If you are just like us at Pack It Up, you LOVE chocolate and probably wondered how to make them yourself in your kitchen. Making your own fine chocolate at home could seem like a daunting task, but it is easier than you think.
Just like any other hobby and activity, life is simpler if you have the proper tools and accessories. So we will give you a tour of the different tools needed.
So first of all, let's go through the presentation of things you will need.
It's easier to separate chocolate making into 3 simple steps: tempering, moulding and finally filling the chocolate.
1. Tools to temper the chocolate.
You will find detailled info here, but to be short, tempering is the process that allows the chocolate to be shiny and snappy. It creates the beautiful finish we love on fine chocolates and transforms unassuming chocolate chips into shiny jewels. It is firm and breaks off with a snap and melts in your mouth, releasing all the flavour.
It's the first and most important part of the process. However, chocolate bonbon and bars require tempering to achieve their signature appearance, taste, and texture.
To temper the chocolate, you need to melt it first, bring it to a set temperature, then let it cool down for the (invisible) crystals to form.
You will need :
A mixing bowl
You will melt the chocolate over a bain-marie (letting the mixing bowl sit on top of a simmering pot or saucepan filled with 1 or 2 inches of water). You just need one large enough to cover your pot.
A spatula or high heat nylon mixer
To melt the chocolate you need tools to mix it gently so heat is uniform. But you don't want to add air to your chocolate to keep its texture nice. So don't use a whisk, and prefer heat-resistant spatulas.
Tempering requires precision as chocolate needs to reach specific temperatures. We highly recommend using a good quality digital thermometer with a prong you can dip into the bowl.
If you are adventurous (or are a purist) you can temper the chocolate with a more advanced method. In that case, you will pour melted chocolate on a marble counter and moved the chocolate around using two triangles (large spatulas) or offset spatulas. This will probably impress your friends, but the learning curve is a bit steeper.
2. Mould the chocolate.
All good, your chocolate is tempered. What do we do next? We act quickly to pour the melted chocolate in moulds.
You will need moulds to create the exterior shapes of your chocolate. We highly recommend polycarbonate moulds that are extremely solid and you will be able to use them for years. They are BPA-free and are the workhorse of all chocolaters' kitchens. They come in almost infinite shapes but we love the classic diamond and demi-sphere as starters. Softer plastic could be used too, but won't last more than a few batches.
A good metal ladle will be useful to pour the chocolate on the mold.
Triangles and offset spatulas
Once you poured the chcolate into the mould, you will have to remove the excess and clean the edge. You will first turn the mould upside down to let the excess drip and clean it properly with the spatulas across the flat side of the mould. You will also use them to close the chocolate with another layer of tempered chocolate after filling them.
Using a cooling rack helps to keep the working area cleaner. Simply let the mould upside down on the rack over a large pan and let the excess chocolate drip. You can always reheat the excess and use it later. Tempered chocolate can be melted over again.
3. Fill the chocolate
You created the external layer of your chocolate in the mould. Once they are set and form, you can fill them. Ganache, caramel, liquor, marzipan, fruits or nuts.
For this, you can use basic baking tools (spatulas, saucepans, whisk) depending on the recipe. You can then fill the hole of your chocolate, let it cool down and close them with tempered chocolate.
To do this, you will simply pour a layer of chocolate and set it cleanly with your large spatulas.
Now, it's time to practice. Check our recipe, advice and tips here :
Want your chocolate to pop? You can you food colouring, but you need fat soluble colouring powder for chocolate. Don't use regular liquid colouring as it won't work properly.
Some confiseries such as lolypop will need to be dipped in tempered chocolate. It is easier to use a dipping fork, so we included one also.
5. Share the love
At Pack It Up, we know sharing is loving. So we always include a few chocolate boxes that you can fill with your creation. They make for amazing gifts!