Easter is a time for celebration with friends and loved ones, ushering in spring, and of course allowing the sweet tooth to indulge in its favorite treats, especially chocolate! Many people just pick up their Easter candy from the grocery store. This candy comes in fun shapes for the season and who doesn’t love Easter egg, bunny, or flower shaped chocolates? But as appealing as these chocolates look, they are often quite expensive or, if they are less expensive, made from low quality and unhealthy ingredients. Instead, we at Sulpice Chocolat, will show how to make your own fun shaped chocolate with better quality, better tasting chocolates for less.
Why should I avoid lower quality chocolate?
Lower quality chocolate often contains unhealthy ingredients, especially trans fats marked as “partially (or fully) hydrogenated oils.” Trans fats have been linked to possible increased “risks for heart disease by increasing "bad" LDL cholesterol and decreasing "good" HDL cholesterol.” The maximum amount of trans fats per day a person should have is 2 grams. However, the FDA has ruled that if a product contains .49 grams or less of trans fats per serving the company can put 0 grams trans fat on the nutritional information, so even if a product says “0 grams trans fat” you could be unknowingly eating 25% of your maximum intake. To top it off, the Chocolate Manufacturer’s Association is trying to change the definition of chocolate to allow companies to use cheaper substitutes, such as oil, in place of cocoa butter, the primary ingredient that makes chocolate chocolate. All these are reasons to be concerned with the ingredients and quality of your chocolate.
Quality chocolate is made with cocoa butter and all natural, simple ingredients with no artificial additives, preservatives, or oils.
Personally, I feel a twinge of guilt when I give someone a gift made ingredients I would not eat myself for health reasons. Also, you can experiment with flavors, such as chocolate with orange peel or mint to fit the unique palettes and give a truly unique gift and experience to your loved ones. So this year instead of picking up that cheap trans fat laden chocolate, go for a bit higher quality and make something truly special.
What you will need:
- Plastic candy molds
- High quality pure chocolate (not chocolate mixed with nuts, fillings, fruits, etc… you may use flavored chocolate, such as chocolate with orange peel or mint as long as the bar is solid chocolate).
- Candy thermometer (for tempering)
- Double boiler or microwave for melting chocolate
- Small glass bowl
- Spoon for mixing and pouring chocolate into the molds
- (Optional) Paintbrush or smaller-tipped utensils for detailing
- (Optional) Oil-based chocolate coloring, if you are using white chocolate
Many people are intimidated by molding chocolates, treating it like a mysterious craft only the truly gifted can master. Actually, chocolate molding is quite easy. First, you must find chocolate molds. These molds typically come as plastic trays with 6 to 10 molds per tray. You can find these at most craft stores and candy supply stores for between $2-$4 dollars each. I also bought a soap mold, with frog and turtle shapes that I use for making larger chocolates. Craft stores also sell candy melting wafers, I recommend NOT buying these wafers because they contain the partially hydrogenated oils that you want to avoid.
Now, the wafers craft stores sell are already tempered, so if you use higher quality chocolate, you will have to temper it yourself before you put the chocolate in the molds. Tempering chocolate is the process of cooling melted chocolate to a certain temperature (depending of the cocoa percentage) before pouring it into the molds. Chocolates made with tempered chocolate will be shiny and snap when you break it. Untempered chocolate will remain soft, dull, and pliable. If you do not know how to temper chocolate you can learn how to in our post about tempering chocolate with the double boiler method or with this video that uses the microwave method.
If you want
you can add color to white chocolate to add more spring to your Easter
gifts. I found chocolate coloring at the
craft store in the same aisle as the chocolate molds. You CANNOT use regular food coloring in
chocolate because regular food coloring is water-based and will cause the
chocolate to seize. Instead you must use
coloring that is oil-based. Add the color
to the chocolate right before you beginning tempering your melted chocolate.
After you have tempered (and colored your white chocolate, if you choose) your chocolate, you can begin filling your molds. This is where the real fun begins.
If you are using multiples colors or chocolate in a single mold, you must do it in layers. Fill all the spaces where a single color will be and then let that color dry completely before continuing with the next. If you are doing smaller detailing, you must use smaller tools than a spoon. You may use a small paintbrush or any utensils with a small tip. I used a chopstick to dab the yellow centers of my flowers onto the mold.
If you are using all one color, fill the mold completely making sure to remove as much excess chocolate around the edges as possible. Refrigerate the chocolate until it has completely dried. This may take between 5 and 20 minutes depending on the size of the mold. When the chocolate has completely set turn the mold upside down and gently tap it. The molded chocolate should come out easily. If the chocolate does not pop out with a gentle tap put the chocolate back in the refrigerator and let it set for a few more minutes.
That’s it! Pretty easy, huh?
All that’s left is to do is package it. You can put the chocolates in seasonal bags with twist ties, or in small decorated boxes, or even just in an Easter basket. Let your imagination run wild and just have fun with it! Send us pictures of your molded chocolates and we might put them on our blog!
Have a Happy Easter!