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Monday, 10 December 2012

Cookie exchange win for the baking impaired

Part of our holiday celebrations include the annual cookie exchange.
Now let me be clear, I am a lousy baker and a much worse cook. But That Guy is a pastry chef with a background in catering so my culinary abominations usually need not affect my dear family.  Yet as the holiday season approaches I know how much That Guy (who has an undeniable sweet tooth) would love something yummy that he didnt have to make himself.
Enter the cookie exchange! An ideal solution for providing my husband a freezer full of delicious for minimal cost, and lets face it, opportunity for things to go amiss in the kitchen.
All I have to do is make six dozen sweets.... with almost no skills....

But, my gentle readers, I have a solution! And moreover, one I am willing to share with you here today!
For roughly the same cost as baking six dozen cookies you can make six dozen beautiful jewel chocolates. They are easy enough that even I, or the average child, could make them.

You will need:
- jewel chocolate mold (available at your local big box craft store) $1.80 after coupon **please always use a coupon!**
- coloured melting chocolate (available at the same craft store) $2.10 after coupon/per bag.  I needed one bag for each colour and I chose to make four colours. = $8.40
- never before used paint brush - on hand
- pearl dust/ luster dust $5.20 after coupon/ per colour.  Using the same four colours as the chocolates =$20.80
- refrigerator - on hand
-microwave -on hand

Total cost $31/six dozen

I know that sounds like a lot of money. But if we factor in what it would cost us to make six dozen different types of holiday sweets I think we still come out ahead.  Plus, these chocolates just might be the prettiest dessert at the party, and that has to count for something.  :)

To begin, wash your mold and dry thoroughly.  When you think its dry, dry it one more time.  Water is the undoing of chocolate.  It causes it to seize, which pretty much means it goes lumpy, gross and unworkable.

Then take your paintbrush and brush a light coating of luster dust into each well of your mold. Remember to do the sides as well.

Next we have to melt the chocolate.  I choose to do this in a microwave because, frankly the stove and I are not friends.  However, if you and your stove have a positive working relationship feel free to pull out the ole double boiler and go at it that way.
Put the chocolate in a microwave safe bowl. I used the whole bag.  One whole bag each of four colours will make about seven dozen chocolates.  Put the bowl in the microwave for about 25 seconds. Remove and stir. Continue at 25 second pulses stirring between each. If you're thinking you can save yourself a lot of time by just microwaving the bowl for two minutes non stop, lets just say I promise that doesn't work out well.

I spooned my chocolate into a squeeze bottle for convince.  Spooning the melted chocolate into the mold directly would work fine too.

Once your chocolate is in the mold wells you need to pick up the mold and tap it against the counter. Use light moderate force and do this several times.  The purpose is to level the surface of the chocolates and to remove air bubbles caught inside the mold.  You might notice small bubbles rising as you tap, you're doing it right.

 Put your mold in the fridge.  That Guy assures me they only need about ten minutes in the fridge to set..  Being rather wary in the kitchen I gave them a full 30 minutes.  Remove them from the fridge, turn the mold over and gently pop out each chocolate.

Brush the tops and side of your chocolates in luster dust.  You may want to be slightly more generous with the dust this time than you were when coating the mold.

Package them up and take them to the cookie exchange where people will think you know your way around a kitchen ;)
Handy tip: if using the squeeze bottles for chocolate as I did they can be a pain in the neck to clean and waste a lot of yummy chocolate goodness in doing so.  Instead, put the squeeze bottle in the fridge. After a few minutes remove the bottle and give it a squeeze.  The chocolate will break off cleanly from the sides and bottom of the bottle and the bits can be shaken out into a zip top bag for future use (or snack). Then wash the bottles as normal.


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