It has been less than 3 weeks since I wrapped up the Year of Cake, and I am already restless for another baking project. I learned so much last year and tried a bunch of new techniques (that was the point, after all), and many of them worked well enough. Gum paste, in particular was a great success.
Chocolate, on the other hand, gave me a little bit of trouble. It started with the disastrous Super Bowl cake. The white chocolate frosting I discovered in making it was the only redeeming quality of that one, and I have used it on most of my cakes since then. The chocolate wrap on February’s mocha cheesecake worked perfectly without tempering, but when I thought I could get away without tempering chocolate decorations for the August office party cake, it all fell apart. October’s IronCake was the most ambitious chocolate plan, and my first attempt at tempering. I had some trouble, to say the least.
Clearly chocolate and I have some more work to do.
I don’t know when or why I got it in my head, but I really wanted to try chocolate butterflies. Perfectly tempered chocolate is key to their success, as the delicate wings would collapse without tempering. Other than that, though, it is just tracing.
It was too cold to go anywhere yesterday, and I needed a break from coding dissertation data, so I decided to give it a try.
Rather than try to chop the chocolate by hand this time, I decided to try it in my Baby Bullet blender. It’s very powerful and is much easier to clean than a regular blender or food processor.
Sadly neither the white nor dark chocolates came out particularly well with it.
Close enough. I just made sure none of the remaining chunks after melting made it into the piping bag. (If you missed my brief instructions on what tempering is and how to do it, go here.)
My setup was simple. I printed a few butterfly wing and filigree heart templates (because why not hearts too) from a Google image search and put them under a sheet of wax paper.
I melted and tempered the white chocolate, put it into a Ziploc bag (since I’m low on decorating bags and didn’t feel like making a parchment cone), cut the smallest possible tip off one corner, and started tracing.
Since I had no purpose for these, I was only doing a very small amount of chocolate — 2 oz of white chocolate and like 1.5 oz of dark. If I were making more I would need to find a way to keep the extra warm while I was piping. As it was, the chocolate was starting to harden as I worked. The combination of trying to go fast and also having chocolate all over my hands meant I didn’t get any photos of the process.
I did the wings individually on the wax paper, and then once they hardened I carefully peeled them off and arranged them into the crease of an empty tissue box (which I totally forgot to photograph) and piped the body to hold them together at that angle. You can see a little of the box in the background here.
This one was too delicate when I first made it, and the left wing broke when I transferred it to the box. I repaired it with some more white chocolate, but by that point the remaining chocolate was getting too hard. I revived it by popping it into the microwave for 5 second bursts, but I think that ultimately took it back out of temper. If the finished butterflies had been destined for a cake or for a longer shelf life (or if it had been more than 4 degrees outside), they probably wouldn’t have made it.
The dark chocolate was much easier to work with. It flowed really well, and the final product was much smoother and more even than the white chocolate. Obviously I didn’t think to take a closeup of either of the dark chocolate pieces.
I will definitely have to come up with a springtime event so I can put some of these onto a cake or cupcakes.
Okay, now back to my dissertation data!