Chocolate reformation: repent and be saved ~ Ham Pie Sandwiches

11 April 2007

Chocolate reformation: repent and be saved

Generally we don't really do sweets (or, you know, judgment and flagellation), so this must be regarded as an exception. "You mean a delicious exception!" our friend Ryan says in my head. Ryan was also the one who originally turned the apt phrase, "too fudgetastic." All of these things are applicable to our cooking exploits of last night: candy.

Serious hardcore candymaking often inolves such terrifying things as bubbling molten sugar, potential burst thermometers, and globs of burnt taffy flying every which way from between your buttered fingers. So we weren't hardcore candymakers. Is that such a huge problem? No, it is not, and it's especially not when you're using this:

Yes. Chocolate.

I like chocolate. In this case, we'd gotten a big chunk of bulk Callebaut semisweet chocolate for the specific purpose of melting and dipping. It's the easiest type of candymaking there is: reforming previously made candy, preferably around some sort of delicious fruit. I guess cookies or shortbread could work if you're into that kind of thing, and I know that some of you are. I, however, am into fruit.

I am so into fruit that I went searching through the pantry to see what else I might use on this expedition. Lo, there was a huge jar of Michigan tart cherry preserve with whole cherries! Gracious! What could I possibly do with such a thing? Perhaps I could mix the cherries with some melted chocolate and layer it with regular chocolate, then cut into conveniently sized pieces! When we brought some of these over to the neighbors, they said, "oh my god, is that fudge?" No, it is not. It is possibly better.

Part 1:
Chocolate-dipped fruit


Melt your chocolate over a double boiler on very low heat. Just chop it up, stick it in the top pan, put some water in the bottom pan, and let it sit over the heat while you peel, separate, or chop any fruit you want to use. We used some segments of honey tangerine, seedless purple grapes, and a thinly sliced firm it's-not-summer-yet-don't-try-to-fool-yourself plum.

When the chocolate is clearly soft, give it a couple stirs to see if it's fully melted and distribute the heat. Is it smooth? If yes, you're ready. If not, give it a couple more minutes over the heat, then stir again.

When the chocolate is smooth, it's time. Take each piece of fruit and dip into the melted chocolate. It may take a couple passes to get your preferred amount of chocolate on there, especially if the interior of your fruit is wet (i.e. if you're using plums). Set each piece on a big piece of waxed paper, parchment, or plastic wrap, set over a cookie sheet or other large flat moveable surface. Repeat until all fruit is chocolated up, then stick the entire sheet into the freezer to set. Leave for at least five or ten minutes, then check for solidity. If the chocolate is cold, you're good to go: eat. Keep any leftovers in the refrigerator, in case of melting. Cold chocolate tastes the best to me anyway.

Part 2:
Chocolate cherry bars.

whole cherry preserve, stoned fresh cherries, or dried cherries.

Again, chop chocolate and melt in a double boiler. You see why it is so convenient to do both of these at the same time.

Prepare an appropriately sized pan for the cherry bar goodness. I used a pyrex pie plate with some heavy plastic spread over it, but wax paper or parchment are also clearly good. Try to use something with sides, in case of runny chocolate.

With a spatula, spread a medium-thin layer of plain chocolate over the bottom of the pan. Smooth it out to a relatively even thickness. Then put it in the freezer to set. This needs longer to set than the fruit, largely because the chocolate is all in one big mass; ten or fifteen minutes should do it.

In the meantime, melt some more chocolate (or if you had a whole lot melted already, use that). Add a bunch of cherries and mix it all together. You can use as much as you want; I just got the chocolate full of cherry preserve chunks and stirred to melt the jammy part. When the first layer is set, spread the cherry layer over it and put the pan back in the freezer to set again.

Melt another hunk of chocolate, plain; when the cherry layer is set, spread it over the top and put in the freezer to set again.

After the whole shebang is mostly set, but still soft enough for you to leave a fingerprint, cut up your bars. Otherwise you will end up with a huge, albeit delicious, hockey puck of cherry chocolate. Our bars were maybe an inch and a half square; make yours whatever size you like. Just keep in mind that these things are totally rich, such that you probably don't want to eat too much at once.

Eat. Note awesome chewy interior. Debate as to whether the bars are, in fact, "too fudgetastic." Give some to your neighbors when you realize you can only eat one or two at once.

As these both contain fruit, I'd definitely keep them in the refrigerator, and I wouldn't try to keep them too long. I kind of doubt that will be too much of a problem, however, as they are also delicious chocolate.