Pumpkin-caramel ganache in milk-chocolate shells

Pumpkin-caramel chocolates

Pumpkin-caramel ganache in milk-chocolate shells with dark-chocolate bottoms. I was tempted to Photoshop out all the cracks and fissures, but the unadulterated photo shows what can happen to your molded chocolates if you bang the molds too harshly when trying to release the chocolates.
Recipe from Peter Greweling’s Chocolates and Confections.

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Please don’t say they taste like Mounds bars

dish of coconut squares

Coconut squares

Confections-making season has finally arrived! The long, hot, humid summer of 2013 was finally behind me, so with renewed aplomb I dived into Peter Greweling’s Coconut Squares from his book, Chocolates and Confections, 2nd edition. I do not remember why I chose this recipe, though I had been anticipating making the squares for some time. I bought the dessicated coconut about a month before attempting the recipe, and about two months before bought several bottles of inverted sugar and four 15-inch caramel rulers from JBPrince. A satisfying splurge, indeed. (The caramel rulers, not the chocolate squares.)

The procedure was rather straightforward: cook some sugar syrup, moisten the coconut with the sugar syrup, then cook up a lot of sugar syrup, and add that syrup, plus some frappe (or marshmallow creme) to the coconut. Mix it all together well, then spread into a 12×12-inch frame. Let set. Coat one side of the slab with bittersweet chocolate. When the chocolate sets, flip the slab and cut into 1-inch squares. Dip each square in tempered chocolate, add a little swooshy-swoosh flourish with a dipping fork, then sprinkle on a few strands of dessicated coconut.

They looked great and tasted pretty darn good. I brought some into work and received a few “Fabulous! Tastes just like a Mounds bar!” comments. Yikes! If I wanted to present substandard, cheap confections to my colleagues I would have hopped across the street to CVS to get a sack of Fun-Size Mounds instead of spending much of my weekend and spare change creating coconut squares.

In the interest of understanding and perfecting my craft, I did a Mounds – homemade-coconut-square taste test.

The coconut-filling taste was almost the same, but homemade had brighter flavor. The chocolate of Mounds bar was soft, not snappy, and was a dull, ugly brown with machine-engineered “waves.” And the chocolate has a wimpy flat taste. The chocolate on the homemade specimen, of course, had a beautiful shine and snap — and a rich chocolate taste.

Not a big fan either way, though; I prefer rich, creamy, dreamy fillings. Wish I could remember why I chose to make these to begin with.

Paul A. Young’s Honey and Tahini Ganache with Toasted Sesame Seeds

Honey and tahini ganache

Honey and tahini ganache with toasted sesame seeds, from Paul A. Young's "Adventures with Chocolate." (Click on photo for larger image.)

I received Paul A. Young’s Adventures with Chocolate as a birthday gift. I’d never heard of Young before, but by perusing the text and images of this entertaining book, I discovered he’s a serious chocolatier with a bold streak of whimsy, as evidenced in part by such recipe titles as “Fig and Date Tarts with Cumin-Chocolate Syrup,” “Basil and Lemon-Thyme Ganache,” and “Honey-Cured Bacon, Stilton, and Chocolate Sandwich.” Most of the recipes in this book are must-tries, but I started with the Honey and Tahini Ganache with Toasted Sesame Seeds because it looked easy [read: required no tempering or dipping] and called for ingredients easily found at the supermarket — or at least I had initially thought so. . .
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