It has become one of Steve’s Christmas traditions to make hampers for some lucky few friends. I made a small contribution (this year I made Delia’s Chicken Liver Pate) but it is mostly Steve’s hard work. He finishes his teaching for the semester and (mostly) finds it calming making delicious treats in the kitchen, of the type that I would find far too fiddly and time consuming.
One of the favourites are mint creams, but it seems that Peppermint Essence is hard to come by in Dubai which led to some good experimenting this year. We had raspberry creams for the hampers, followed by orange creams for my Christmas present. What could be more romantic than chocolate made by your husband?… that he uses his wedding ring as the perfect size cutter (well cleaned first of course).
The basic recipe is based on one from The Crafty Larder, chosen because it doesn’t use raw egg white. Here, in his own words, is Steve’s method for making chocolate creams.
- 1/2 tsp flavouring (peppermint, raspberry, orange, etc.)
- 2 tsp liquid glucose
- 4 tsp water
- 250g icing sugar
- 100g 75% dark chocolate
Note that the quantity of water/flavouring may vary slightly and it may take a couple of attempts to perfect. If the mixture comes out too wet then add more icing sugar, if it is too dry then add a very small amount of water at a time.
1. In a bowl, mix the first three ingredients (plus food colouring if desired).
2. Add the icing sugar and then thoroughly mix together to form a smooth workable dough, if the dough crumbles add water, if it is too sticky add some icing sugar.
3. On a glass board sprinkle some icing sugar and then roll out the dough to a thickness of roughly 5 mm. During rolling sprinkle icing sugar to the surface regularly. You can place a sheet of baking/greaseproof paper on top to prevent sticking to the rolling pin. I however found this unnecessary. If the dough cracks during rolling then sprinkle more icing sugar.
4. Using a cutter (my wedding ring is just the right size, cleaned of course) cut the dough into small rounds and place them onto a surface which is sprinkled with icing sugar. Leave them to dry for half an hour.
5. Place a piece of greaseproof paper onto a tray that you can place into the fridge, flip the creams onto the greaseproof paper, then place them into the fridge overnight to continue drying.
6. The next day melt the chocolate and dip the mints. I use a fork for this which produces an even coat, with relatively thin chocolate. I slide the chocolates on the fork slowly on their side, and then flip them such that the side that touched the fork is upwards. Depending on the temperature and consistency of the chocolate this will produce a texture to the chocolate surface. Place the coated chocolates back onto the greaseproof paper. During this stage you may add food glitter or an identifier of some form to the surface if you are making multiple flavours of chocolate creams.
7. Place the chocolates back into the fridge to set. Once set they are done.
Using my wedding ring I make approximately 100 chocolate creams from this recipe.
It is then Kitty’s job to package them for the hampers, usually in greaseproof paper parcels tied with ribbon and a pretty label.