Much more than simply baking cakes and eating making chocolates, I feel like I am properly bathing in all things prefun when it comes to our wedding. Before you think I am going full-cuckoo, I would like to point out that I am not alone in this obsession with anticipating fun and that there is research on the topic (also, another perfectly legitimate reason to persist on having a theme song for every single holiday!).
Having said all of that, I must admit that the wedding favors are something that I am lingering on for quite a while already.
At this point I started experimenting with chocolate molds as I found that making dipped chocolates resulted in very uneven shapes (my bad) that didn’t look very good most of the time.
The molds I bought make shells the size of half a ball (I bought them at Amazon). The size is just perfect to fit into the chocolate wrapper cups I found (is that how you call them?), and the challenge is to put as much filling into it without having it spill out after you ‘glue’ the two halves together in the second step (edgy scenario and I have to admit that my first two batches were not necessarily successful).
You can make these chocolates in any possible way, you could even consider using your (silicon) ice cube tray by filling it up with the caramel filling, putting it into the freezer and dipping the firm shapes into the tempered chocolate. In that case you might want to make your caramel a little thicker (see notes in the recipe).
What I am trying to say is that nothing should stop you from making these wonderful white chocolate pralines filled with cacao caramel, well maybe your time management rules, but as long as these taste this good, I am happy to ignore those. 🙂
- Cacao Caramel Filling
- 230 grams of sugar
- 200 milliliters of double cream
- 70 grams of butter (20 grams extra if you would like to use the caramel as a 'squeezable' filling)
- ¼ teaspoon of sea salt
- 1 tablespoon of Vanilla Extract
- 2 tablespoons of cacao powder
- 2 tablespoons of cacao nibs (optionally)
- For the chocolate shell (or chocolate dipping)
- 300 grams of white chocolate (of which 100 grams to be put to the side to use in the ‘tempering’ process)
- Optionally: more cacao powder to dust
- Makes around 24 chocolates
- Depending on the size of your mold, you might find that you will need more chocolate to dip or that you will have leftover filling or chocolate. You might want dip the caramels again, in case you didn’t properly cover the caramel during the first try (you'll see as the caramel will start to leak out). I am assuming that an excess of either chocolate or caramel can’t hurt (think caramel poured over ice cream), and have therefore taken a safer route that involves more than you will need for the chocolates.
- When buying your white chocolate, I would actually (controversially) say that you don't have to buy the nicest (or most expensive) bar. Just have a look at the ingredients and avoid ones that mainly exist out of sugar.
- First note: it turns out that these are taking quite some time to make as there are two steps in the process, but do hold up well if you temper the chocolate properly. In case you are serving these straight away I would go as far as saying that you might want to save time on that and just melt the chocolate without being bothered by the tempering directions. Additionally, you can always cover badly (or non-) tempered chocolate up by dusting it with cacao powder.
- Start off by melting the sugar in a large dry pan with a heavy bottom. Do not be tempted to use an anti-stick pan as the upper layer might burn off by the heat of the sugar mass. The pan needs to be large as the mixture will bubble up quite a bit.
- Let the sugar turn brown by not moving and not stirring. This is tricky as it might be smoking or looking a little threatening from time to time. These extensive instructions from David Lebovitz are very helpful in case of doubt or panic.
- After the caramel has a beautiful cognac color, add the cream. Be careful as the caramel is really hot at this point and all might bubble violently.
- Let all come up to a boil and wait for the mixture to become visibly thicker. I usually try to see how big the bubbles are, when they are the size of a large coin I will start to test the texture of the caramel. I usually keep a little plate closeby to test a drop of caramel on. If it cools into a soft little ball that holds it shape but becomes flat when you squeeze the mixture is right.
- After reaching the ‘soft ball’ stage, add the vanilla extract, salt, butter, cacao powder and cacao nibs (if you are using those) to the caramel and let it all come back to a boil for around 5 minutes, or - if you are using a thermometer until you reach 127 degrees Celsius. Turn of the heat and, in case you are dipping shapes into chocolate, you can pour the caramel into silicon forms (I simply use ice cube trays and a cake loaf silicon form for this) and let them cool until firm.
- If you would like to use the caramel as a filling in a molded chocolate shape, I would advise you to add one tablespoon of butter extra, as it will make it easier to pour it into the chocolate shells. There is no need to cool the mixture, and you could even leave it in the pan.
- Melting and tempering the chocolate
- Melt 200 grams of white chocolate au bain marie, until the mixture has reached a temperature of 45 degrees Celsius.
- Take the bowl off the heat and place it on a colder underground (such as your kitchen counter).
- Place the 100 gram piece in the molten chocolate to start the tempering process (find more instructions here, also for the process without a thermometer), . Stir the chocolate around until it has cooled to 26-27 degrees Celsius (note that temperatures differ per chocolate kind). Heat up the chocolate again until it has reached 32 degrees Celsius. Now it is ready for use.
- In case you are using a chocolate mold, I would advise you to use a teaspoon to drop the chocolate into the shapes and use said spoon to flatten it against the mold’s walls.
- I have found that using other techniques, such as scraping off the excess, make a huge mess and I personally prefer this. On youtube you can find a huge array of different instructions that might be good for you.
- Let the chocolate harden and fill it with the caramel mixture.
- Let the shells cool completely. Then, drop teaspoons of molten chocolate on top of the halves and stick them together. Goal is to completely cover the caramel, as it will otherwise drip out.
- In case you have poured your caramel into a form, take them out carefully (in case you are using a square form, simply slice the caramel into rectangles) and dip them in the chocolate on a fork, while trying to shake off the excess. Place them on a sheet of baking paper. DIp them again if you see that the caramel is not fully covered.
- Dust them with a little cacao to cover up any imperfections.
- These keep well for around 2-3 weeks in a airtight storage tub. That is in case you don’t want to eat another 20 of these immediately.