I haven't blogged for a while, but that doesn't mean I haven't been eating chocolate. I haven't really been out on the prowl lately seeking the world's best chocolate, but I have made a few nice discoveries: I was gifted a bar of Chocolove Organic 72% that was really quite lovely; I was also gifted some Burdick's chocolate-dipped orange peel that turned my world upside-down. Never would I have suspected that I would become an orange-peel fan. I've always believed that orange peel and candied ginger are for the "Greatest Generation", i.e. those over 80 years of age. And yet, just yesterday I found myself on a quest for whatever chocolate-covered orange peel I could find. I ended up with a bar of Caffe Tasse Noir Orange from my local chocolate dealer, Chocolate Now, and quite a few pieces of actual candied peel dipped in chocolate. I though those two purchases would hold me over for a few days. I was wrong. They lasted about two hours. I don't know what is wrong with me. Perhaps I have simply grown up and finally developed a taste for the finer things, such as candied orange peel, as opposed to water melon-flavored Bubble Yum. Or perhaps it is a sign from the Big Man Upstairs: here is a fabulous and simple idea for Christmas gifts!
Today, on an impulse, I went on down to my local King Arthur Flour shop ( a little name-dropping) and bought three kinds of chocolate, candied orange peel, candied ginger, and little paper cup liners for my mini-muffin pans. I came straight home, melted the chocolate in a double-boiler, filled the mini-muffin cups 2/3 way full with melted chocolate and then decorated each one with a choice of the following: the candied ginger, orange peel, dried raspberries, dried sour cherries, almonds or pecans. A little sea-salt is another choice. Now all I have to do is fill a few tins, write a nice note, and get down to the post-office to send them out to family and friends in far-away places. I don't often have Martha-Moments, but this was a brilliant one!
My particular project was a little pricey because I bought all of my ingredients at King Arthur, which is not cheap. However, the quality of the chocolate (Guittard and Callebaut chocolate for chefs) is superb. But you can easily make these for half the cost using chocolate chips from the grocery store. They come out looking like little Reeses' peanut-butter cups with pretty things on top. In fact, you can probably make little peanut-butter cups by letting the first layer of chocolate harden and then adding your peanut butter and a second layer of chocolate. You could also make two-tone chocolates: a layer of dark chocolate followed by a layer of milk. Lots of room for creativity here. Imagine the joy of opening a tin of hand-made chocolates instead of sugar cookies with red and green sprinkles! Not that there is anything wrong with those.