There are a few good reasons to enjoy making chocolatey treats. The cold weather keeps us indoors. The school holidays are upon us yet again. And, well, chocolate! We thought it might be a nice idea to make a selection of really simple petit four chocolates.
A petit four (French for 'small oven') is a bite-sized confection, cake or appetiser - as with so many things, it sounds better in French! These were made in under an hour, and are decadent, delicious morsels.
No chocolate molds, marble benches or any special equipment are needed for these chocolates. There's no tempering or fancy techniques. You simply melt, mix, dollop & set!
We sell four types of chocolate drops at Village Wholefoods, and we're using three of them for this selection of petit fours: milk, 55% dark and 70% dark. If you'd like some in-depth info on the different types of chocolate, head on over to this week's Product Spotlight, where it's explained in more detail.
Now, to the Chocolate Petit Fours
First up, we have Coconut Rough with Orange Zest, using the 70% dark chocolate drops. Next is Hazelnut & Lavender Clusters, made with the mellower 55% dark chocolate drops. Finally, we will make Salted Almond Clusters, using our milk chocolate.
Whether you make these gorgeous treats for yourself, for visitors or as a gift, we think you'll enjoy the process as much as the result.
The ingredient ratios & methods are basically the same for all 3 variations.
You'll be melting chocolate, so here's a quick how-to guide on that:
To Melt the Chocolate:
Place chocolate drops in a completely dry microwave-safe bowl. Make sure it's not too small a bowl, as you'll be stirring it frequently then adding other things to it. A cereal bowl, for example, is too small, but anything bigger should suffice.
Microwave in 30 second bursts before removing the bowl and stirring with a dry spatula. It's important not to overheat the chocolate as this can cause seizing as much as rogue moisture can. For 1 cup of chocolate drops it should take no more than 90 seconds all up.
Place a saucepan ⅔ full of water on the stove and turn on to high heat till water boils, then turn heat down to maintain a gentle simmer. Place the chocolate drops in a heat-proof mixing bowl, then place the bowl on top of the saucepan. The water shouldn't touch the bottom of the bowl - remove a little water if necessary. Stir chocolate drops frequently with a completely dry spatula until just melted, remove from heat straight away.
A Trio of Chocolate Petit Fours
Makes approx 12 of each type (36 in total if you're making all 3).
Prep Time: 30 min, Cook Time: 3 mins & 30 mins setting time.
Dark Chocolate & Orange Coconut Rough
1 cup 70% Dark Chocolate Chips
⅔ cup shredded coconut
⅓ cup desiccated coconut
Zest of 1 orange
Line a tray with baking paper.
Melt chocolate using either method described above. Fold the coconut and half of the orange zest into the melted chocolate, then use a dessertspoon to dollop small mounds of the mixture onto the lined tray. Sprinkle the remaining zest over the top.
Leave on the bench to harden if it's a cold day, otherwise put the tray in the fridge for about 30 mins.
Hazelnut & Lavender Clusters
1 cup 55% Dark Chocolate Chips
1 cup raw hazelnuts
2 tsp dried lavender
Toast hazelnuts by popping them into a dry frypan. Over a medium heat, jostle them about in the pan until they just start to turn golden - about 2 mins. Be vigilant - they can quickly go from perfectly golden to burnt.
To crush the hazelnuts, cover a cutting board with a clean tea towel. Turn the toasted nuts out onto the towel, gather the edges of the towel to cover the nuts. Using a rolling pin or bottle, press down firmly as you roll over the towel-covered hazelnuts. You don't have to crush them finely, in fact if some of them remain whole that's fine! Place the crushed hazelnuts in a bowl. A lot of the hazelnut skin will have fallen off from the crushing process, which is a good thing - the less skin you include the better, but again, it doesn't matter too much. Set crushed hazelnuts aside.
Melt chocolate using either method described above. Fold the hazelnuts and 1 tsp of the Lavender into the melted chocolate, then use a dessertspoon to place small mounds of the mixture onto the lined tray.
Sprinkle remaining Lavender on top. Leave on the bench to harden if it's a cold day, otherwise put the tray in the fridge for about 30 mins.
Salted Almond Clusters
1 cup Milk Chocolate Chips
1 cup slivered almonds
1 tsp sea salt flakes
Toast slivered almonds by popping them into a dry frypan. Over a medium heat, jostle them about in the pan until they just start to turn golden - about 2 mins. Be vigilant - they can quickly go from perfectly golden to burnt.
Transfer toasted almond slivers into a bowl and set aside.
Melt chocolate using either method described above. Fold the slivered almonds into the melted chocolate, then use a dessertspoon to place small mounds of the mixture onto the lined tray.
Sprinkle sea salt sparingly on top. Leave on the bench to harden if it's a cold day, otherwise put the tray in the fridge for about 30 mins.
Well sealed, the chocolates will keep in the fridge for up to 6 weeks, or 3 months in the freezer
Pimp My Recipe Honestly, you're only limited by your imagination when it comes to these chocolates. Oh, and science: remember that you can't add liquid to melted chocolate or it will 'seize' - it becomes hard, grainy and dull. Even a drop of vanilla essence or orange juice will cause this to happen (even a tiny drop of water in the bowl you use to melt the chocolate), and there's no fixing it. Stick to dry additions like nuts, dried fruit, tea leaves, cacao nibs, cocoa powder, edible gold dust, cake decorations etc.