The recipes to pick from are getting fewer and fewer and looking through them I realise that there are quite a few that are difficult or fiddly to do and believe me there are quite a few! Remembering years ago at work at a training session one of the things that we were told was to face the difficult things in your day first, by accomplishing that, your day would get easier. I think if I had tackled all the difficult recipes first from this book, I would have given up! I don’t think I would have been able to accomplish a lot of the harder recipes 18 months ago, but now I have no fear – if they turn out well, then great, if they don’t then never mind, I’ll just have to give them another go.
This recipe wasn’t that hard really it was more fiddly and reading through the recipe it was going to be more time-consuming than anything else.. Luckily I had quite a bit of work to do, so I thought I could do the stages in between my other work.
No need for the oven today!
A good friend had recently visited Auberge du Chocolat for a tasting session and had brought me back some lovely plain chocolate for baking. Hence the reason I decided upon making these today.
The first thing to do is to make the chocolate casings. Luckily I have a cake tin for petits fours sized cakes, so into this I popped 24 cases. Into a bowl I broke up 175g plain chocolate and to this added 1tsp sunflower oil. I didn’t have any sunflower oil in the house, so had to quickly pop up the shop for some. All they had was a huge bottle, so I had to buy it – I did wonder about putting some rapeseed oil into the chocolate instead, but didn’t want to ruin it, so I had to go for the large bottle. I can see a carrot cake or two being baked in the next few weeks in order to use it up! The bowl was put over a pan of hot water and stirred occasionally until all the chocolate had melted.
That was the easy part. The next part I knew was going to be fiddly. The chocolate mixture was allowed to cool slightly and then using a small brush the inside of the cases were painted with chocolate. I found if you put a blob in the bottom of the case it was easier to use the brush to paint the chocolate up the sides. Mary does say you can use your fingertip if you like rather than a brush – I didn’t think this would be a good idea, I think I’d end up licking my fingers all the time and eating it all! After a few I soon got the hang of it, but I must admit it was back-breaking standing over the cake tin painting the tiny cases. These were left to set for half an hour whilst I got on with some work.
The cases then had to have a second coating of chocolate. I did have to put the chocolate mixture into the microwave for a few seconds just to warm it up a bit because as soon as it hit the brush it seemed to set, which wasn’t very satisfactory! The second coat went on a lot easier than the first coat as the cases were slightly stiffer. Again these were left to set. I did, however seem to have rather a lot of chocolate left over. I honestly think I could have filled each of the cases up with the amount of chocolate I had left. As I hate waste, I quickly found my ‘spoon’ moulds that I had bought from Lakeland and as yet had never used. The leftover chocolate was poured into these and left to set!
It was after our evening meal and when I had finished all my ‘paid’ work that I decided to make the ganache for the cases. Into a saucepan I poured 150ml double cream. This was brought to the boil and then removed from the heat. To the cream I added 100g plain chocolate (Mary suggests adding a little rum or brandy, but I couldn’t find any in the cupboard under the stairs. The mixture was stirred until the chocolate had melted.
Once it had melted, the pan was returned to the heat and the mixture brought to the boil. It was then taken off the heat and left to cool.
Whilst the mixture was cooling I thought I’d remove the chocolate from the cases. The first two were a disaster, they just fell apart. I think it was because the kitchen was still quite warm after cooking the evening meal and the cases were begining to melt. I popped the cases into the fridge for about half and hour and after this time they came off quite easily. I found that it was easier if you made a tear in the case and peeled it off around the case, rather than from top to bottom if that makes sense! I think in total I ruined 5 cases, but managed to put a couple of them back together by melting some of the broken chocolate and repairing the cases. In all I think I managed to make 20 out of the 24 it should make.
By now the ganache had cooled and I was surprised to see that it looked as though it had started to separate. A quick beat with a wooden spoon soon brought the mixture back together. A quick taste to make sure it was still ok – it was, phew. The mixture was spooned into a piping bag which I had fitted with a medium-sized star nozzle and rosettes were piped into each case. After doing this I read that now was the time to remove them from their cases. Whoops, although I think it was definitely easier to remove them before them were filled as you could put your fingers inside the chocolate cases. I don’t think the outcome would have been any different, I still think a few would have broken.
The finishing touch was to decorate the top of each petit four with a small piece of pistachio nut or a touch of gold leaf – I had neither in the cupboard. I did sprinkle a few with hazelnuts, but I actually thought they looked prettier without anything on the top.
It was time for tasting. They were very nice, but in all honesty a little sickly. I managed to eat just one, my husband and daughter both ate a couple and my son, well it was plain chocolate so he turned his nose up!!
I’m glad I made them and I’ll now look at another ‘difficult’ recipe to do in the next few days…