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Author Notes: Make “Rock On Chocolates” for someone you love battling Breast Cancer in honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month.
Cancer treatment can play havoc with your sense of taste. I remember when I was going through chemo water tasted off, crackers tasted like dirt, and salt was the only spice I enjoyed. But chocolate, well chocolate always tasted good. The beauty of custom chocolates is you can use ingredients that taste good at that moment in time.
“Rock On Chocolates” are a variation of what the French call “Rochers,” meaning rocks. This version has you mixing and matching dark chocolate, nuts, and dried fruit for a crunchy dose of chocolate therapy that is customized to meet the taste sensibilities of a loved one battling Breast Cancer.
When I was naming this recipe, the temptation to play off the word "rock" was oh so tempting: such as, when you have cancer you feel like you're between "a rock and a hard place" or breast cancer makes you feel like you're "on the rocks." But being a firm believer in looking at life through a positive lens, I preferred the more upbeat play on words. Beating cancer "rocks your world" or "rock and roll" through your cancer treatment. In the end I settled on "Rock on Chocolates" because a piece of customized yummy chocolate gives you a much needed feel-good respite to keep you rocking on. —RobbinW
Makes: 15 pieces
Tempering Chocolate in 7 Easy Steps
pound Good quality dark chocolate
- Tempering chocolate is a process of heating, cooling, and stirring chocolate. The heating melts the chocolate and breaks down its crystal structure. The cooling and stirring makes sure that the right crystals (the beta crystals) become dominant so that your chocolate for this recipe will harden and remain hard, have a nice shine, and will not develop gray streaks when left out at room temperature. There are specific temperature marks you need to work within. You want to melt the dark chocolate at 100? – 115?. Then you want to cool the dark chocolate to 88? – 91?.
- STEP 1 - Break the chocolate into small pieces and place 3/4 of the chocolate into a microwave safe plastic bowl. Place the remaining 1/4 of the chocolate aside in a separate bowl.
- STEP 2 - Heat the chocolate for 1 minute.
- STEP 3 - Remove the chocolate and stir. You will notice that when you first remove the chocolate from the microwave it retains its shape. Once you start stirring you will discover that the chocolate has indeed started to melt.
- STEP 4 - If the chocolate is not completely melted, return the chocolate to the microwave and heat for 20 seconds. Remove and stir. Once all the chocolate is melted, take the temperature of the chocolate. It should be somewhere around 100? – 115?. Don’t be alarmed if it is a bit higher or lower.
- STEP 5 - You are now going to cool the chocolate. To do this you will add the small bowl of chocolate pieces you put aside to the melted chocolate in three batches. This is called “seeding.” After you add each batch stir the chocolate until all the chocolate is melted. Be patient. The chocolate will melt if you continue stirring the chocolate.
- STEP 6 - After you add each batch, take the temperature of the chocolate. The chocolate is ready when it is between 88? – 91?. Because chocolate is impacted by ambient room temperature, your chocolate can cool faster one day than another. Some days you will need to add all four batches to cool the chocolate. Other times the chocolate will be cool by the second or third batch of seeding. If it is a really warm day, the chocolate may not be cool enough even after you add the fourth batch. If this should happen, place the bowl of chocolate in the refrigerator for 3 minutes. After 3 minutes remove the bowl and stir. Then take the temperature again. Repeat this process until the temperature is down to between 88? – 91?.
Making the Rock On Chocolates
ounces Almonds or walnut pieces. Almonds are high in fiber, vitamin E (a powerful antioxidant), calcium, magnesium and selenium. Walnuts have the most antioxidants of all nuts and are a good source of omega-3 fatty acids.
ounces ried fruit - Dried cranberries, dried candied ginger, dried orange or lemon. (When I was going through chemo I found that citrus fruits tasted the best to me. The stronger the flavor the better.)
- Now that the chocolate is tempered you are ready to make the chocolates. Pour the nuts and dried fruit into the bowl of tempered chocolate. Mix with a spoon.
- Spoon small amounts of the mixture onto a tray or cookie sheet covered in baking paper. You should have enough to make 15 rocks.
- Place the tray of chocolate in the refrigerator for 30 minutes. You can leave the chocolate in the refrigerator for up to 24 hours.
- AVOID ODORS IN THE REFRIGERATOR: Chocolate is notorious for absorbing odors. Make sure your refrigerator is odor free before you use it to cool your chocolate. You don’t want your chocolate to smell like last night’s dinner.
- SHELF LIFE: Your chocolates should stay good for 2 months. However good chocolate does best when stored in a cool and dry place. Extreme variations in temperature will cause gray streaks to form.