Happy Mothers Day to all you wonderful Moms.
Five days ago, I decided to try making chocolate candy to give as gifts to the mothers that I work with (and to my crew to give to the moms in their lives). I read up on how to make chocolate, got some candy molds and milk chocolate chips (since I like them better than semisweet or that bitter dark chocolate), and experimented after work.
I wanted to use macadamia nuts, but they aren't feasible right now. My supplier was out of stock. Luckily, there were plenty of delicious pecans in this state.
My first attempt on Tuesday, I tried to cool the chocolate at room temperature. But it never set. It's gotten too hot and humid in these parts all ready. But I enjoyed eating that soft chocolate creation.
Second day, second attempt: I was inspired to use my jello shot molds. Actually, my Tiki head ice cube trays. I got them from the dollar store to make ice cubes and colorful, fun frozen flavored drinks cubes. But after making flavored ice cubes, I thought, "Hey, these would make fun jello shots!"
And they did! They were a big hit at the luau, and they've been a party staple since.
But I had concerns that they weren't right for chocolate candy molds, even though they were silicone. For one, they weren't designed for candy making. Two, they were more rigid than the flexible, soft candy molds. Plus, I was worried about chocolate sticking to the mold
The internet was not helpful. Some say never spray molds with nonstick. But some have had success! What really annoyed me was people giving their opinions without ever trying to make the chocolate candy themselves! Just because you "heard" or "read" that you shouldn't do this or that does NOT make you an expert!
What's also frustrating was the internet and other people giving advice on candy melts and NOT actual chocolate! Candy melts are NOT chocolate! Candy melts are hydrogenated oil products FLAVORED to taste and look like chocolate! It's like butter and margarine. Totally different products that share many similar qualities and applications. Tasty, but not the same! Each has its own quirks.
The best advice was from a guy who wrote about using cocoa butter in his molds first to make them nonstick, then using the chocolate. Genius! But natural, food grade cocoa butter costs more than the chocolate! He also gave me an inspired idea to use plastic, squeeze bottles to pour melted chocolate in the molds! His chocolate making tips were excellent and helpful.
I experimented by spraying one tray with nonstick spray, and leaving the other as is before filling with melted, tempered chocolate before freezing. The result: The unsprayed tray got chocolate stuck! The sprayed tray released the chocolate but there was a noticeable slippery when touched feeling. Both still tasted great.
Even better, after letting the set chocolate rest in a cool, dry area on waxed paper for an hour, the sprayed chocolates did not feel slippery any more, just like the chocolates made in the specified candy molds. I can use the jello shots mold to make awesome Tiki chocolate candies!
So I need to spray the jello shots mold to get the chocolate out of the complex, rigid tray, but the candy molds worked great without any need for spraying. I plan on using cocoa butter for the Tiki jello shots trays in the future when I use them for candy making. The candy molds worked fine on their own after freezing.
Third day and third attempt, I applied the lessons of the first two tries. First, I got a pair of squeeze bottles from the dollar store. Great buy and awesome tool! Made pouring the tempered melted chocolate into the molds easier and less messy!
My previous attempts led me to use my slow cooker as my warming vessel. I turn it on high (dry, nothing in the slow cooker but a clean dry towel). Then when it was warm enough (not too hot to burn but create a dry desert heat temperature), I turned it to warm. When I wasn't using the chocolate squeeze bottle, I wrapped it with clean paper towels and set carefully on towel bed in slow cooker. Covered the slow cooker. That kept the chocolate warm and melted while I added nuts or removed air or settled the chocolate in the molds by tapping or dropping them.
After making all the candies, I put them in the freezer to set. Took ten minutes for the candies to become hard enough to set. The guy that gave great tips about using cocoa butter and squeeze bottles also gave an awesome idea about lining the flat surface you're popping/dropping the candy on with a kitchen towel covered with a wax/parchment paper. So when the candy drops, it won't break on the hard surface.
I went even further and had mini muffin paper cups on top of the wax paper covered towel, so the candy just popped right in from the mold! I used a clear, clean plastic glove to pick up the chocolate pieces and set them straight before putting them in clear containers.
The third time really was charmed! Sweet success:
They were a big hit!
Plus, I made angel food cupcakes as a backup. Also a big hit! Good news: One angel food cup cake came out to about 56 calories! The other news: One milk chocolate candy came to 53 calories; with nuts, 57 calories. Both were tasty, decadent treats that delighted and made my crew happy.
I hope all you mothers out there got something wonderful and delicious for Mothers' Day. You're worth the effort, because you are a treasure for loving us so and all the special and amazing things that you do. Thank you.
If you're still lucky enough to have a good mother around, call her, tell her that you love her, thank her, and do something nice for her! She's a treasure and must be cherished and treated so! It doesn't have to be Mothers Day to just call her and do something nice, even just to say thanks. Any day your Mom is alive is a rare, golden opportunity to enjoy her company while you still can.
And to those of us who no longer have our moms, lift up a glass in her memory, treat yourself to something nice in her honor. Because you know she loved to do something special for you, just because...So, Cheers, Mom! I'm sharing (and eating) scrumptious treats for you! Love you!
Happy Mothers' Day, Moms! Thanks for being loving and wonderful every day of the year.