October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month.
This is very, very important. And a very personal issue for me, since a close member of my family recently underwent surgery for breast cancer and is now thankfully in remission. It's a very scary thing to have happen, and I know we always think it can't happen to us, but it can. Spread the word. Go get tested. Stay healthy.
In order to commemorate Breast Cancer Awareness Month, last week, I made chocolates to pass out to my female friends. Friends either received individual candies or boxes like this one:
Each box was filled with handmade dark chocolates in two flavors: rose marzipan and raspberry dark chocolate ganache. I hoped that these boxes would help spread both deliciousness, happiness, and awareness! I know it isn't much to do, but I'm a huge believer in microcosmic change. (Highly optimistic for someone as pessimistic as me.)
Rose Marzipan Dark Chocolates
The rose marzipan chocolates were a new experiment for me, and they were inspired by princess cakes, which I had originally intended to make for this occasion. Why princess cakes, you ask? Well--and this is quite a silly confession--because the first person who ever told me of princess cakes said that they reminded his wife of boobs. Yes! I'm sorry! that was so not PG, but now that the association is there, I can't escape it. But, though princess cakes pan out this time, I wanted to take a little inspiration from them, in the form of marzipan.
The near-overly-sweetness of the marzipan here goes so well with the hint of rose and the bitterness of the dark chocolate. I was really, really happy with how they turned out. There is nothing quite as good as a homemade chocolate candy.
I hope you all enjoy the chocolate candy posts this week--rose marzipan today and raspberry-dark chocolate ganache in a few days. Please, please spread the word to everyone you know about Breast Cancer Awareness. Tell your girl friends; donate money; make chocolates; bake cookies; run a marathon; wear a ribbon. Do what you can to help out this very real cause!
Read on for recipe and directions...
Rose Marzipan Dark Chocolates
Makes about 48 chocolates
1 1/4 cups confectioner's sugar
1/2 lb. almond paste
1 1/2 Tbspn corn syrup
1 Tbspn rose flavoring (available at specialty food stores; I got mine at Sur la Table)
1/2 Tbspn water
3-4 drops pink gel food coloring
1. In a food processor, pulse confectioner's sugar until no lumps remain. Add the almond paste in chunks and process until combined.
2. Add the corn syrup. Pulse a few times until the corn syrup is incorporated.
3. In a separate small bowl, combine rose flavoring, water, and food coloring and mix. Add the food coloring mixture into the food processor.
4. Process until the combination starts to come together. Stop right before it forms a big ball.
5. Turn out the marzipan onto a piece of plastic wrap. Wrap tightly and store in an airtight container overnight before use.
1 lb. dark chocolate (I used Gittard, but any good quality dark chocolate will work), split into two half pounds
rose marzipan, recipe above
You will also need plastic chocolate molds. I bought mine at Sur la Table, but they're also available (probably for cheaper, too!) at arts & crafts stores like Micheal's, or online.
1. Chop a 1/2 pound of the dark chocolate and place in a double boiler. Melt this chocolate. Turn off stove.
2. Add the other 1/2 pound WHOLE, without chopping!, to the melted chocolate in the double boiler. Stir until the chocolate is completely melted. This is the easiest way to temper chocolate that I've found. No need to mess with marble pastry boards or thermometers! But, if you have your own method, feel free to temper the chocolate as you wish.
3. Once the chocolate is tempered, make sure to keep it only hot enough to keep it melted. Turn on the stove to simmer the water in the double boiler if heat is needed.
4. Pour a teaspoon of melted chocolate into the molds one at a time. Once the chocolate is poured into one mold, use a paintbrush to spread the chocolate evenly to coat the inside of each mold. Do not pour chocolate into all of the molds first and then spread later--your chocolate will cool! Do this one single mold at a time. As Robert Steinberg and John Scharffenberger say in my favorite chocolate book, The Essence of Chocolate, chocolate work requires huge amounts of patience.
5. Once the molds have been coated, place them in the freezer for about five minutes. Be careful not to leave them in for too long--the goal is only to let the chocolate set.
6. Remove the molds from the freezer. Break off small pieces of rose marzipan--about the size of a small cherry, and roll into a ball. Press the marzipan into the chocolate molds, leaving a tiny bit of space at the top of each mold.
7. Pour melted chocolate into the molds to cover the marzipan. Jiggle each tray a few times, and tap them gently on the counter to allow the melted chocolate to settle and to release any air pockets.
8. Return the molds to the freezer for 30 minutes to an hour. Remove from the freezer and turn out onto a cutting board. If needed, use a round cookie cutter to trim the excess chocolate around the candies.
You should probably store the chocolates in the fridge, but since the chocolate is tempered, they will survive a bit of time outside the fridge as well, as long as it's not too hot outside!