handmade chocolates Pretty hand crafted gifts are always well received and none more so than chocolate. With a few basic tools, making a wide range of handmade chocolate gifts is easy. Use Top Quality Chocolate Cocoa Beans Chocolatiers use couverture chocolate containing 32-39% cocoa butter. The higher cocoa solids figure seen on premium chocolate packaging is the total of cocoa butter and cocoa mass combined. Good chocolate should give a satisfying “snap” when broken and be more stable to work with. When “tempered” at the correct temperature, fat crystals in the chocolate help form a glossy surface free of white fat bloom once it hardens again. If you’re making handmade chocolates in bulk then it’s a good idea to stock up on chocolate.

Useful Tools for Making Handmade Chocolates

Spatula to spread chocolate on surfaces Silicone parchment to resist chocolates sticking Moulds to achieve uniformly designed chocolates in batches Triangular scraper for lifting items and making chocolate shavings Dipping forks and prongs

Easy Chocolate Making Ideas

Chocolate Pralines Half dipping something in chocolate is the easiest way to start. Try with larger items such as biscuits or meringues or dip morsels of dried fruit and nuts. Move on to simply melting chocolate into mini shaped moulds. Fill dates with ganache for a Middle Eastern treat.

Styles of Handmade Chocolates

Solid tablets of chocolate can be made in a custom mould. Scatter in ingredients such as nuts, puffed rice, popping candy or crystallised rose for visual effect. Or swirl together molten chocolates of different colours. Roll balls of thick ganache into truffles for classic handmade chocolates. You can roll truffles in any powdered ingredient. Cocoa powder is a natural choice but experiment also with bright sprinkles, sesame seeds or chopped pistachios which can look fabulous against a dark colour. chocolate truffles Chocolate lollipops can make a striking display. Either form shapes in a mould or freeform mendiant style studded with candied fruits or nuts. Chocolate candy chips come in many colours too. Mix ganaches with dried fruit and nuts and spread into a shallow container at 3cm depth. When solid cut into squares that show the ingredients inside. Dip balls or squares of ganache or caramel fillings using dipping forks to avoid spoiling the finish (or getting chocolate on fingers!)

The Finishing Touch

Drizzle chocolate onto parchment paper into designs that will solidify ready to use as decoration. Pipe molten chocolate into patterns or words. Whilst chocolate is still wet, dip it into chopped ingredients for added interest. Grate solid chocolate or make your own chocolate curls by scraping thin layers of molten chocolate after it has set.

Presenting and Packaging Handmade Chocolates

Paper petit fours cases cushion handmade chocolates. Moulded cardboard trays are better still. Loosely pile more robust chocolates in boxes but line these with pretty paper to look more “finished”. Cover chocolate tablets or lollipops with clear wrap, secure with stickers and tie. Pick lollipop sticks of paper straws like these in the picture below. Pink striped Lollipops sticks Tie packages up with beautiful ribbon bows with personalised tags. Store finished work in a cool dark place. Truffles can be kept in the fridge should be brought out 30 minutes before serving. This post is by Sarah Trivuncic editor at maisoncupcake.com