just be ruined.
Honestly, if you follow the process I have outlined below you will be hard pressed to end up with ruined chocolate.
Use the best chocolate you can find – and buy in bulk if you can, it’s much cheaper. The best chocolate to use is couverture chocolate, as it contains a higher percentage of cocoa butter.
The next step is to make the ganache; an incredibly simple process you will likely be repeating for all sorts of things once you have tried it. Chocolate sauce, chocolate icing, chocolate truffles… Just adjust the amount of cream to chocolate for a thicker or thinner result – more cream for chocolate sauce, less cream for truffles. The ganache recipe I have used below is ideal for truffles, which is what you will be making after you have filled the chocolate cups.
I have outlined my chocolate flavours below, but as I said, keep it simple if you don’t have much time.
Milk chocolate cup with milk chocolate, raspberry & pistachio ganache
Dark chocolate cup with white chocolate & rose ganache
White chocolate cup with white chocolate & raspberry ganache
Dark chocolate cup with dark chocolate & orange ganache, topped with caramelised almonds
White chocolate cup with milk chocolate & coconut ganache
Milk chocolate cup with dark chocolate, pistachio & Armagnac ganache
For the chocolate cups
Yield: 36 chocolate cups
100g dark chocolate
100g milk chocolate
100g white chocolate
(or use more of one and less of another – 300g of chocolate should make around 36 cases)
Note: Images below switch between milk, dark and white, but please take note that the below process is to be done separately for each type of chocolate. I will outline the tempering process once, start to finish. You should repeat this process with each type of chocolate individually.
Chop each of the three types of chocolate separately and set aside.
Start with the white chocolate.
Place a glass bowl over a pot of boiling water, making sure the bowl does not touch the water, then add two thirds of the chopped white chocolate to the bowl and turn the heat off. Leave to sit for about five minutes, then stir the chocolate with a spatula.
Touch the chocolate covered spatula to the inside of your wrist to test the temperature, if it is warmer than your skin just continue to stir until all of the chocolate has melted. If the temperature matched your own or is cooler, place the pot of water back on the heat for a further minute or so, then stir again until all of the white chocolate has melted.
Once the white chocolate has melted, add the remaining one third of chopped white chocolate and stir it through. This should reduce the temperature of the chocolate.
Continue to stir the white chocolate until it is smooth again, then touch the spatula to the inside of your wrist to test the temperature. The chocolate should feel slightly cool to the touch when it is ready to work with.
Line a cupcake tin with cupcake cases, then place a teaspoon of the melted white chocolate into one of the cupcake cases and use a brush to coat the sides of the case.
Repeat for each of the cupcake cases, then place in the fridge to set. Once set, peel off the cupcake wrappers. Store the chocolate cases in the refrigerator until you are ready to use them – they will be much easier to handle if they are cold.
If you are using the three different types of chocolate, repeat the above process with the dark chocolate, and then with the milk chocolate.
For the ganache filling
Yield: fills 36 chocolate cups, and makes around 36 truffles (depending on size)
225ml double cream
450g chocolate (milk, white, dark or a combination)
Pinch of salt
Toppings and flavourings
Freeze-dried raspberry crumb
Toasted flaked almonds
Fine desiccated coconut
Note: I used 150g of each milk, dark and white chocolate. You will need 50ml of double cream per 100g of chocolate, so 75ml of cream for 150g of chocolate.
Prepare the toppings first so that you are ready to add them once the ganache is ready. Place half a cup of freeze dried raspberry crumb into a food processor and pulse until you are left with a fine powder. Sift the powder and discard the seeds. You can also place whole pistachios into the food processor and pulse until you have a fine crumb.
Place each topping in a separate bowl (or teacup!) ready to go.
From left to right, starting at the top: freeze-dried raspberry powder, ground and chopped pistachios, desiccated coconut, freeze-dried raspberry crumb and finely chopped pistachios, grated orange zest
Set the toppings aside and move onto the ganache. Chop each type of chocolate separately, or just use chocolate buttons, and place each type of chocolate in a separate bowl.
Start with the milk chocolate. I used 150g of milk chocolate, so I needed 75ml of double cream. Place the double cream and salt into a saucepan and bring to a gentle simmer, then pour the hot cream over the chocolate and leave to sit for a few minutes.
Stir the chocolate until smooth. If there are still chunks of chocolate remaining but the mixture is cold, place it in the microwave on low for about 30 seconds, then stir again until smooth.
If you don’t want to flavour your ganache, set it in the fridge to cool as it is. It should only need about ten minutes before you fill your chocolate cups – you want it thin enough to work with but cold enough so that it doesn’t melt the chocolate case. Just below room temperature should be fine. You can also place the ganache in a piping bag for ease of use when filling the chocolate cups.
If you are flavouring your ganache, do this before placing it in the fridge. See below for the flavourings I used.
Halve the milk chocolate ganache, then add 2 – 3 tsp of the chopped pistachio and freeze-dried raspberry crumb to one half. To the second half, add 1 tsp of coconut extract and 2 tsp of fine desiccated coconut.
When you are ready to fill your chocolate cups either cut off the tip of the piping bag and squeeze the ganache into the cup, or place a teaspoon into each. I filled 6 white chocolate cups with the coconut ganache, and 6 milk chocolate cups with the pistachio and raspberry ganache. Level off the tops with a knife, then sprinkle with a little more topping.
Repeat the ganache process with each of the other types of chocolate – 150g of dark chocolate with 75ml of double cream, and 150g white chocolate with 75ml double cream.
My flavour combinations
(makes 6 of each)
White chocolate ganache flavoured with freeze-dried raspberry powder – in a white chocolate cup
White chocolate ganache flavoured with 1/2 tsp of rose water – in a dark chocolate cup
Dark chocolate ganache flavoured with 1 tsp of ground pistachio and 1tsp of armagnac – in a milk chocolate cup
Dark chocolate ganache flavoured with orange zest and topped with toasted flaked almonds – in a dark chocolate cup
Place the chocolates in the fridge, along with the remaining ganache, and leave it to set completely. You will use the remaining ganache to make the truffles.
For the truffles
Once the ganache has set, take it from the fridge to make the truffles. Take a teaspoon of chocolate and shape it into a ball, rolling it between your palms to smooth it out.
Drop the truffle into the topping and coat completely, then place in a cupcake case and back in the fridge to set.
Milk chocolate, raspberry & pistachio truffle
White chocolate & rose truffle coated with powdered freeze-dried raspberries
Dark chocolate & orange truffle, coated with toasted flaked almonds
Milk chocolate & coconut truffle
Dark chocolate, pistachio & Armagnac truffle coated with cocoa powder and ground pistachio
White chocolate & raspberry truffle coated with finely chopped pistachio