Perfect Christmas Chocolates

Is it October and you already in a panic over what to get your loved ones for Christmas? Are you looking for a way of showing them you love them that doesnt involve the usual last-minute manic Christmas shopping spree? This year Im not going to employ my usual tactic of throwing a lot of money at something shiny and plastic that no-one really wants but obviously cost a lot of money.

Instead Ive decided to give them something Ive taken the time to make. Something unexpected. Something that everyone loves. Something people rarely do. This year Im going to make my friends and family chocolate.
If you are surprised that you havent come up with this genius idea yourself and want to join me, and learn about the process of making chocolate, follow my recipe:

NB - Be sure to allow four months preparation
1) Fly to South America, the home of chocolate, and find a Cocoa bean tree.
2) Pick yourself some ripe cocoa fruits. Youll know theyre ripe because theyll be orangey-red in colour and about the size of a small pineapple.
3) Hack open the fruit and you will find the cocoa beans. Scoop these out and ferment for about a week.

4) Once fermented dry in the beans in the sun for a few days and ship them to your kitchen at home.
5) Visit the ancient city of Machu Picchu in Peru, trek through the Amazon rainforest and spend a few days making merry at the Rio Carnival in Brazil before flying home.
6) As soon as you have sobered up, rub in some after sun and unpack the cocoa beans that mysteriously made it through British custom checks without hindrance.

7) Consider taking up a career as a high end drug smuggler for a Columbian drug cartel.
8) Sober up.
9) Roast the Cocoa beans. You are unlikely to own a specialist roasting machine so try sticking them in the oven for 2 hours at gas mark 5.
10) Once roasted winnow the beans. This involves removing the meat or nib of the cocoa bean from the outer shell. For this Id recommend using a small pen-knife and a lot of patience.

11) Grind the winnowed beans. This will form viscous liquid called chocolate liquor. Which is nothing to do with alcohol - its just what Chocolateers call it. This liquid is the pure form of chocolate and is the base for all types of chocolate. Baking chocolate, Cocoa powder, semisweet chocolate, milk chocolate and white chocolate can all be made from this base.

12) You will probably need to press this liquor in an industrial food press which will separate cocoa butter from the chocolate liquor and leave a solid disc of cocoa that can be broken down into cocoa powder. If you dont have an industrial food press you could try using a trouser press although personally Id not recommend it.

The next bit is slightly trickier.

13) Chocolate recipes are heavily guarded secrets. Remember how Willy Wonka was forced to expel his entire human workforce in favour of the Oompa Loompas? Well that was because people were stealing his recipes.

Unfortunately if you want a chocolate bar to taste exactly the same as Cadburys dairy milk you will have to don a balaclava, climb the fence on the north side of the Bourneville factory, disarm the security system, pick the lock on the door of the office marked Secret no entry, look in the third drawer of the filing cabinet and open up the file marked secret recipe for dairy milk.

Once you have procured this information return home and begin adding the ingredients to your pure chocolate.
14) Take time to add the perfect blend of cocoa butter, sugar, milk and secret ingredients to your cocoa powder base.

15) You will then have to knead the mixture for two to six days. This process is called conching and will help blend the ingredients. It is essential for making the chocolate smooth and if done well it will prevent your chocolate from having that nasty white residue that occurs when you leave a mars bar on the dashboard of your car in summer and then stick it in the fridge before eating it.

16) Taste the chocolate. Ideally this requires the services of a highly experienced chocolate master who will be able to pick out the subtle flavour changes and suggest the addition of certain ingredients to ensure the end product meets the high standards your loved ones demand. Id say that if by this point your chocolate is edible you should congratulate yourself for an admirable first effort.

17) Once happy with the taste and consistency of your chocolate you will have to administer a carefully regulated programme of tempering. This involves carefully heating and cooling the chocolate. To temper the chocolate you will need a cooking thermometer, a heat-proof bowl and saucepan of hot water.

Place the chocolate mixture in a bowl over a saucepan of hot, not boiling, water. Place the thermometer into the chocolate and heat until it reaches 43C/110F. Take off the heat and cool to 35C/95F. You are now ready to cool your chocolate.

18) Pour mixture into your carefully designed mould, place in the fridge and wait for it to cool.
19) Wrap carefully with cellophane and decorate accordingly.
20) Present the finished article to your ecstatic loved one on Christmas morning. NB be sure not to leave under the tree overnight - you will be very upset if the dog gets to it first.

Users Reading this article are also interested in:
Top Searches on Chocolate Guide:
Recipe For Christmas Liquor Chocolates
About The Author, Shaun Parker
Shaun Parker is an adept xmas gift provider who enlightens us to the appeal of xmas homemade chocolates. for more information on christmas chocolates gifts view