I have been wanting to make chocolate myself since I was very young, after I saw it being done on a Japanese TV program. Every Valentine's Day, girls will carefully make a box of beautiful chocolates for the boys they have crush on. It's a way to express their feelings. I think, even if she gets refused, she has still enjoyed the process of making these chocolates. Anyway, it's a romantic and pleasant thing to do after all.
Some tips: Be sure to use bittersweet baking chocolate—I prefer French. Ordinary, ready-to-eat chocolate contains too much sugar and milk, so it'll be too sweet when paired with the sweet fillings.
For the fillings, the ideal ingredients will form a soft mass. I used Nutella mixed with chopped nuts. You could also try jam and raisings, butter and cream, or even the black sesame tangyuan fillings sold in most markets. Just use your imagination! If you want to use liquid fillings, lengthen the freezing time so it becomes solid, otherwise it won't seal.
Finally, for the chocolate molds, Taobao is a great place! These are thin plastic molds that bend fairly easily for removal of the finished chocolates. Jelly molds can also be used, and in a pinch you could try the flexible silicone ice-cube molds that come in various shapes, but the hard plastic trays must be avoided or your chocolates will crack when you try to remove them.
200g baking chocolate, cut to small pieces
almonds, lightly toasted and finely chopped
walnut, lightly toasted and finely chopped
1. Fill a milk pot 1/3 of the way with water. Put 100g of the chocolate into a bowl that is large enough to cover the pot (steam should not come into contact with the chocolate), and put it on top of the pot. Heat on low. When the steam begins to melt the chocolate, turn the burner off and allow the remaining heat to slowly melt the rest of the chocolate. Stir, and make sure the temperature is not too high; otherwise the chocolate will burn.
2. Paint the melted chocolate finely over the sides of the molds to form a hollow shell.
3. Refrigerate the chocolate in the molds for 10 minutes or until they hold their shape.
4. In the meantime, prepare the fillings, according to your taste—for instance, a mixture of Nutella and chopped almonds or walnuts; or strawberry jam with raisins.
5. Add fillings. Fill them tight and nearly to the top of the mold, leaving just a little space to seal them off.
6. Melt the remaining 100g chocolate. Pour it over the top of each mold, sealing in the filling. This will be the bottom of the chocolate.
7. Refrigerate for another 20 or 30 minutes. After the chocolates are formed, leave them at room temperature for a little while. Carefully remove the chocolates from the molds, making sure you don't break the shells! They should come out fairly easy.
8. Package them up as you wish—in the picture I used mini-muffin paper cups, but I think used chocolate boxes could be good, too.
Now they're ready to bring a smile upon the face of your favorite boy or girl—just in time for Double Seventh Festival (七夕情人节), aka Chinese Valentine's Day on Wednesday. ;-)
Sichuanese native and Chengdu resident Annie blogs about her adventures in cooking vegetarian meals, adapting recipes from around the world. Recently she has translated some of her favorite posts into English for GoChengdoo readers to enjoy. The original, Chinese-language version of this post can be viewed here. Photo by Annie Chen.