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Getting ready for Valentines!!

February 1st, 2011

Computer broke! Yes, bad news! It’s getting better now but I had to take a break from the virtual world. Good thing is I spent my time cooking and got a few posts done for Valentines!!! I’m going to publish them on the next days, starting today. First I have to say something.

Brazil doesn’t celebrate Valentines. Actually, we do have a similar date to celebrate “love” but it happens just in June 12th. I don’t know why, I could investigate but it’s not important. I just love to have excuses to enjoy it twice. And when I say “to enjoy”, I mean to eat twice as chocolate as I’d if I had just one date to celebrate. And even better, to pair my favorite ingredients using a lot of cocoa, of course! So I’m postponing my trip memories. Let’s talk about CHOCOLATE!  Because love without chocolate isn’t love!

I know chocolate can be scary to work with, especially if we start to talk about temperature, tempering, bloom, blablabla…. Unfortunately, there’s no way to avoid such work when you think about a high quality chocolate. But I have to ask you: “please, don’t give up before reading this post!!!”

I started to play with chocolate when I was 11, due to my sister Aline. We used to melt it in a boiling water bath, letting all the vapor get into the bowl. Funny is we didn’t have idea why the chocolate kept setting, even in a high heat. To handle that, we just used to work very quickly and ate all the hard and sandy leftovers. That’s how I learned chocolate doesn’t like humidity (the first and, I guess, the most important thing you have to know). In second comes the temperature, but it is not a taboo at all. Unless you burn the chocolate, what is unlike to happen, if the tempering goes wrong, the chocolate’ll still be good to use in baking recipes or good to be eaten, at least by you.

I’ll try to explain a simpler method, not a professional one but one that really suits a work evolving small amounts of chocolate such as the following recipes.

But first:

Tempering the chocolate:

Measure the chocolate you are going to work with (opt for a good quality one and avoid using chocolate chips).

You can use a water bath or a microwave to melt the chocolate. On the first case, never boil the water, don’t let the bottom of the chocolate bowl touch the water and never, ever drop water into the chocolate.

If using the microwave, melt the chocolate in medium power, stirring it each 30 second to help the melting process. Be careful to not over warm  the chocolate. Its own heat helps melting small solid pieces.

Once the chocolate is completely melted, lets start tempering. Place the bowl inside a cold water bath with a few ice cubes. Water doesn’t have to be freezing, just cold.

Using a spatula, stir chocolate constantly until you notice the first sign of solidification on the bottom. Take the chocolate bowl out of the water bath immediately and keep stirring for a few more minutes.

You can use the same process for dark, milk or white chocolate. You can feel the temperature using your lips, just placing a dab on them. The chocolate should feel chilled, not cold or warm. If you have a thermometer you can check the ideal temperatures: 32°C/90°F for dark chocolate and 30°C/86°F for milk and white.

Test a sample of the chocolate to observe if it sets quickly and without streaks. Now the chocolate is ready to be used!

Tempering chocolate requires patience and to be realistic, probably you won’t get it on the first time. And even making everything as it should be, we can get somewhat disappointed with the results.

But you can still mention how much time you spent on the kitchen and always use it as a truly proof of love!


Ginger and Vanilla Bean

Chocolate Hearts

To make these candies I bought cheap heart molds and they gave me a rustic and spotted candy surface. But you know what? I really liked it because at the end what really matters is not a shine, smooth, glossy heart, but what we can find inside!

And for one more time, brigadeiro!!! A really special one, flavored with a combination of ginger and vanilla.

For the filling, combine condensed milk, honey, butter, fresh grated ginger and vanilla bean seeds in a medium saucepan. Cook, stirring constantly, til you can see the bottom of the pan, about 10 min. For this recipe you have to obtain a creamer brigadeiro, softer than the original. Let it cool completely before using.

Meanwhile, make the chocolate shells using candy molds. Fill any concavity with tempered chocolate and invert the mold over a bowl to drain off the excess. Place the mold upside down in a rack and let the chocolate set. Fill the concavities with ginger and vanilla bean brigadeiro batch, leaving about 3mm (1/8in) of room on the top for a cap.

Cover each piece completely with more tempered chocolate. Lightly, knock the mold against a hard surface to remove any air pocket. You can use a shortcut putting the mold directly into a refrigerator for 10 min. But for a better result, let it stand at room temperature for 15 minutes and then on the fridge for extra 10 minutes.

Invert the mold into a hard and flat surface and flex or tap lightly to remove the candies.

Keep it at room temperature up to 4 days.

In the end you are going to agree with me: making these candies are not the real proof of love. The real proof of love is to resist eating them all and leaving some for who you really care about!

If you want to know more about chocolate tempering, check this book: Chocolates & Confections, by Peter Greweling.

7 Responses to “Getting ready for Valentines!!”

  1. Marcella

    Your blog entries are such a delight to read! Such gorgeous pictures!

  2. amanda areias

    Thanks Marcella! Hope see you again here!

  3. Sylvie @ Gourmande in the Kitchen

    Yes, I think you are right, the hard part would most certainly be not eating these all yourself! I love all your photos, but the one with the tempered chocolate on the back of the spoon is really spectacular.

  4. amanda areias

    You are so sweet! Thanks!

  5. give me flour » Blog Archive » The chocolate feast continues……..

    […] it’s time to add the tempered chocolate: divide the nut mix in two parts and work with one at a time. The chocolate can get cold and set […]

  6. give me flour » Blog Archive » You rather run!

    […] time to “build” our bars. When the caramel is completely cool, coat one side with tempered chocolate and let it set for 15 […]

  7. Anna Marie

    Your friends Evan & Becky H. showed me your blog. I am completely impressed with the photos, layout design and the recipes. Are you interested in doing side jobs in graphic design for our church? I have a couple of small projects.

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