Thursday, March 21, 2013

Making Chocolate At Home

The folks that make Glee Gum sent me an interesting package.  It contained a lot of Glee gum, and a Make your own chocolate kit.  I'm very well versed in the general concept of making chocolate, but frankly I've never actually made the stuff myself.  I think that's because the ingredients, some of them at least, are pretty difficult to find.
You really can't walk into any store and pick up chocolate crystals or even cocoa butter in raw form.  Then, even if you do manage to find all of these ingredients, the measurements and some of the processes can be complicated.  That's why I like this kit, they give you the basic ingredients, but in a simplified form (everything is ground up and read to use).  This is the perfect kit for someone that wants to understand the process, without having an extreme amount of work and commitment   It's also pretty good for kids, although the amount of detailed work might bore/frustrate some kids.
The kit has two methods to make it, microwave and double boiler.  I did the double boiler technique and I would think, considering the way chocolate is made, that this method is probably the better way to go about it.  From what I know about chocolate, regular stirring is the key to a good chocolate, so the microwave method doesn't seem to allow for this.  I would imagine that the microwave technique might cause some lumps and/or burning.
As I mentioned above stirring is really the name of the game when it comes to making chocolate.  The instructions even say "You really can't stir too much!".  This is the primary reason I don't think some kids would have fun making chocolate. There's a lot of stirring involved, and a lot of precise timing needed.  If I'm any kind of gauge (I'm kind of lazy with a low attention span) then I could easily see kids losing interest and the parents having to finish this without them.
Having said all of that, for someone really interested in chocolate, and even for some chocolate snobs, this would be a really worthwhile experience.  It allows you to have a better understanding of chocolate (for example how much is actually sugar, hint, it's a lot), yet it's simple enough that you don't have to invest in machinery or spend the whole day making these chocolates.
Besides stirring  you really have to pay attention to heat.  Having made chocolates in the past using the melting chocolate wafers method, I understand that to get the right consistency you have to know how to temper properly.  Fortunately this kit makes it fairly easy, but you do have to be patient and you have to rely on the instructions.
When all was said and done, I was really happy with my results.  It seems like the magic chocolate crystals didn't blend as well as I'd hoped, even though I stirred and crushed as the instructions instructed.  But I still ended up with some nice tasty little chocolates.  They were a little gritty for my liking, but very tasty indeed.
It also left my entire house smelling wonderful.  So I managed to really get an idea about what it takes to make chocolate from scratch, and I ended up with a few tasty morsels of chocolate.


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