As far back as I can remember, making chocolates for Easter, Valentine’s Day and Christmas has been a life long family tradition. We used to give our homemade confections to friends, teachers, classmates, and even sold a few for Easter and Valentine’s Day for some extra cash.
Here are a few tips I have learned over the years about making homemade chocolates.
-Use chocolate wafers or blocks when making candy. Chocolate chips will not produce the best results. Wilton chocolate wafers can be found at Micheal’s but I only buy it when I cannot get the good stuff. Growing up we purchased our candy supplies at a specialty store. I have also seen blocks of chocolate at health food stores such as Oliver’s, Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s.
-Use a warm metal spoon or preferably plastic utensil when working with chocolate. Wood contains small traces of moisture and therefore should not be used.
-Use only oil based flavorings and powered or oil based coloring specified for chocolate candy. Regular food coloring will not work.
-Use plastic paint brushes for dusting powder or painting details in the molds. They are less likely to loose their bristles in the chocolate.
-Other equipment: waxed paper, small plastic paint brushes.
-Melted chocolate should easily pour off a spoon.
-When using blocks of chocolate, finely chop the chocolate before melting.
-Chocolate must never come in contact with water. Liquids cause the chocolate to become grainy.
-If chocolate becomes too thick from over cooking or moisture gets in, try adding a small amount of shortening or Paramount Crystals to the melted chocolate. never add butter or a liquid.
–Microwave: melt on defrost setting. Stir after one minute then every 30-40 seconds until melted.
–Double Boiler or bowl: Do not melt chocolate over boiling water. When using a double boiler, place about 1 inch of hot water in the lower chamber and bring just to a boil. Set the pan off the chamber and add the upper chamber containing the chocolate. Stir after 1 minute, then frequently until the candy is melted and smooth. If the candy begins to set or becomes too cool, set only the lower chamber with water back on the burner and reheat.
–Electric Skillet: Set skillet to warm. Place a shallow rack or 2-3 layers of toweling in it. Add about 1 inch of warm water. Set bowls or containers of candy in the skillet. (If the water steams it is too hot.) Stir the candy frequently and avoid getting any water in the chocolate. An electric skillet can be used to keep the chocolate at the correct temperature. Place small containers, decorator bags or squeeze bottles in the skillet on top of the toweling.
–Heating pad: Less chance of water or moisture getting into the chocolate. Set heating pad to high. Use a folded beach towel to cover the heating pad. Place the containers between the layers of toweling.
CARE OF MOLDS:
-Wash molds in warm water.
-Do not use Soap and never put them in the dishwasher. Repeated use of soap on the molds will cause them to become brittle and dry.
-Air dry or use a soft towel. Paper towels will scratch the molds. These scratches are noticeable in the candy produced from the molds.
-Do not over fill molds.
-After a mold is filled, tap the mold on the counter top to release any air bubbles.
SETTING THE CHOCOLATE:
-Use the refrigerator or freezer to help set the chocolate faster.
-Make sure to check the chocolate frequently and remove the chocolate from the refrigerator or freezer as soon as it is set. Leaving the chocolate in longer will result in a dull exterior.
-It is advisable to use a thin cotton glove when handling the chocolate to avoid fingerprints.