Creating Chocolate Candies


There is at least one in every family - an aunt, uncle, grandma, or sister - who makes those wonderful chocolate candies. When the family gathers and the plateful of turtles, filled candies or cherry cordials is set on the table - you can be sure the "chocolate vultures" will gather.

So is this talent of "candymaker" bestowed on only a few privileged individuals by the "chocolate gods"? Can mere chocolate-lovers become... creators of the chocolate?

Get started with some basic rules.

1. Gather your favorite recipes from friends, family members, and co-workers who are willing to share. If they suggest making a batch together - note all the little hints mentioned during the process.

2. Purchase a couple of books on candymaking. Books provide a step-by-step process to follow and additional recipes. They are also a very handy resource when something starts to go wrong with a recipe. Try "The Complete Photo Guide to Candy Making" by Autumn Carpenter who will lead you thru all the steps for all kinds of candy. If you are a beginner and want to learn all about chocolate,  "How to Make Chocolate Candies" by Bill Collins has all the instructions you need!

3. Find out who offers the best ingredients. Grocery stores offer limited candy making supplies. You may want to check with your favorite candy shops and ask what brand of chocolate they are using. Merckens chocolate is the preferred brand of many veteran chocolate creators.

4. Start out simple. If you have never melted chocolate before, start with confectionery coating instead of real chocolate. Real chocolate containing cocoa butter must maintain a constant temperature by "tempering" or your chocolate may become unattractive with grayish-white streaks on the surface. Confectionery coating needs to be melted slowly before molding or dipping.

5. Be prepared to throw away batches. If you want to maintain a reputation of a "great" candy maker where everyone swoops down on your offering at the family gatherings - throw out inferior batches. Also if a recipe doesn't seem to create a sensation, find something else that triggers that "sweet tooth".

Some ideas to get you started:

Molding Chocolate Candies

It's very easy to create solid chocolate treats with specially designed molds.

Melting:

Microwave Method - Place candy wafers in a microwave-safe container. Microwave for 30 seconds at half power. Stir coating. Carefully repeat this process until candy is completely melted and appears soft and smooth. DO NOT OVERHEAT! Overheating will cause coating to thicken and become unusable.

Flavors or colors may be added at this point, if desired. To flavor, you must use an oil-based flavor (LorAnn). To color, do not use liquid food color as it contains water; instead, use powdered food color or oil-based candy colors. Flavors (extracts) or colors containing water will thicken the coating.

Molding:

Spoon or pour the melted coating into dry molds. Tap the mold gently to remove any entrapped air bubbles. Place mold in freezer for a few minutes to set the coating. To release the candy from the mold, invert the mold and flex or tap the back of the mold.

Creating Filled Chocolates!

Why not create your own box of filled chocolates this year? It can be very simple when you use a chocolate mold.

1. Fill the cavity of the mold of your choice - such as a truffle mold - with chocolate and pour out excess. The chocolate should evenly coat the cavity. Use a scraper to scrape off any excess chocolate from rim of cavity.

2. Let the mold harden at room temperature for 4-5 minutes. Again scrape off any access - you can also place in refrigerator if it is warm in your kitchen to speed up the process.

3. Place the filling of your choice - such as caramel, peanut butter or raspberry - in the filled mold leaving at least 1/8" headspace.

4. Using a knife or squeeze-it bottle, place more melted chocolate on top of the filling, making sure the filling is completely sealed by chocolate. Scrape off all excess.

5. Put in refrigerator for approximately 5-6 minutes to set and until the chocolate pulls slightly away from mold.

6. When completely set, invert mold and chocolate is ready!

The Best Gifts come in Chocolate Packaging!

Pour box molds are delicious containers for candy or small trinkets. One of the more popular box molds is the Ribbon Tied Box. This chocolate mold is designed with an easy to color bow on the lid for added flair. Simply melt the summer coating color of your choice and fill bow area of mold. Let this harden in the freezer for a few minutes. Then you can pour your melted chocolate summer coating into lid and bottom portion of the box mold. (When creating a pour box, you must use the side of the mold sheet that has valleys in which to pour the chocolate, thus creating a box!) Pour boxes generally take more chocolate than regular molds. Be sure to have enough melted to fill entire cavity.

So get an early start. Find the recipes, search out the ingredients, make practice batches (your family will enjoy these) and be prepared for the "chocolate vultures" at your parties this year!

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