It’s Monday again! That means four days until my orientation for Le Cordon Bleu. We had registration and uniform fitting on Friday which was wonderful. I was reasonably good at tying my cravat (the neckband we wear to catch perspiration and to regulate our body temp when going in and out of the walking freezer and fridge) so that eased my nerves.
I have a great deal of anxiety towards starting school. What better way to lessen my anticipation than to hustle in the kitchen, so on Saturday I decided to try my hand at the art of chocolate making!
Of course every woman loves chocolate but I have an exceptional love affair for the delicate bean that is Cocoa. One of my favorite movies is Chocolat with Carrie-Anne Moss and Johnny Depp and when I was in high school I worked at a family owned confectionery. I never made candies in the factory at Saykllys Confectionery (http://saykllys.com/) but I handled my fair share of delectable chocolates to know that no matter how old, young, wealthy or poor we may be, we all appreciate fine chocolate, especially when it’s a Saykllys chocolate fountain with treats to dip! The most popular chocolate we sold was the Pecan Snappie aka Turtles so I figured, why not go for it.
Yield: 50 Pieces
Notes: Candy Thermometer needed: I have a Digital Oil & Candy Probe Thermometer from William Sonoma (http://www.williams-sonoma.com/products/digital-oil-and-candy-thermometer/) to ensure accuracy because just 5 degrees makes a difference in the sugar stage; in example soft caramel vs brittle. I always use a digital scale to ensure consistency and I sift all of my dry granulated ingredients. It is best to work with chocolate in room temperature between 66F and 70F and humidity below 50%.
1/2 Vanilla Bean
7oz Sweetened Condensed Milk
6oz Light Corn Syrup
3oz Unsalted Butter, soft
1/2 tsp Salt
Have a bowl of ice water set aside
Join the Water, Sugar, Vanilla Bean (Split with seeds scraped and discarded), Condensed Milk, Corn Syrup and Butter in a 4 quart saucepan (the sugar bubbles and foams so 4 quart or larger). Bring to a Boil, stir continually until temp reaches 240F(silicone spatula is best for high temps)
- Drop a spoon with a sample of the caramel into the ice water for several seconds to cool, take caramel between your fingers and you should be able to form a malleable ball. This is a stage of sugar called soft ball.
- Let the caramel rise to 245F while stirring almost throughout then remove from heat and stir in the salt. and remove the vanilla pods with tongs. (Remember how hot the caramel is, you will burn your mouth if you try it straight from the pan. Also keep your pan handles inward because it is easy to accidentally knock it off of the stove top onto yourself, especially with small children grabbing everything.)
- When the caramel is cooled to 150F it is ready to be spooned onto the body of the turtle.
|Caramel Stages: Top L 70F, Top R 200F, Bottom L 230F, Bottom R 245F|
|Caramel at 233F thickening as it cools.|
5oz Fine Dark Chocolate
Chop chocolate into small pieces (for melting evenly at a low heat) and set aside 1oz. (I prefer Lindt 70% Cocoa because I read that when dipping with dark chocolate you should find an ingredient with at least 60% cocoa and 35% cocoa butter.)
In a double boiler (or a saucepan and a heat proof bowl that doesn’t dip down to close to the heating water will work) heat an inch or two of water. In the dry pan on top heat the 4oz of chocolate. If the water starts to produce steam turn down the temperature to avoid risking moisture exposure to the chocolate. Stir chocolate continuously and remove from heat once the chocolate is at 120F.
- Add the remaining 1oz of chopped chocolate and stir about 10 minutes until the temperature is 85F. To see if your chocolate has set dip a spoon in to coat it and set it undisturbed at room temperature for about 8 minutes. If the chocolate is dry and free of streaks or spots pat yourself on the back because you have just achieved greatness in the form of chocolate.
- Warm the chocolate up on the double boiler to 89F for proper dipping.
Assembling the Turtles
- Place five (traditionally) Pecan halves or Cashews in the shape of a star.
- Spoon on the 150F Caramel in tablespoon portions onto the middle of the nuts, this is the bonding agent and filler of the turtles “body”. Allow turtles to cool completely.
- Spoon or use a piping bag over the tops of the cooled caramel. If you prefer more chocolate to caramel/nut ratio dip them completely, this will also preserve them a few days longer.
- Once the chocolate has completely set store the Turtles in an airtight container for up to two weeks.