Monday, August 10, 2009

Chocolate Almond Spice Drops

Part III from the "Cleaning out the cupboards so we can move to Italy" series

If this recipe starts out sounding a lot like one of my previous chocolates (see Pomegranate Chocolates), that's because it is. After using up the pomegranate jelly, I had an excess of nicely melted orange cardamom chocolate to experiment with (this is one of the better problems to have, I've discovered... in a related note, I'm not looking forward to my dentist appointment next week...). I decided to combine this base with one of my favorite savory spice combos (cinnamon, clove and nutmeg) and see where that took me.

I prefer a slightly bitter chocolate when making my own candies (bittersweet 60 - 70%). Callebaut has been my medium of choice because a) I can consume it in solid form by the handful (and I do, see dentist note above), b) it melts nicely, c) it sets up firm, yet will melt in your mouth after a couple seconds and d) it is relatively cheap for a culinary grade chocolate. Again, and I apologize if this sounds snobbish, but I have tried some of the standard grocery-grade chips (Ghiradelli, Hershey's, generic, etc.) and they simply do not make good candies - most likely due to the higher levels of preservatives and wax.

Callebaut bittersweet (60%) runs $5 per pound (sold in two pound bags, chip form) at one of the local restaurant supply warehouses here in Culver City so you're not going to break the bank making birthday candy for ... (me? please?). To get an idea as to how much candy two pounds of chocolate chips equates to, it's approximately 20 times more than you would ever want to consume in a single day. And that's if you're me, which very few people out there are.

Anyway, here's what you came for.

  • 8 green cardamom pods
  • 4 cloves
  • 1/8 t. cinnamon, freshly ground
  • 1/16 t. nutmeg, freshly ground
  • Pinch of brown sugar, optional
  • 3/4 lb. bittersweet chocolate chips
  • 1 orange, zest only
  • Almonds, whole

  1. In a mortar and pestle (or spice grinder) grind the cardamom and cloves into a fine powder
  2. Mix in the cinnamon, nutmeg and brown sugar
  3. In a double boiler, gently melt 3/4 of the chocolate, orange zest and spice mixture until smooth and creamy
  4. Remove from heat and add the reserved chocolate, folding with a spatula until melted through
  5. Before the chocolate sets up, lay out a sheet of wax paper over a cookie sheet
  6. Using a spoon, spread out small oval-shaped portions of chocolate (just larger than a single almond) until all the chocolate has been used
  7. Gently press a single almond into each chocolate drop
  8. Let the chocolate cool and set. You may want to place the cookie sheet in the refrigerator to expedite the process if you are working in a warm and/or humid environment
  9. I prefer to individually wrap each piece just in case they are left out and start to melt - plus it just looks cool to have a bowl full of home-made hand-wrapped candies sitting out

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