Valentine’s Day chocolates have long been famed in anime as the height of a potential romantic relationship. There’s always the question: am I getting the dreaded obligatory chocolate, or the special, hand-made, prized chocolates? In this week’s post, we’re looking at the latter—the truly hand-crafted delights that will impress even the hardest of hearts out there. Hestia is our inspiration here, as she offers up her hand-made chocolates.
Before we truly get into the procedure here, let me just stop you and say this: if you aren’t planning to give your significant other a gift for Valentine’s Day, you need to RETHINK your decision. In anime, and Japan at large, girls traditionally give guys chocolates (obligatory or not), and the guys reciprocate on White Day, a month later. HOWEVER, there’s nothing wrong with breaking tradition! Here in America, at least, I think it’s pretty normal for significant others to exchange gifts on Valentine’s Day, so the following recipe will work for anyone.
The semi-unfortunate thing is that characters in anime tend to make chocolate-making look incredibly easy. And it can be! However, there’s some information you need to know before you get started if you don’t want to accidentally mess up the first time around. We’re making truffles today. There are two kinds of truffles: soft truffles, which are balls of ganache rolled in a dry coating, or hard truffles, that are made up of a shiny, hard chocolate shell filled with a soft ganache or fruit filling. We are making the later variety of truffle today, which are slightly more difficult than the soft truffle variety.
What makes them challenging is that, in order to get your chocolate to harden up and look pretty, you need to keep it in temper. This means that you need to stop the cocoa butter in the chocolate from melting and re-hardening in the wrong chemical structure. In order to do that, you need to prevent the chocolate from getting too hot, and then make sure the cocoa butter reforms in the proper chemical structure. To do this, I melt the chocolate slowly and evenly using the microwave and stir method and then force the cocoa butter to reform properly using the seeding method: the method of throwing chunks of tempered chocolate back into the melted chocolate and stirring them together to encourage proper restructuring. A much better explanation of tempering chocolate can be found here. I strongly suggest you go watch the video!
The fillings I use are pretty simple—just ganache, one that is flavored with strawberry. The freeze-dried strawberries work incredibly well here to bring the flavor; it was by far my favorite ganache filling. The other chocolate ganache is pretty simple and classic but is impossible not to love, just based on those qualifications alone.
Whatever you’re doing this Valentine’s Day—whether it be hanging with friends or going on a date—a hand-made chocolate will not go unappreciated. Stun your friends, family, and loved ones with your fantastic chocolate making skills!
Watch the video below to see the full process.
Ingredients for Hestia’s Chocolates
-4 oz white chocolate chips
-4 oz dark chocolate chips
-1 cup cream, divided
-1/2 cup powdered freeze-dried strawberries
-12 oz dark chocolate, finely chopped
-2 oz dark chocolate squares, whole
-1/4 cup white chocolate chips
-Slivered almonds, chopped
-Paper candy cups
To Make Hestia’s Chocolates
1. Prepare the ganache first. Heat the cream up in the microwave until hot. Divide, and pour into the 4 oz of white and dark chocolate chips. Let both bowls of chips and cream sit, about 10 minutes. Then, stir the cream into the chocolate chips. It will seem like it’s not coming together at first—be patient! It’ll come together. With the white chocolate ganache, stir in the powdered strawberries. Once both ganaches are ready, set aside about 1 hour to firm up.
2. Prepare the chocolate for the molds. Finely chop, and melt in the microwave. Put in for 30 seconds, then stir. 20 seconds, then stir. 10 seconds, then stir, and from there on out, microwave in 10 second bursts before stirring, until it is smooth and totally melted. Use a candy thermometer to determine how hot the chocolate is. When it reaches 97 F or lower, toss in the squares of chocolate you set aside, and stir the melted chocolate around the squares. This is called seeding, and will help the melted chocolate come back into temper so it sets up hard and shiny. When the chocolate reaches 90 F, pull out the chocolate squares, and pour your chocolate into molds.
3. Tap down the chocolate, and then tip it out onto parchment paper. The goal is to make sure the sides of the molds are totally coated. Smooth off the top and the edges, and then let dry upside down. While you wait, prepare your ganache for filling by putting it into piping bags and snipping the tip off.
4. Flip mold back over, and fill each mold. Be careful not to overfill! Re-melt and re-temper chocolate if necessary, and pour over the tops of the candies to create bases for the truffles. Tap down the molds so air bubbles rise to the tops, and then smooth off the tops to create clean edges.
5. Let set completely. Loosen the molds by pulling at the edges to break the air lock around the chocolates, and then turn over and pop out by applying pressure to the center of each mold.
6. To decorate, melt the remaining white chocolate chips by placing them in a piping bag, and letting to sit in a cup of hot water. Massage the white chocolate to promote melting, and then snip off the tip and use to create the different designs (see video for instruction). For the almond chocolate, melt a little dark chocolate and smooth it over the top of the truffles. Sprinkle with the slivered almonds.
I hope you enjoyed this post! Check in next week for another recipe, and to check out more anime food recipes, visit my blog. If you have any questions or comments, leave them below! I recently got a Twitter, so you can follow me at @yumpenguinsnack if you would like, and DEFINITELY feel free to send me food requests! My Tumblr is yumpenguinsnacks.tumblr.com. Find me on Youtube for more video tutorials! Enjoy the food, and if you decide to recreate this dish, show me pics! 😀