Friday, 1 December 2017

Update on the chocolate advent envelope garland thing

This week has been a lesson for me in terms of a) being a bit more organised and b) accepting that things don't always go to plan.

As regular visitors to Comfy Marmalade land will be aware, I made an advent calendar garland using small brown paper envelopes, into which I planned to pop a chocolate made using the moulds from last year's advent calendars.  I planned to make the chocolates towards the end of November but as with everything, life gets in the way and I found myself somewhat on the last minute.  As a consequence, I wouldn't say I rushed the process, but I probably didn't do enough research into the best way to melt chocolate into moulds.

I took advice that suggested mixing the chocolate with a small amount of butter, which all seemed to be going very well - the chocolate was nice and runny and I was quite smugly pleased with how I'd managed to get most of the chocolate into the moulds rather than around them.  I left them to set and waited.  And waited. And waited a bit more.  I tried the fridge, the freezer, and room temperature.  After 24 hours I admitted defeat - the chocolate refused to solidify and remained in a sort of stodgy, non solid form.  Marvellous.

I did a little more research online and realised that I'd been badly advised and, had I taken just a little bit of extra time to prepare, I could probably have saved myself a whole load of hassle.  And embarrassment.

So last night (the eve of December, less than 12 hours before the advent calendar was due to be cracked open) I tried again using a method promoted online.  And guess what?  IT WORKED!!

Oh happy, happy days. Relief and joy.  So here, Comfy friends, is how you should actually melt your chocolate into moulds:

Take yourself a bar of milk chocolate.  Nothing else.  Definitely no butter.  I bought a 120g bar and it was just the right amount for my 24 moulds.

Break the chocolate into a microwaveable bowl and nuke the chocolate in said microwave, 15 seconds at a time.  After each 15 seconds, stir the chocolate.  It doesn't take long, maybe a minute or so in total.

Once it has completely melted, transfer it into a cold bowl.  This is to help the chocolate to temper, apparently.  I don't know exactly what this means, but I think it's to do with how the fats in the chocolate work when the chocolate is melted - the tempering encourages them to do something helpful and the chocolate to reconstitute and solidify itself again. So there.

Start decanting the chocolate into the moulds.  I did this using a teaspoon and dribbling it into the moulds.

Once you've filled all your moulds, give the tray a gentle shake and a gentle bang on the worktop a couple of times.  This helps the chocolate to settle and gets any air bubbles out.  It also helps the chocolate to seep into all the nooks and crannies of the mould.

Pop the tray into your freezer.  It needs to stay in for at least 5 minutes but it can stay in as long as you want.  I left mine in for a couple of hours while I did other things.  The freezing helps to give a nice sheen on the chocolate too, apparently.

When you're ready, take the chocs out of the freezer and start to pop them out of the moulds.  So satisfying!  And they look amazing!

The detail is great and they have that lovely shine to them.  Yes I've not been the most accurate so a couple have 'extra' around the edges, but I've just trimmed the excess off with a knife.  I've wrapped each one in the saved Quality Street wrappers and I have to admit that in a bowl, they look really lovely and colourful.  In fact I think I might make another couple of batches and leave them on the side in a bowl for festive visitors to help themselves.  And I might also look to make them into Christmas tree decorations by attaching some kind of hanging thread on them - at a cost of approximately £1 for 24 they're much cheaper than most shop-bought tree decorations.

I'm delighted and relieved that they worked (in the end!) and I'm sorry for the bum steer regarding adding butter.  Don't forget to save the moulds from your kids' advent calendars this year and you can do the same in 2018!

Happy chocolating!

Bye for now xx

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