Monday, September 17, 2012

Vegan Chocolate

I know I've posted about vegan cake pops with vegan chocolate but it's my gorgeous friend Sunya's birthday and nothing says Happy Birthday like chocolate and more chocolate. Now it's fair to say, I am a tad of an over achiever when it comes to baking especially when it come to making something for the first time. So with that mind set I decided on white chocolate, mint chocolate, fruit and nut and espresso! And as per usual there are certain things I learnt the hard way. I used my recipe from Gentle World, which I used last time, and the only recipe I could find for white chocolate from Bitter Sweet. Also I apologise in advance for not having photos of the making process; chocolate making is a tad tricky and there was no good time stop and document my chocolaty goodness.

Lets start with the white chocolate; super easy. I followed the instructions word for word and the only thing I can say is sift your sugar and soymilk well, I can’t stress this enough. For some reason the vegan confectionary sugar I bought was lumpy and I thought it would just dissolve in cacao butter but nope the mixture was lumpy and it took me twenty minutes to get it smooth. As the site says the end product is very sweet so I only put in a third of a cup of sugar and that seemed perfect.

 I had bought seashell chocolate moulds earlier on that day not really knowing what exactly I wanted to do with them, I wanted to do something interesting.  After about an hour of staring at them blankly my boyfriend chimes in with “why don’t you marble them like Guylian?” Genius! The white chocolate went on the bottom followed by the dark chocolate and gently swirled with a toothpick. After about six hours they popped out cleanly. Keep in mind that because the main component of the chocolate is butter the chocolate will feel a little greasy so leave it in there for a bit longer if you're unsure.

The fruit and nut was easy enough too. For these chocolates I used the same mini tart tin that I used for my mini lemon tarts. I chopped up almonds and sultanas popped it in the bottom of the pan and poured the chocolate on top.

The mint was a bit tricky. Since I couldn’t find any info about how much to put in and at what point of the making process I was pretty much flying blind. Because the coconut butter has quiet a strong aftertaste I put enough in until the mint overpowered the taste of the coconut butter. I would suggest adding the flavouring when you are thickening the chocolate so when its over cold water because I figure heating it might evaporate some of the flavour but don't quote me on this, just how my logic worked at the time. I did notice that this batch didn’t thicken as quickly which I think is due to the extra mint flavouring.

So I’ve made three batches and they’ve all turned out relatively well and I am feeling a bit overconfident and I think how hard could the espresso be? Well very! I decided to put the two recipes together because I thought the soymilk would complement the espresso well. So this is the recipe that I used:

¼ cup cacao butter
½ cup coconut butter
1 Tsp. cocoa (sifted)

1 Tsp. instant coffee
¼ Cup Confectioner’s Sugar
½ Teaspoon Soymilk Powder

a pinch of sea salt

In theory this looks right, right? Practically it turns out I learnt nothing. I combined all the dry ingredients, melted the cacao butter with the coconut butter and this is where I went wrong. I forgot how hard it was to dissolve the sugar the first time around and the instant coffee followed suite. Silly me I was under the assumption that the coffee would magically dissolve but instead it just floated there looking gross. And it kept getting worse; the chocolate wouldn’t thicken at all and I ended up having to strain the solids out and refrigerating the mixture.
The fruit and nut, mint and espresso were all refrigerated over night. They all came out relatively cleanly (I greased the tins with a little bit of coconut butter) except the mint. To my horror the bottom of the mint didn’t set at all and was still liquid. I suspect it has something to do with the peppermint extract I added. Instead of wasting an entire batch I carefully took off the excess bits that hadn’t set and dusted it with coco powder, so now it’s slightly more like fudge but still good! So here's the mint before and after;

The Fruit and Nut;
And the Espresso Hazelnut;

Because of the nature of the chocolate I individually wrapped the chocolates in foil. For the round ones I cut out round circles about four time larger then the chocolate and folded inwards and as for the shells I put a large sheet of foil in between the two chocolate moulds which helps the foil to indent the shell shapes which makes it easier to wrap.


And then my inner Martha Stewart kicked in. The candy bar labels I found on Wedding Chicks; you can customise to your liking (download and print for free!) and I the labels inspired the entire theme of the present. Then I downloaded these cute place cards templates from the Martha Stewart site and used it as the template for the cutouts for the chocolate bags. I was going for a “fifties milk bar” look!
And the finished product;

The different chocolates had individual bags and then to mixed bag just for fun!


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