Monday, April 20, 2009

Decorated Chocolate Cups

At my April baking class, we made white chocolate cups, decorated with transfer sheets. I think these are so darn fancy, and yet...they are incredibly simple to make. Come along (motioning with my arm for you to follow me), let me show you!

Here is the sample I made, prior to the class. I wanted something to show the gals, and made this earlier in the day:

Now the fun starts with this little baby; the Tempering Unit. Just a quick review....tempering chocolate is the process of precisely heating AND cooling, so that the chocolate will set up into it's original state If you want to make chocolate candies, bark, decorations, or dipped strawberries that have that crisp,'ll need to temper your chocolate.

Melting chocolate is great for dipping, but it wont "set up" like tempered chocolate.

You can temper by hand, I did it at chocolate school, and it sure made me appreciate my machine. Hand tempering involved heating the chocolate to a specific temperature, and then adding solid ("seed") chocolate, and having it cool to a precise temperature, and then it is ready to use. This is a fragile process and it's easy to mess it up.

Many people, rather than tempering real chocolate, resort to fake, waxy, chocolate flavored wafers. They arent bad, but they are NOT chocolate! :)

So, this machine is will temper the chocolate fairly quickly. You can walk away once you get it going, as it does all the work, and beeps when it's ready. It doesnt get hot, at's kid friendly, and mom-brain friendly too!

So, to get it going, you "prime" it, by rubbing chocolate on the rubber spatula and inside the bowl. This will help it run smoothly.

Once you prime it, you can select the setting; milk, dark or white. The process is so delicate, that it has a different setting for the different types of chocolate.

Then, walk away and go aboutyour business. Or, stare at it, because it's your new best friend! See how the solid chocolate is on one side (you can add up to 1.5 pounds) and the tempered chocolate remains on the other side. The "baffle", which is the bar in the middle, is attached to the rubber spatula, which goes around and around and around, making you dizzy! Dizzy with EXCITEMENT!!!

Now, it was time for the class to select their design. We use "transfer sheets", which are colorful and decorative. They are plastic sheets that have cocoa butter designs. There is no taste, and they are fun and easy to use.

I have Prairie (looks like grass), Blue Flowers....

There is Kiwi or Daisy

Bonnie is going to be using our Heart design.

These transfers are often used to make candies (they come in a variety of holiday and special occasion designs too!)..but when I saw them used for these cups..well, I couldnt wait to do this at my baking class. You simply cut them into a rectangular shape, approx. 2" X 4", and put them on parchment paper.

The tempering is done! It took about 15 minutes, and it gave a cute little "beep" to let me know it was ready. The chocolate will harden if left in the bowl, and white chocolate sets up (hardens) the, let's get to work!

Im using my ladle to put some on Bonnie's transfer sheets.

***FOCUS ON THE PROJECT PLEASE. I see your eyes wandering, and this is not the "muffin top" class, it's the "Decorated White Chocolate Cups" attention!!

Bonnie spreads the chocolate onto the sheet, making a thin layer. It's ok if it goes off the sides, it's on parchment paper, making clean up easy.

Sheila, our class photographer, is making 2 sets, one in Kiwi and one in Daisy..perfect for an Easter celebration!

Once the chocolate is spread, you simply put them in the fridge for about 3 minutes.


It might be best to do this project alone. If you have chatty friends, or a chatty baking class instructor, or just someone that is rambling on and not paying attention, you may forget to take your chocolate out of the fridge, and it might be "set up" (too hard) to work with. Im not saying it happened here, and if it did, it was probably Melissa's fault, as she is a real talker.

After a few minutes in the fridge, bring them out and shape them. The chocolate will be tacky, but you can still bend the transfer sheets nicely. Here we pinched the sides together and stood them on end. We were able to move the pliable transfer sheets and get the center of the cup to take shape.

Then, we put them back in the fridge for another 20 minutes, until they were completely solid. The transfer sheets will come right off when ready to eat.

Now, if you are wondering what you can do with these pretty things..well, you can pipe in some mousse, fill them with beautiful berries. Close your eyes and imagine if you will, **dont really close your eyes, I need you to keep reading**...that you are having friends over, or a ladies have your favorite dessert plates, which you accent with a few drops of a dessert sauce..just to make things special. You set out a cup, pipe in some mousse, and are so Top Chef-ish!

Arent these amazing? And it took us less than 45 minutes, from start to finish! If you want to see a more professional version...scroll down a bit. Our catalog shows them off in the Kiwi design, with the mousse already piped in. GORGEOUS!

