Daring Bakers August 2011: Sweet as...

Saturday, August 27, 2011


Who doesn’t love candy? For the longest time, I didn’t realise that the American term “candy bar” actually meant a chocolate bar. To me, candy always meant something sugary, like candy floss (fairy floss), or rock candy. I know chocolate bars are sugary too, but in my mind there was always a distinction, candy was sugar and chocolate was chocolate.

But enough waffling on, I’m talking about candy because it’s Daring Bakers time again, and we were challenged to make candy, and temper chocolate.

The August 2011 Daring Bakers’ Challenge was hosted by Lisa of Parsley, Sage, Desserts and Line Drive and Mandy of What the Fruitcake?!. These two sugar mavens challenged us to make sinfully delicious candies! This was a special challenge for the Daring Bakers because the good folks at chocoley.com offered an amazing prize for the winner of the most creative and delicious candy!

We had to make two candies, the first had to be chocolate of some sort, either a truffle, dipped or not dipped in chocolate, or a cut (square) dipped chocolate/bonbon, or a filled chocolate/bonbon using a chocolate mold. The other candy could be any chocolate or non-chocolate candy we liked.

I wanted to make fudge - the proper, boiled kind, not the condensed milk/ icing sugar version. Since the candy thermometer is still packed in a box somewhere, I had to attempt this based on “ball” stages. You know, soft ball, hard ball, hard crack, etc.

Just fudging it
Of course, I couldn’t just do simple fudge right? No, I had to attempt something involving caramelised white chocolate, pistachios and lemon rind. I’d been hearing a lot about caramelised white chocolate lately and wanted to see what the fuss was about. It wasn’t too hard to make, thanks to this great step-by-step recipe by David Lebovitz, but to be honest, I’m still not entirely sure if it’s something I’d rave about. Sure, it was interesting and had a lovely flavour, but I’ve never really been all that big on white chocolate anyway, so it was hard to get very excited about it.

Caramelised white chocolate

For the fudge, I based my recipe on one found here at The Joy of Baking, using white chocolate and adding the zest of half a lemon at the butter stage. Instead of the cream, I used a mix of sour cream and milk instead. Almost at the end of the stirring stage, I threw in some chopped pistachios. Also, I didn’t have glucose syrup/ corn syrup handy, so I used some honey. Trouble is, I only had leatherwood honey on hand, and it really messed around with the flavours of the fudge. When I gave a piece to MC Junior, I could see the indecision on her face. On one hand, she was loving the sweetness, but she wasn’t loving the lemon rind or strong honey tones. Plus, the fudge was probably slightly undercooked and was just a touch too soft. “Ah, well, fudge fail,” I though.

Slightly too soft

But instead of chucking it out, I thought I might as well experiment to see if I could save it. So I put all the fudge back into a heavy based saucepan and brought it slowly to the boil, and back to the soft ball stage. Then I took it off the heat and added another tablespoon or two of the white chocolate. It worked! The second boiling mellowed out the lemon and honey flavours, and the extra white chocolate boosted the chocolatey flavour. This time, both the MC’s loved it.

Saved from a fudge failure.

If you’re thinking of making fudge, here’s another link I found helpful. The best tip I gleaned was to let the fudge cool a little before beating otherwise it will be grainy. If you don’t have a candy thermometer, to judge whether the fudge has cooled enough, dip the spoon onto the surface of the mixture, if it has formed a bit of a “skin” (so you can see the indent of the spoon), then it’s cool enough.

Now onto the chocolate part of the challenge. Anyone remember my first dismal attempt at making chocolate? Stick around, I’ll show you worse!

After searching in vain to buy a thermometer suitable for chocolate making, I decided to be daring and try without it anyway. This thread at the egulllet forums proved very helpful. After reading and re-reading the thread, I decided to try the “testing using lower lip area” method. Another helpful tip I also learned here is to avoid sharp temperature spikes and drops, and using plastic bowls and rubber spatulas helped (plastic is a poor heat conductor).

First I made some passionfruit ganache by melting 200g milk chocolate and 100ml passionfruit juice (from 6 passionfruit) in a makeshift double boiler set-up. In case you’re wondering, I juiced the passionfruit using a citrus juicer, then sieved the juice and the leftover bits caught in the juicer to extract as much liquid as possible.

Don't you love the colour of passionfruit juice?

This was the easy part, and the ganache tasted absolutely divine! I am definitely going to make this again and use it either as a filling or to ice a cake.

The next part didn’t go as smoothly as I hoped. To cut a long story short, I tried to make ganache filled chocolates, using an ice cube tray as a mould, and also some choc-dipped truffles. They bloomed horrendously! Ugh! Don’t worry, I didn’t throw them out, they are still extremely edible, just not very photogenic.

Portent of disaster

Aaaaarrrrgghhh!!! And I couldn't get them out in one piece. So total fail.

