The Chocolate Life

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How Are You Making These Holidays Special with Chocolate?

It was a frigid 19 degrees F when I woke up this morning, with wind chill down to 5 degrees. Winter is here (though officially still 10 days away), which means we're smack dab in the middle of the ChrismaChanuKwanzakah holiday rush. All of us are busy, I know, so asking you to take a few minutes out to share what you're doing with everyone may sound like a huge imposition.

But giving and sharing are just a part of what the holidays are about and this is one way we can share with hundreds of people all around the world - a holiday shout out in words (and pictures if you have them).

Now, because I started this discussion it's up to me to get it going.

Several years ago I purchased a small wet mill to make chocolate with. I've made many batches but I am always looking for new ways to use the mill because these days I pretty much only use it when I give chocolate-making classes, which is not often enough.

So I've been experimenting with using it to make nut butters and pralines and it was just a small step from there to adding cocoa powder to the nut pastes and start making something that Nutella would dream it might be - if Nutella could dream.

I found a good source for small (4 oz) glass jars in small-ish quantities, so I am bottling my own chocolate/nut butter spread. Without going into exactly how I'm using the four ingredients I am using (a guy has to have some secrets) the ingredients are:

roasted nuts (hazelnuts, almonds, or a mix)
cocoa powder
sugar (I experiment with different kinds)
salt (I experiment with different kinds; kosher is the stand-by)

So - how are YOU sharing chocolate for the holidays this year?

:: Clay

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While I'll make some chocolate treats during the year especially for our annual Christmas party, The Chocolate Cult's biggest holiday event has to be our Annual Halloween Treat Challenge which I hope every chocolatier considers joining. However we are limited in terms of how many chocolatiers we can highlight so I hope people contact us soon.

Our featured reviews for Christmas this year are insane.  I put out our review calendar on November 1st on a few places and contacted a few people who had asked me about winter holidays months back, and in four days 9 of 16 dates were claimed.  Now we are down to 3 dates right before Christmas and 2 before New Years. 

 

We're tackling a wider range of products this year from drinks and food to soap and calendars all using or focused on chocolate.

I love chocolate all year round, but there is just something extra special about chocolate over the holidays. I grew up enjoying a white Christmas with gently falling snow (or a blizzard) and a warm fire in the fireplace. I loved it. There is something about a white Christmas that adds to the spirit of the season for me. One of the things that has really helped me has been to whip up batches of Christmas cookies and Chocolate Christmas Candy. Living so far from my family, I still like to treat them to some chocolate Christmas candy. Unfortunately, my creative efforts would never survive the journey home. Instead, I have found some wonderful online resources that have helped me provide that special homemade candy gift by proxy.
Hi Clay. Christmas Down Under is just an opposite of your climate. As a Hungarian -born, who lived even in Cleveland, OH (!) I have a hard time to fight against heat. So I am making "mini-magnum" type little truffles, coming from the freezer into insulated carry bags. Just experimenting of the "ganaches" - not short of ideas, short of time. From my last year NZ Christmas my printer and I designed a little paper Christmas tree box, holding 2 chocolates - see photo. Also a 3pc clear view box with red stooped strawberry and black pepper truffle, mint and nuts chocolates. Nice with red ribbon.
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I found a great chocolatier out of Illinois of all places to feature on my site. They make the best baby shoes and chocolate pizzas. I intend to send a box of their chocolates to all my friends and family. I love sharing handmade goodness during the holidays - it warms my heart. 

When I got my chocolate gear 3 months ago, I thought it would be a mostly solitary endeavor with the exception of all the happy recipients of free chocolate. But, several of my friends showed quite a bit of enthusiasm in having a chocolate making party and it was awesome.

My next project is going to be the gianduja I was asking for advice on a few months back.

- Lane

We have lots of "ferias" this time of year.  I'm making cake pops in the shape of gingerbread men, and enrobing them in my 75% dark organic chocolate.  Kids and adults alike love these!  Also making ginger spice truffle again, as well as the favorite "holiday special" ,  a bark with cranberries, pecans, and coconut.  Still early, but starting to get in the spirit! 

This holiday season season will be our third. While there is still much to be desired in terms of positive cash flow, production space and equipment, it has been one hell of a multitasking, 16 hour days with no days off for months at a time ride. We have given dozens of free make your own Turkey/Santa/Bunny classes to over a hundred kids. Here is a short "How to make a giant chocolate Santa" video that we have put together while having some fun and also hoping to promote our website.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-WSh7e2SAa4

Well done video.  Your Santas look great.

 

I also saw some clips of snowmen, and was wondering if you ever did them in white chocolate, and then used colored white chocolate for the hats and so forth?  That would look pretty cool too.

 

I have a couple of questions:

1.  how do you know when you have enough chocolate in the mold, and how do you control the amount of chocolate you put in each mold.

2.  How many times do you fill the molds with chocolate to ensure the shell is thick enough?

 

Thanks in advance for your reply.

Brad.

I make snowmen in a bunch of different variations, some  of which can be seen at the website. 

1. Most molds that we use, are spinning molds and we go with a set amount of chocolate that we have determined works for us ( as far as breakage and release times are concerned.)  Our tempering machine has a dosing feature that allows us to choose the amount of chocolate that we would like to have deposited.

2. When using non-spinning molds , we typically fill the molds 2 times. Twice has been sufficient in most cases even when it comes to xtra-large molds such as the one in the video. Ultimately it depends on one's individual packaging considerations and weight requirements. I doubt you would ever need to fill anything more than twice, regardless of viscosity.

Well even though the "How to Make a Giant Santa" was well received, it did little in terms of boosting the online portion of our business. So without having much hope for boosting the internet, but still in the holiday spirit, here is  " How to Make an Easter Bunny and an Easter Surprise Egg" video

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b5dpvTj8qvE

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