I am amazed as to how expensive gourmet chocolates really are. In my travels, I’ve seen various truffles and pralines for as much as three dollars apiece. The streets of Europe are filled with chocolate shops, each featuring their specialty chocolates that stem from years of tradition. I am convinced that these expensive chocolates really do taste better. They are richer and have a far more satisfying taste than supermarket candy bars.
Yet, the prices of these chocolates aren’t all that satisfying (especially if you count the cost of the plane ticket)! Even though I enjoy the taste much better, I don’t enjoy paying the prices. So, I’ve discovered a way to enjoy these chocolates both for myself and for gifts at a fraction of the cost- I make them!
The method is really simpler than you would imagine. All you need is some chocolate. I usually use either chocolate chips (either semi-sweet or milk chocolate) or semi-sweet baking chocolate. I’ve also seen toffee chips, butterscotch chips, and white chocolate chips- all these would work well in your homemade candies.
Then, I gather my favorite “extra” ingredients. I usually use almonds, hazelnuts, or flaked coconut. But, you can also use dried fruit, pecans, walnuts, peanut butter, mint candies, crispy cereal, etc… The method is always the same no matter what you decide on.
First, melt the chocolate in either a microwaveable dish in the microwave (not plastic) or over a double burner. In my microwave, one cup of chocolate chips usually takes about two minutes on high to melt. Since every microwave is different, stay close to it to make sure it doesn’t burn.
Then, after the chocolate melts, remove it from the microwave or turn off the double burner. Stir in 2-3 tablespoons of the “extras” of your choice. Add more if you like your candies extra chunky. Drop the candy onto sheets of waxed paper that are lining a cookie sheet. You can also stir in chopped pieces of dried fruit, or dip whole pieces of dried fruit in the chocolate and place it on the waxed paper. Store it in the refrigerator until it hardens.
For gifts, I package these chocolates in clear bags and top off with a pretty ribbon. You can also place them in a pretty box or tin. I am amazed that I can make a substantial batch of gourmet chocolates for less than two dollars! They taste just as wonderful as store bought gourmet chocolates, and don’t take long to make.
Here is a list of my favorite combinations:
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate, 3 T chopped almonds
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate, 1 T flaked coconut, 1 T chopped almonds
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate, 3 T chopped hazelnuts
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate, 2T raisins, 1 T chopped peanuts
For any of these recipes you can substitute milk chocolate, toffee pieces, butterscotch pieces, or white chocolate. In fact, the ingredient combinations are almost infinite. All it takes is a little imagination and creativity and you will have your own favorite recipes developed in no time. Enjoy!
Katherine Olga Huether
Photo. Polina Tankilevitch