16 Feb

When I posited the question of Valentines to my girlfriend and she responded with a shrug and asking “are we really doing anything for that?” How can you not be happy?

For this alone she deserved a gift. Since I had time on my hands I figured that just buying chocolates and flowers was a little trite so I decided why not make some chocolates. I have never tried before but my recent experiment with the ganache chocolate pots gave me the confidence to think that I could pull off some simple truffles and while thinking of what else I could do I was struck by the idea of turning the seasonal citrus bounty into candied peel.

So here goes, Meyer lemons, Blood oranges, lots of sugar and a first attempt at tempering chocolate………

First up the ganache.

  1. bring water to boil and place bowl over the top not in contact with water
  2. add 200g chopped Valrhona chocolate and 300ml cream
  3. add pinch of seal salt and stir gently
  4. once the chocolate had begun to melt you can remove from heat and continue stirring until melted and combined
  5. refrigerate overnight
  6. using a melon baller or spoon, scoop out small balls of ganache and roll in cocoa powder
  7. refrigerate or freeze in an air tight container for up to 8 weeks

Something wasn’t quite right here, (I should say that I free styled and did not stick to the above recipe) I think I may have used too much cream in relation to chocolate, otherwise it is just that I did not use Valrhona and nothing quite compares….All this said still very tasty….Next is the slow process to candid peel.

  1. slice into the skin trying not to pierce the fruit
  2. pull back the peel and remove from the fruit
  3. with the back of a knife scrape as much of the white pith from the peel as possible
  4. place the cleaned peel in cold water and bring to the boil
  5. repeat this process twice
  6. add 2 cups of sugar to 4 cups of water and bring to a boil stirring the sugar into the solution
  7. reduce heat, add the peel and simmer until the liquid has reduced to a quarter of the starting level (approx 1.5hrs)
  8. allow mixture to cool and then remove the peel wiping off excess syrup
  9. dredge peel in sugar to coat and allow to dry on racks for at least 1 hour
  10. They maybe stored in an airtight container for up to 3 weeks

Next up is the tempering, this is essentially carefully heating the chocolate, cooling it and then reheating again all in effort to get stable glossy chocolate.

  1. chop 350g of chocolate and place in a bowl above a pan of bowling water
  2. using a kitchen thermometer heat the chocolate up to no more than 115 F (from my experience remove from heat at about 110 and stir gently using a plastic spatula it should continue to rise up to 115, if not replace on the heat for 5 seconds and continue stirring)
  3. Add 150g of chocolate to the mix and stir to bring the temperature back down to 84 F. If you reach this temp and there is still unmelted chocolate remove and save for another use.
  4. return to the heat and again stirring gently take the chocolate up to 88 F and no higher than 89 F
  5. Your chocolate should be tempered. Do a spot check by smearing a small amount on some parchment paper and allow to cool. It should be shiny and crack when snapped
  6. once you are happy the chocolate has been tempered dip/roll your ingredients ensuring that the chocolate stays between 84-89 F

My first attempt at tempering chocolate was not a total success although it seemed to work to some extent. My tempered chocolate began to streak on the candied peel but did maintain a satisfactory snap upon eating…..My experience taught me that the more chocolate you use the easier it is to control, and to remove the chocolate from the heat well before you get close the desired temperature as it will continue to rise without the heat source.

The important thing was that my girlfriend was very grateful for all the effort I had gone too, and I was very grateful for not being in a cheesy restaurant struggling to make romantic conversation for the sake of the Greeting Cards Industry!!!!


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