Yes, it’s that time of year again. Time for my good friend Jess and I to commit ourselves to chocolate making for one full weekend. It’s daunting every time and yet, I love it every time. It’s always more work than we remembered and it’s always more rewarding too. One of my favorite parts is deciding on our many flavors and we hit some winners this year!

But first things first, seven pounds of chocolate need to be chopped before it can be tempered and turned into shells. This year I borrowed and new weapon from a friend and I still had to chop a block every other day but each one sure went a lot faster!

ready to chopNext, up heading to Vancouver – I even had snow on the drive to help set the festive mood – and getting all set-up. We were both exhausted from a couple hard weeks so tried to take our time, lay everything out and only do things one at a time (and I still forgot to steep the chai in the cream for the chai truffles and tried putting the wrong filling in the wrong mold – but we managed to catch both things early and fix them!).

ready to go

Each mold with the makings for the centers

3 types of ganache and 1 vegan caramel waiting to be put into the chocolates

3 types of ganache and 1 vegan caramel waiting to be put into the chocolates

Next up the couple hours it takes to temper the chocolate. It has to be heated to the correct temp, then lowered back down and then brought up to the magical two degree range we then have to keep it at for the many, many hours it takes to finish the molds. We have learned to use as much chocolate as we can afford since the increased volume is easier to keep at a steady temperature.

Step one, coat the molds with chocolate. Step two, fill with ganache. Step three seal up the molds with more chocolate. (each step has to sit and set-up for an hour or so).

Molds all sealed up

Molds all sealed up

Jess has the hardest job - gently scraping the excess chocolate off (without breaking any) so we can release them from the molds.

Jess has the hardest job – gently scraping the excess chocolate off (without breaking any) so we can release them from the molds.

We spent quite a few hours this year convinced we’d lost temper on the chocolate and sure they were all going to be streaky and ugly. There was total joy (and maybe a few tears) when we unmolded the first batch and discovered that they were perfect!

Vegan burnt caramel

Vegan burnt caramel

This was the other saga of the chocolate making – my quest for vegan caramel. I originally wanted caramel that was soft enough to be a good center, but hard enough that we could cut it and dip it into the chocolate. I failed on all six tries. Luckily I saved this batch of burnt caramel – it just tasted too good to toss. We piped it into our new mold and it ended up being the best chocolate of the season! Gotta love (and trust in) happy accidents.

Here are our other creations:

White chocolate peppermint

White chocolate peppermint

Milk chocolate caramel hazlenut

Milk chocolate caramel hazelnut

Dark milk chocolate chai

Dark milk chocolate chai

We also dipped vegan peanut butter balls, pretzels and a few swedish fish into the chocolate.

pretzels and pb balls

And, we’ve learned to use all the excess chocolate to make tasty bark – another way to play with new and tasty flavors.

This year we had cranberry, macadamia nut & white chocolate; toffee, cashews & bacon salt and "kitchen sink bark" with the rest of the white chocolate, macadamia nuts, cashews and a few hazelnuts.

This year we had cranberry, macadamia nut & white chocolate; toffee, cashews & bacon salt and “kitchen sink bark” with the rest of the white chocolate, macadamia nuts, cashews and a few hazelnuts.

The next day was my other favorite part – packaging up all our pretty chocolates!

All this stuff and I stuck to simple white boxes with either red or green bakers twine.

All this stuff and I stuck to simple white boxes with either red or green bakers twine.

The vegan box (peanut butter balls and cardamom caramels)

The vegan box (peanut butter balls and cardamom caramels)

ptrezel boxsampler box

And finally, the best part of all. Giving these treasures out to friends and family!

Well that and starting to think up possibilities for next year 🙂

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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