I decided to give it one last try. I think I was heating the chocolate up too much in my first attempt, by giving it too long a go in the microwave. Since I was working with very small amounts of chocolate, I decided to melt the chocolate in 10 to 20 second bursts. This time, I think it was 80% successful. Although it’s not entirely smooth and shiny (if you look closely, you can see very faint streaks), at least there’s no horrible looking white bloom to be seen.

These are called chocolate mendiant, and for a great post about tempering chocolate and making these, have a look at Christina's blog.

Faint streaks but not bloom. There are air bubbles though! Forgot to tap the tray on the counter.

This was probably one of the most challenging challenges I’ve faced so far (second only to the vol-au-vent challenge). So thank you very much Lisa and Mandy for pushing me to attempt tempering again.

Enjoy the rest of the weekend and do check out what the other Daring Bakers have done.

I know these are technically not candy but I promised the MC's I would make them candy apples one day. These were made from caramel, flavoured with a touch of cinnamon and maple syrup and a little bit of butter. The MC's reacted like this:


Lisa said...

Shaz...the minute I saw the mention of caramelized white chocolate, I knew you saw the same DL post I did. I have yet to try it, kind of scared lol However, yur fudge is awesome, and I'm so glad you fixed it after the initial disappointment. Also, I don't care how bloomed those passion fruit ganache filled chocolates are, - send them to me! Your mediantes look amazing, and wow, to the most perfect candy apple I'ever seen! You really went all out, and you did an amazing job! TY so much for taking part in our challenge!

Beth said...

Your candy looks pretty good to me! I am in awe of anyone in the Daring Bakers' club. You try the most amazing things!

Heavenly Housewife said...

Yeah, here in the UK "candy" doesn't refer to chocolate either. Love all the goodies you made. I am intrigued by the apples. I have so many now that my trees are in season, and I'm always looking for new ways to use them up. They look fabulous.
Have a great weekend.
*kisses* HH

Pavithra said...

Looks absolutely yumm :)Well done on the challenge

Janine said...

I think you do a darn good job of salvaging "failures" because the fudge looks good and although the chocolate ain't that pretty, the mediantes look so yummy!

Jen (Tastes of Home) said...

Shaz, your fudge still looks delish! :D I know, it was only until I got to the US that I found out a candy bar also means chocolate hehe

Katie said...

What beautiful candies! I love how you turned that difficult fudge into something beautiful by reboiling it. I probably would have just chucked it out!

Kitchen Butterfly said...

Love, love, love the mendiants - they remind me of florentines! And courageous to attempt fudge - glad you could save it even if it had to be twice-cooked. And the candy apples are giving me an idea.....but I'll wait till I can find my thermometer when our stuff arrives

Rajani said...

The 'apple candy' looks great. I didn't know that you can cook the fudge right back and adjust it.

Lovely candies. Great job on the challenge.

chef_d said...

I love the white chocolate fudge-glad that you saved it! The chocolate mendiants look so delicious...oh and I had problems with my chocolate too. Great job on this month's challenge!

Korena said...

Yum, this all looks delicious. I'm especially intrigued by the caramelized white chocolate. And I love mendiants! So simple, but so elegant, too. Great job on this challenge!

shelley c. said...

Those chocolate mendiants look professional - really great job. I had a lot of trouble tempering chocolate, too, but didn't even wind up with anything half as beautiful as those! And the fudge looks and sounds delicious. Oh, and I love the pictures of the kids enjoying the candy apples!! Wonderful job on the challenge.

Renata said...

OMG! Passion fruit ganache! I'm crazy about passion fruit and never thought that was possible! Thanks for sahring that and all your "lab class"! Great job on the challenge!

Curious Cook said...

OMG that fudge looks divine. Cant wait to try!

MandyM said...

Once you have a chocolate thermometer tempering will be a breeze! But thank you for giving it a go anyway :)
In SA we also have the distinction between chocolate and sweets (candy). The whole candybar thing is a bit odd for me too.
Your fudge sounds AMAZING :D
Thanks for taking part of the challenge.

T. said...

Great job on turning around the fudge. I probably would have just tossed in the towel on it.

Hungry Dog said...

Very impressive! I would never try making candy but I do enjoy eating it now and then. I love the pictures of your little MC's--don't they look like they are in absolute heaven!

grace said...

caramelized white chocolate? i've really dropped the ball on this one--i've heard nothing about it! it sounds amazing, especially to this lover of all things white chocolate. good save, shaz!

Fiona said...

Not only do you know how to make all of these amazing confections, you know how to save them from failure! The mark of a truly great cook.

(I have a sweets thermometer, but it seems it hasn't helped me a bit!)

shaz said...

Thank you all you awesome people :)

Renata said...

Me again, to answer your question: yes, I cook the bananas until they turn into a thick paste. I will blog about it soon with step by step. And oh, yes, that's an excellent way to use up lots of bananas, because you will not increase the sugar or add flour (both with lots of calories) and they will shrink A LOT! But they taste so good!!