• Welcome to the eG Forums, a service of the eGullet Society for Culinary Arts & Letters. The Society is a 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization dedicated to the advancement of the culinary arts. These advertising-free forums are provided free of charge through donations from Society members. Anyone may read the forums, but to post you must create an account.

  • product-image-quickten.png.a40203b506711f7664fc62024e54a584.pngDid you know that these all-volunteer forums are operated by the 501(c)3 not-for-profit Society for Culinary Arts & Letters? This holiday season, consider a tax-deductible Quick Ten Bucks to support the eG Forums and help us remain completely advertising-free. Thanks to all those who have donated so far!

quiet1

Where to get good quality novelty chocolates?

16 posts in this topic

Hopefully this isn't too far off base for eGullet- my housemate's son approached me for my help in getting a Christmas present for his dad. He has his heart set on one of those molded chocolate 'tool' sets, however the only ones I've seen around locally are, frankly, not very good quality chocolate. Does anyone know of any online retailers that might have something that will deliver to the US and will have chocolate that doesn't taste gross? I found some really cool looking stuff but it seems to be all in the U.K. with no US delivery.

 

(This may not be possible, I just thought I'd ask before subjecting the house to a box of chocolate no one wants to eat hanging around for months. :) )

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I've only ever seen tools made with good chocolate when I taught a wedding party how to make their own favours. She bought inexpensive tool molds from the Bulk Barn and we made them out of good chocolate.

 

Here at Tomric - you could purchase the mold, and the packaging and make your own out of the good stuff. Or if tempering chocolate isn't your thing - get someone else to make it for you. 

1 person likes this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

This is a chocolatier located in the US (New Jersey, to be exact), I know they were recommended to me before because they do a wide variety of novelty shapes, perhaps they can tell you what type of chocolate they use? The link below will take you to the page with various chocolate "tools".

http://www.enjouchocolat.com/novelty-chocolates?cat=31&p=3


"Only dull people are brilliant at breakfast" - Oscar Wilde

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

This one's a toughie. How much is your housemate's son willing to spend? If I were in the same situation, I would find a local confectioner or culinary student willing to make the chocolates for me. If you want a high-quality chocolate product here, I think you're looking at a custom job. I would guess that local cooking schools or cooking programs would have job-posting boards. A small chocolate shop where the owner makes the chocolates is another possibility. The specialty chocolate molds and the high-quality chocolate itself will add to the cost of the job.
 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
9 hours ago, Kerry Beal said:

I've only ever seen tools made with good chocolate when I taught a wedding party how to make their own favours. She bought inexpensive tool molds from the Bulk Barn and we made them out of good chocolate.

 

Here at Tomric - you could purchase the mold, and the packaging and make your own out of the good stuff. Or if tempering chocolate isn't your thing - get someone else to make it for you. 

 

I'm thinking we might go this route if kiddo is up for it. I usually watch him after school until his dad gets home from work, so we could probably sneak it in on an afternoon?

 

Any recommendations for a good chocolate we can get in non-huge amounts? I recall seeing a site that had a wide variety of brands you could buy in modest amounts to experiment, but darn if I can find where I bookmarked it now. And recommendations on a brand/chocolate to buy that would be decently tasty would be helpful too. His dad usually prefers imported chocolate (he spent a lot of time visiting Switzerland growing up) so American inexpensive/supermarket brands tend to get a poor reception. (Except Reese's peanut butter cups. :D ) Or there's no reason why we can't use bar chocolate and just melt it down, right? So rather than buying a bag of pieces we could just buy a few chocolate bars we know he likes and use them?

 

I am kind of nervous about tempering - I think we'd use the microwave method or the method where you just add in some already tempered chocolate? I certainly am not messing around with a marble surface, in part because I don't have one. :D

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Supermarkets in Canada pretty much uniformly carry Lindt - they make a perfectly good Swiss milk chocolate. Suspect they wouldn't be too hard to find in the US as well.

 

I've tasted Milkboy recently at a couple of trade shows - it's a nice creamy swiss - but not sure where is it sold retail.

