In preparation for the upcoming holidays, Debbie and I had a chocolate making party on Saturday. It was a fun day and a bit of a trip down memory lane for us.
What most of you probably don't know is that Sweet Paprika is not our first business partnership as sisters. When we were teenagers we accidentally started a handmade vegan chocolate making business. I say accidentally because it all started as a fund-raising venture for a Girl Guide/Canada World Youth trip to Costa Rica that Debbie was participating in. But even after we were done fundraising we still had people wanting to buy our chocolates!
So we kept making and selling chocolates for almost a year before realizing that if we wanted to continue we would really need to invest in a chocolate tempering machine (to keep the chocolate at the right temperature while we worked). At 16 and 18 we decided we didn't want to invest that much money or have the responsibility of a business quite yet so we wound up production in December 2002.
Chocolates are fun to make and nice gifts to give so I really wanted to make some this year, especially as my son is now old enough to "help". He really enjoyed coming with me to pick out the molds, helping to put the truffles in the foil cups, and of course tasting the finished chocolates!
Now, the part you're waiting for. As requested, here are a couple of our chocolate recipes. My apologies, I did write down all the ingredients for our recipes back in 2002, but I was a bit sparing in the details! See below for more info on molds and tempering chocolate.
Makes approximately 50 truffles.
Makes A TON. I suggest halving or quartering the recipe if you're planning to make more than one type of filled chocolates.
This one was a new one for us this year. I more or less followed this recipe, painting the cups rather than layering them. Next time I think I would cut the butter down slightly and add a little extra peanut butter, but they are tasty!
You can find basic instructions for tempering chocolate on Epicurious (or google it if you want more technical details).
I left the recipes as the originals I have, calling for cream and butter. We have very successfully substituted soy milk and a high-quality vegan margarine if dairy is not an option for you.
I got cheap plastic chocolate molds at Bulk Barn here in Canada. You can also find lots of options on Amazon or look for your local chocolate supply store (we found our chocolate boxes at Chocolat Chocolat).
When working with chocolate molds, it's important to make sure the molds are clean, completely dry, and shiny. In between batches we shine them up with a clean cotton ball rather than re-washing each time. Shiny molds will make shinier chocolates and they'll be easier to get out of the molds.
We like to use (new!) artist paintbrushes to "paint" the molds. Just make sure that the paintbrush is also completely dry before dipping it into the chocolate. Any water in the tempered chocolate can ruin it for chocolate making purposes.
Lastly, if you can get your hands on chocolate discs or callets it will save a lot of time chopping chocolate. Just please check the ingredients and make sure that it's good quality chocolate. It's just not worth it to make your own chocolates without using a great chocolate to start with!
A few years ago Elizabeth proposed that we make the month of February each year "Finish it February": a time to pull all of our unfinished objects (UFOs in knitter slang) out of the closet or from under the bed and dust them off.
This is the third year we've done this, and I still have quite a number of projects to pull out and deal with each year, but I've noticed that although I still have many very old ones (which I keep swearing I'll finish one day), I've been much better about not accumulating new ones since we started this.