Exploring the Art of Chocolate Making & Molding

img_1139My love affair with chocolate isn’t limited to dark cacao; I share an equal affinity with white chocolate. But is white chocolate really chocolate? According to experts, since white chocolate doesn’t contain the same fatty solids of dark chocolate, it isn’t considered genuine chocolate. But that doesn’t prevent me from enjoying its creamy vanilla flavor and silky smooth texture.  So what exactly is white chocolate?  The primary constituents are cacao butter, powdered milk, sugar, and vanilla.

Can you make white chocolate at home?

Well, first, we need to define the difference between a chocolate maker and a chocolatier.  Both are artisans in the art of chocolate crafting. A chocolatier transforms chocolate couverture into the delectable confections we know and love. And while a chocolate maker sources, roasts, and grinds the cacao beans into chocolate couverture, rarely are the lines blurred between the two crafts.  And there’s a reason. The process for producing high-quality chocolate is difficult, costly, time-consuming, and requires specialized equipment and extensive knowledge that chocolatiers would prefer to leave to the chocolate makers. For the sake of argument, I kitchen-tested several DIY white chocolate recipes available online.

Before submitting my review, I want to applaud all the DIY chocolate makers out there for their efforts, and for sharing their formulas. white-chocolateWhile these recipes were suitable for molding and blending into frostings, none produced a quality finished product. So, I consulted with one of the country’s top artisan chocolate makers to solve the mystery. They stated that while dark chocolate can be replicated at home using high-quality cacao butter and cacao powder, “white chocolate requires a refining process outside the scope of common kitchen appliances,” referred to as conching. But their specialist did provide a retail link for a “home bench refiner,” i.e., mini conch for those DIY chocolate makers who would like to perfect their craft. On a personal note, I prefer to source my white chocolate from world-renowned Belgian chocolate maker, Callebaut. To melt it, dip it, mold it, wrap it, and best of all, eat it. When it comes to purchasing organic cacao butter and cacao powder in bulk, I look to Jedwards International as a sustainable “fair trade” purveyor for world-class cacao. For sourcing smaller quantities, I recommend Viva Naturals. Stay tuned for more chocolate adventures with The Weekend chocolatier. In the interim, here’s my easy tried-and-true recipe for making yummy, decadent dark chocolate.

Recipe notes:  What you will need: Metal bowl, whisk, chocolate/candy mold. Active prep time: 5-minutes. Yields 12-oz or 4-candy heart boxes. Difficulty level: Easy.

img_1189Ingredients:

  • 4-ounces organic deodorized cacao butter chopped
  • ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
  • 1 cup organic cacao powder
  • 1/3 cup Stevia or 1/4 cup honey
  • 1-tsp pure vanilla extract
  • pinch of Himalayan or sea salt

Preparation:

  1. Fill 2-qt saucepan halfway with water and bring to a boil.
  2. Place chopped cacao butter in a metal bowl and set atop saucepan, making sure water doesn’t touch the bottom of the bowl; you don’t want to cook the chocolate.
  3. Reduce heat to a simmer.
  4. Occasionally, whisk chocolate to facilitate melting. Note: Water is chocolate’s worst enemy, so avoid using wooden spoons as they tend to hold on to moisture. Whisks and rubber spatulas work, preferably.
  5. Once melted, remove the bowl from heat, wipe away any droplets of water from the underside of the bowl and transfer to a dry work area.
  6. Whisk in cacao powder and continue whisking till chocolate is smooth and glossy.
  7. Add sweetener, vanilla, salt, and whisk well. Chocolate will appear runny but will begin to thicken quickly.

img_1088   img_1094   img_1095

img_1100  chocolate

  1. Pour chocolate immediately into clean, dry molds (click for retailer info) and refrigerate for a couple of hours to temper.*
  2. To remove, work from underside rim of the mold, then gently squeeze plastic to release the chocolate.
  3. Fill with desired ingredients. It can be made ahead.
  4. To store, line container with wax paper, layer hearts, and lids and keep refrigerated or in the freezer.

chocolate-mold  img_1106

*Tempering is a transitional curve of cooling. If chocolate is left on the counter to cool, it will acquire a dull grayish color called ghosting and develops a waxy texture. This happens when the cocoa fat separates out. Tempering is an essential step for making smooth, glossy, evenly colored chocolate. For optimal results when dipping, banding, and molding, it’s best to work in small batches.

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