 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
5 minutes ago, Kerry Beal said:

Supermarkets in Canada pretty much uniformly carry Lindt - they make a perfectly good Swiss milk chocolate. Suspect they wouldn't be too hard to find in the US as well.

 

I've tasted Milkboy recently at a couple of trade shows - it's a nice creamy swiss - but not sure where is it sold retail.

 

 

 

Yes, that is the sort of thing I was thinking with using chocolate bars. I'm sure I can get Lindt, and quite possibly something more interesting if I go to the shop that has a range of imported coffee and teas since they usually have some chocolate, too. I might grab some Green & Blacks milk chocolate also - I think it has an interesting flavor for a milk chocolate, a little more of the dark chocolate bitterness than people typically expect.

 

To temper if I was using bars I could just chop the bar up, melt like 80% of it or so, then add back in the rest of the chopped bar while letting it cool to a working temperature, right? The bar should be in temper to start with, I just have to avoid destroying all the crystals.

 

Also, some of the fancier tool chocolates that are available online but only in the U.K. are actually silvery - I have silver (and other color) lustre dust from cake and cookie making experiments, if we brushed some on after popping the chocolate out of the molds would that stick enough to give a sheen to the chocolate, or would it just make a horrible mess? 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Why not melt about 70% - get it up to around 40 C or so. Use the 30% as a chunk - stir occasionally - until it cools down to around 30 or 29 C. Remove the unmelted part of the chunk.

 

Luster dust phoofed on with a plushy makeup brush after removing from the molds is the way to go.

 

 

1 person likes this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I've done little confectionery in my time. Not my thing. But back in the day when I was playing with chocolate, I used Trader Joe's Pound Plus, which was a good quality chocolate for the price. I think it's only dark chocolate, not milk chocolate. I haven't tried it in years, so if anybody else has had more recent experience with this chocolate, pls say if it's still good.

 

I've done tempering with the microwave method and the classic mush method (groan). Microwave was easier for me, but the classic method gives a better temper.

 

I assume you have a good digital thermometer. It's important for tempering chocolate.

 

King Arthur Flour sells chocolate pastilles. I like Vahlrona and Guittard (though I haven't used them recently). Vahlrona chocolate was exceptional the last time I used it, both dark chocolate and milk chocolate. Stay away from Scharffen Berger chocolate. Since SB was taken over by Hershey's, SB chocolate has acquired that weird waxy filler you find in Hershey's chocolate bars.

http://search.kingarthurflour.com/search?p=Q&asug=&deftab=products&w=chocolate

 

good luck. Pls let us know how it goes.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Unfortunately the kiddo is set on buying the ones in the store. So now I'm pondering getting some chocolates to make something else anyway because all the reading about chocolates has me wanting to play with it. :D Maybe not for Christmas, though.

 

Is there a good dark but not super dark chocolate I could use as a starting point? I know everyone has their own preferences but there are so many options even just with Valrhona that I don't know where to begin. (I prefer dark to milk so that is why I am saying dark to start with. :) )

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
2 hours ago, quiet1 said:

Unfortunately the kiddo is set on buying the ones in the store. So now I'm pondering getting some chocolates to make something else anyway because all the reading about chocolates has me wanting to play with it. :D Maybe not for Christmas, though.

 

Is there a good dark but not super dark chocolate I could use as a starting point? I know everyone has their own preferences but there are so many options even just with Valrhona that I don't know where to begin. (I prefer dark to milk so that is why I am saying dark to start with. :) )

For beginning to play with chocolate - I'd suggest the bars mentioned above - the Pound Plus bars from Trader Joes. Great place to start.

1 person likes this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Just now, Kerry Beal said:

For beginning to play with chocolate - I'd suggest the bars mentioned above - the Pound Plus bars from Trader Joes. Great place to start.

 

Thanks. I used to make truffles when I was younger, but just ganache rolled in cocoa or other exterior coating options (red tinted sugar for raspberry flavored, for example.) I quite enjoyed it but when I lived in England I frequently didn't have time or enough people to eat them, so I got out of the habit. As mentioned the current housemates are very much chocolate consumers and they both could stand to put on some weight (they are the type who can eat anything and not gain) so I don't have to feel bad about tempting them, hah!

