I recently received the book The Elements of Dessertas a birthday gift, and I’ve found it to be a goldmine of inspiration. At first glance I knew the recipes would be aspirational for the home baker. There are formulas and techniques therein that I may never use, (remember my feelings re: molecular gastronomy?) but the desserts are so utterly gorgeous, so playful. It made me seek out answers to new questions (pre-desserts? anhydrous butter? douglas fir milk?) and better, it made me want to reach for something outside my comfort zone.
One thing used throughout the book is chocolate texture spray. Professional pastry chefs use this mix of cocoa butter, chocolate and pigment to create the most beautiful velvety texture on confections. I fell in love. I had to try it, but alas, during my research and forum-stalking I decided that I wasn’t quite ready to commit to buying a paint sprayer and air compressor for the task.
So, I found the next best thing. Velvet texture in a can! It’s so much fun to use, but it is a little pricey – anywhere from $18-$38 per container depending on where you shop. Due to expense, the paint sprayer may be worth the investment. It’s likely in my future because I’m head-over-heels for the aesthetic.
A few things to remember if you try the spray for yourself – 1) The dessert must be frozen before you cover it with the texture. 2) Use a large cardboard box in which to spray your dessert. Turn the box on its side with the open end facing toward you. Place cellophane tape over all holes and crevices in the box. As you can see above, the stuff goes everywhere. 3) A lazy susan will help with 360-degree turning so you can easily spray the entire surface of the dessert(s). 4) Consider covering the floor in front of the box with newspaper. Even though I felt sure my spray was contained, my shoe found a cocoa butter slick just below the box opening.
A little less than half the can was used for two dozen chocolates. A good bit of the texture fell on the plate the chocolates were sitting on (I cautiously sprayed 6 at a time), so next time I think I’ll use it on a larger dessert like cheesecake or mousse cake – something with a little more surface area. That said, these were so much fun to make! The red spray is a nod to the heat inside, and I placed a little “blaze” of gold leaf on top.
Now, as far as chocolate bon-bons are concerned, caramel-filled is my favorite. If you’re a caramel-lover like me, then I urge you to try black pepper caramel (even if it’s just on top of ice cream!). It’s zingy without being too hot or overly spicy. The caramel firms with refrigeration, but at room temperature it becomes soft and will spill out of the chocolate shell when bitten.
You’ll need a mold -like this inexpensive onefrom FreshWare- and a pound of chocolate for the shells. I suggest using milk chocolate for this particular caramel filling. Semi/bittersweet and dark chocolates may mask the subtlety of the black pepper.
(Product sources listed below recipe.)
Black Pepper Caramel-Filled Chocolates
Source: Sprinkle Bakes original recipe
Yield: 24 chocolates, cavity size: 0.4-inch x 1.4-inch, 384 ml
Prep: 3 hours
It may not be absolutely necessary to temper the
chocolate for these bon-bons if using the texture spray, but I really love the
snap tempered chocolate gives when you bite into it. It also yields a thinner shell, which makes
more room for all that glorious caramel. Below you’ll find the tempering method
from the SprinkleBakes book.
1 pound bar or block milk chocolate, finely chopped
Accurate chocolate or instant-read thermometer
Double boiler or a bowl fitted on top of a saucepan
Chocolate mold or silicone candy mold
Electric heating pad (optional)
- Place two-thirds of the chocolate in a metal bowl and place
the bowl over a saucepan of barely simmering water. The water should be gently simmering,
not boiling, and the bottom of the metal bowl should not touch the water. Avoid
getting water into the chocolate as you melt it over the simmering water. One
accidental drop and the chocolate will seize—that is, turn grainy and harden in
a chunky mass.
- Insert a candy or chocolate thermometer into the
chocolate. Carefully fold the chocolate with a rubber spatula to ensure even
heating as it melts.
- Bring the chocolate to 110°F (120°F for semisweet and
dark). Do not let it exceed this temperature, or the chocolate will bloom. When
chocolate blooms, the butterfat rises to the surface as the chocolate
solidifies, creating an unsightly white coating.
- Remove the metal bowl from the simmering water and wipe
the condensation from the bottom of the bowl with a dishtowel.
- Add the remaining chocolate a little at a time. Stir,
waiting until each addition is melted before adding the next. Continue adding
the chocolate, stirring until smooth.
- When the chocolate’s temperature drops to 82°F, return the
metal bowl to the simmering water and bring the temperature to 88°F. This will
only take 5-10 seconds, so move the bowl quickly from the bain marie and fold
well with the rubber spatula before gauging the final temperature.
- Pour chocolate into the cavities in the silicone mold.
Place the mold on a baking sheet and rap on a work surface one or two times to
release trapped air bubbles. Turn mold over and pour excess chocolate back into
the metal bowl. Scrape excess chocolate off the flat surface of the mold with a
large off-set spatula. Allow chocolate shells to set at room temperature. Leftover chocolate can be kept warm with a
heating pad placed under the metal bowl and set to “low”, otherwise, reheating
over the simmering water will be necessary. Be sure to reserve additional
chocolate for closing the caramel-filled shells.
Black pepper caramel
I use this caramel as a filling for chocolates, but it’s also good poured over vanilla ice cream.
1 cup/200g granulated sugar
1/2 cup/ 113g unsalted butter, cubed
1/2 cup/ 111g heavy cream
1 teaspoon/ 5g vanilla extract
1/4-1/2 teaspoon/ 3-5g coarsely ground black pepper
- Melt the sugar over medium-high heat in a large pot. Gently
prod sugar with a wooden spoon as it melts, and cook until it becomes a deep
- Add the butter and stir it in until melted.
- Pour in the heavy cream (the mixture will foam) and whisk
until the mixture becomes a smooth sauce. Note: If lumps form, keep stirring
over gentle heat until they have melted.
- Remove from heat and stir in vanilla extract. Stir in
black pepper. Transfer to a heat-proof glass bowl for cooling. Allow caramel to cool until barely warm but
- Fill chocolate cavities with caramel. Gently reheat
leftover chocolate (over a bain marie as before if you did not use a heating
pad) and pour over filled caramels. Scrape excess chocolate off the surface of
the mold with a large off-set spatula. Allow chocolate to stand until set, or
if using chocolate velvet texture spray, place mold in the freezer. Unmold chocolates and garnish as desired. If
using texture spray, follow directions on the can and see the above blog post
for my spraying method.
- Store caramel-filled chocolates in the refrigerator.
Crescendo Velvet Texture Spray Set (SprinkleBakes tested and approved!)