Design Your Own Chocolate Bars
Small personalised gifts are delightful, both at the receiving and giving end. In giving you have the added pleasure of creating the gift, as I recently experienced with making my own chocolate bars. Chocolate bars are an easy inroad into chocolate making, as they do not require the multiple and fiddly steps of creating pralines or filled chocolates. The first step to making good chocolate bars is to learn to temper couverture chocolate and this is easily done in a microwave. Tempering chocolate is a process of melting the chocolate gently so that a particular cocoa butter crystal, the beta crystal, becomes the dominant form in the molten mass, thus ensuring that once the chocolate hardens it is shiny, smooth in texture and snaps crisply. Once you have mastered that technique you are ready to pour it into your chosen moulds and start decorating.
The Savour Chocolate and Patisserie School in Brunswick has a shop with everything you need. They stock milk, dark and single origin Callebaut chocolate buttons and polycarbonate moulds which are rigid, easy to use, quality moulds. You can shop online too.
Ensure your moulds are completely clean and dry before use. After tempering your chocolate, immediately pour it into the mould, overfilling it slightly and using a metal scraper, scrape off the excess into a bowl for re-use at another time. You can decorate the back side of the chocolate bar with cocoa nibs, nuts, glace fruit or dried rose petals while the chocolate is still soft. Place the decorated bars in the fridge for 15 minutes to harden and shrink away from the sides of the mould. To remove the bars, place a clean piece of grease proof or baking paper on the kitchen bench. Grabbing opposite corners, slightly twist the mould and then tap upside down on one corner over the paper. They should drop out immediately. Use disposable gloves to handle the bars; they will prevent finger prints and melted edges spoiling your creations.
Your creative process doesn’t stop at this point. Wrapping the bars in tissue paper and beautiful slips of printed paper is an important part of making this artistic product and great fun. Start collecting interesting paper and remember you don’t need much of it, so some bits can be re-cycled from other decorative packaging. Beautiful papers, including rice paper, can also be bought quite cheaply on your travels to exotic countries or obtained from craft and art suppliers. Try papermarc in Hawthorn for a great selection of Japanese papers. If you are very artistic you could even hand paint a design.