 

Is there anything smallish that would be useful that I should maybe put on my Christmas wish list? Amazon of course has all kinds of special tools and things but it seems like a lot of people do just fine with a fork, and I have enough kitchen stuff I don't want to ask for specialty tools that won't really help that much.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
4 minutes ago, quiet1 said:

 

Thanks. I used to make truffles when I was younger, but just ganache rolled in cocoa or other exterior coating options (red tinted sugar for raspberry flavored, for example.) I quite enjoyed it but when I lived in England I frequently didn't have time or enough people to eat them, so I got out of the habit. As mentioned the current housemates are very much chocolate consumers and they both could stand to put on some weight (they are the type who can eat anything and not gain) so I don't have to feel bad about tempting them, hah!

 

Is there anything smallish that would be useful that I should maybe put on my Christmas wish list? Amazon of course has all kinds of special tools and things but it seems like a lot of people do just fine with a fork, and I have enough kitchen stuff I don't want to ask for specialty tools that won't really help that much.

A reliable thermometer. 

1 person likes this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, quiet1 said:

Is there anything smallish that would be useful that I should maybe put on my Christmas wish list?

 

A good digital thermometer with a probe you can hang off the side of the bowl. Chocolate mold of some kind if you're going to experiment with tempering. (Unless you're only planning on hand-dipping chocolates?) I always used the clear plastic chocolate molds, not the colored plastic ones. After filling the molds with tempered chocolate, I could see thru the plastic molds to check how the chocolate was doing. The chocolate pulls away from the mold as it cools and sets. That gives you a clue when you can unmold.

 

Homemade chocolate peanut butter cups are better than anything store-bought, but more challenging than making simple chocolate shapes from a mold. There are molds that are a tray of little cups for making peanut butter cups or other filled chocolates.

 

Oh, and make sure you have a good scraper to get the chocolate sludge off your bowls and the kitchen counter. You don't want to waste any of this stuff--chocolate's expensive. The scraped up sludge could be another batch of tempered chocolate on another day.


Edited by djyee100 (log)
1 person likes this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
30 minutes ago, djyee100 said:

 

A good digital thermometer with a probe you can hang off the side of the bowl. Chocolate mold of some kind if you're going to experiment with tempering. (Unless you're only planning on hand-dipping chocolates?) I always used the clear plastic chocolate molds, not the colored plastic ones. After filling the molds with tempered chocolate, I could see thru the plastic molds to check how the chocolate was doing. The chocolate pulls away from the mold as it cools and sets. That gives you a clue when you can unmold.

 

Homemade chocolate peanut butter cups are better than anything store-bought, but more challenging than making simple chocolate shapes from a mold. There are molds that are a tray of little cups for making peanut butter cups or other filled chocolates.

 

Oh, and make sure you have a good scraper to get the chocolate sludge off your bowls and the kitchen counter. You don't want to waste any of this stuff--chocolate's expensive. The scraped up sludge could be another batch of tempered chocolate on another day.

 

 

I'm guessing a good thermometer is critical since you and Kerry both mentioned one. ;) I shall have to find one that is good but not too ridiculous to specify because if I leave my housemate to his own devices who knows what I'd get. (He goes a little silly with gadgetry. I'd end up with a digital one that physically comes to get you if the temp is wrong or something.)

 

I like the peanut butter cup idea, Reese's never last long in our house but the higher quality ones we can get locally have the proportions wrong or something - the flavor combination is off. Either too much chocolate (so it is too thick relative to the peanut butter) or they're using the chocolate they have on hand which isn't the best sweetness to go with the peanut butter mixture they use, maybe? They end up not seeming worth the expense, anyway. But that could be a good thing to experiment with.

 

Do you mean a spatula scraper or a bench scraper, or both?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
36 minutes ago, quiet1 said:

Do you mean a spatula scraper or a bench scraper, or both?

 

I use a spatula scraper for bowls. It works Ok. There are curved bowl scrapers, held in your hand, that work faster. For a bench scraper, I use a straight-edge dough scraper. Works fine.

 

1 person likes this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.