By the way, Tammigirl asked me to show some of the Easter Chick cake pops that were made with tempered white chocolate (colored yellow) they are:

I had made more, to give to all my kids' teachers, but my youngest kept stealing them!!! No kidding!! They do look tempting :)

Thursday, April 9, 2009

The REAL cake pop chicks of the OC

I had so much fun last week, preparing for Easter. I really wanted to make the adorable cake pops that I saw on Bakerella

So, I got out all my supplies and set forth on this task:

First, I made a chocolate cake, and it wasnt just any old chocolate siree...nothing but the best for me and my friends, it was a Dove Chocolate Discoveries "cupcake kit" cake. (You can make cakes or cupcakes from this versatile product!) I baked it, and let it cool, look how serene it looks. It has no idea that it will soon be torn apart for some wild fun.

Next, it was time to make some frosting. Again, Im all about good taste, so it's Dove Chocolate Discoveries buttercream frosting (included in the cupcake kit)...

And, you might think, oh whatever with the frosting, but guess what, this frosting has REAL Dove chocolate in it! YUM!

And, if Im going to stir up all that high quality chocolate, might as well be with a high quality rubber spatula, right????

Ok, Ok, I promise this is not a Dove Chocolate Discoveries commercial, but I just wanted you all to see that cake pops can be high quality treats.

Now the frosting is complete.

That poor, quiet, unassuming cake was torn to bits, broken into a fine crumb, and mixed together with the yummy frosting. After they were mixed well, I rolled them into balls and laid them out on parchment paper.

This was a lot of fun and I was getting so excited as my little chicks were taking shape. Although, I did have a few *teeny* *tiny* concerns about the little some of them seemed, well, less than perfectly round. But I figured that would all work itself out.

While those little cake balls firmed up in the fridge, I took to sorting out the little noses and feet and hands....

Soon it was time to cover my pops in chocolate. Now, I had a big dilemna of the moral type. I mean, Im all about chocolate, REAL chocolate, right? No fake, waxy "chocolate flavored wafers" for me! HOWEVER, I was making 2 batches of these chicks....about 40 that would be inhaled by 2nd graders, and another 10 for teachers with exquisite taste.

It seemed a waste, to dip the chicks for kids in real chocolate. Sorry, Im an ageist, Ill admit it right now! So, the pops made for kids got faux chocolate. I did use real Dove Chocolate Discoveries white chocolate (with yellow coloring) for the adult pops, and they looked identical, just an FYI (although, as the official taste-tester - WELL, someone's got to do it!! - I can tell you the real chocolate tastes even better!)

I melted my little wafers in a narrow coffee mug....I wanted more depth for dipping....

Here is the first chicky....

Ill admit, I was disappointed. I wanted a perfectly round, evenly covered chick. That's how Bakerella's look, that's how mine should look.

Chick after chick came out looking, well, less than perfect.

Take this poor chick:

Now, earlier in the week, we had all gone and had our pictures taken. The very nice gentleman taking the picture was covered (and I mean, COVERED) in skin tags. I can tell you, that throughout the entire photo session, I was worried that my kids would comment or ask about his skin tags. Honest. Young children, might get curious and ask, "what are those bumps hanging off his face?"...and I feared it. But they didnt ask, but anyways....

I had asked My Honey,

"How does this guy look?"

I was feeling discouraged at the less-than-perfect appearance, and his response didnt help,

"It looks like that photographer we had for our pictures."

THANKS! Now I feel confident!

But you know, I realized, that nobody is perfect.

That photographer was a very nice man, and after a few moments, I hardly even noticed his skin tags anymore (ok, I did, but they didnt matter!) He was a person, a man made in God's image, and he was not defined by his outward appearance.

And, there are many other people that go around looking less than perfect (ok, mostly everyone) and it doesnt interfere with their ability to live meaningful lives, successful lives.

Take Donald Trump, with that hideous hair, he still has a nice life:

Perhaps living in the OC, and watching that horrific reality show, about the Housewives, has skewed my perception. That world where everyone looks perfect, it doesnt really exist, not even here in the you remember this post that I did? With the REAL housewives of the OC???

So, who cares of my chick pops look like they missed their botox appointment. They were adorable, with character and personality. Look at this guy, what mother wouldnt love that face!!??

Actually, after a while, I sort of got the hang of dipping. And with the white chocolate, I let them dry with a generous coating (I wasnt trying to spin off all the drippy excess) and they came out even nicer.

But here is the clan, looking, well, cute, but kind of sad, as they were about to be devoured by hungry 2nd graders. No since getting all dressed up for that, right??

Monday, April 6, 2009

talk about a wild ride

Well, when I signed on to be a Chocolatier with Dove Chocolate Discoveries, I knew I would be having fun, but I never knew how amazing it would be.

I am now on YouTube, the video is at the bottom of this page.

AND...hurry back, because I made (copied) Easter cake pops, created by Bakerella. Mine didnt come out *quite* as perfect, and Ive got pictures to prove it!

My Honey promised to upload them for me tonight, so stay tuned!

My Chocolate Videos