Saturday, August 27, 2011

The Daring Bakers Go Candy Crazy!

Greetings from Ecuador! By the time this is posted I will have been here for a week or so. I am working on a course training English teachers, and living in a very rustic setting on a Pacific Coast beach. I have heard that internet access (and electricity) can be intermittent, so I have scheduled posts for the next 6 weeks, and I'll check in as often as I can and post pictures if possible.
Update! My laptop's hard drive crashed and died the day after I arrived! Some of the posts I had scheduled, but hadn't attached the pictures yet, so I've postponed those till I get back and get a new computer. Sp now I will post about once a week, but will be back in October. Ecuador is gorgeous, by the way, and the food, especially the fruit, is amazing.
Dark chocolates with passionfruit caramel filling
This month's Daring Bakers' challenge was fantastic because it didn't require me to turn on the oven. This month's Daring Bakers' challenge was not fantastic because tempering chocolate was required. I'm sure I've whined about this before in this space, but I am not a big fan of chocolate. There's something about the texture I don't like and I'm not crazy about the flavour either, but I do like chocolate cake and other baked goods more than plain chocolate. And yes, I've had the good stuff! However, I do like a challenge, so I jumped in as soon as I had a free day. Unfortunately that free day was one where the temperature was higher than the temperature I had to bring the melted chocolate down too, causing me no end of trouble.
My sweaty chocolates after their sojourn in the freezer
First of all, I had a hard time finding a chocolate thermometer. I called a local cake decorating supply store and they assured me that they had one for the bargain price of $6.95. I drove through heavy traffic to discover that it wasn't a chocolate tempering thermometer and didn't go as low as I needed. After coming home and making a number of calls I found a store in the other direction that did have one. I got it, but it only has Fahrenheit on it, and I am hopeless with Fahrenheit. I can barely spell it, in fact. 
I chose a heavy glass bowl to melt the chocolate in, and I think this was the wrong choice for the season. It held the heat forever and meant the chocolate did not cool down. I couldn't remember the temperature range and kept running to the living room to check my laptop. Even though I am very patient, I ended up sticking it in the freezer at one point. In the end, I did get it tempered, but then I had to fill the *^*%&^ molds! I lined them with chocolate, then overfilled them with the delicious, but too thin, passionfruit caramel (more on that in my next post), meaning it was impossible to get a nice thin, even base on them. I ended up with a thick layer of chocolate on the bottom and all the chocolates joined together. I did not foresee the trouble that was to come. Can you? When I went to unmold the chocolates, the base snapped off most of them and the filling ran everywhere. Out of 26 chocolates only about 6 survived. The rest? Garbage! I went to mope on the sofa in frustration and discovered that I had obviously stepped in some melted chocolate and left chocolate footprints all over the apartment. Sigh. And I was only half finished the challenge...
Luckily for me and my floors, the next part of the challenge was a non-chocolate candy. Yay! There were so many things I wanted to try, but I picked up a basket of Coronation grapes one day, and while I was eating them and admiring their tart, concentrated flavour, I decided to make pâte de fruit with them to see if I could capture that essence in a candy. The answer is a resounding yes! Coronation grapes are the Canadian cousin to Concord grapes and they are in the markets and grocery stores in Ontario right now. They are dark purple-blue, thin skinned, tart, seedless and with a strong taste. This is the first time I have done anything with them other than eating them out of hand, as I can easily finish a basket in a day. These were perfect little bites: tart, with a great texture and the coating of sugar was a great and necessary contrast. I used this recipe. Pâte de fruit has a reputation for being tricky, but I had no troubles with this one, and in fact sat in the living room with a friend, chatting, and only occasionally stirring the boiling mixture. I am much better at that than being focused and precise!
Thanks to Lisa and Mandy for a fantastically challenging challenge! You can find the entire text of the challenge, along with photos, links and recipes here. Please check out the slideshow of the amazing creations by candy makers more daring than me! I'll miss the next Daring Bakers' challenge, but will be back for October. Cheers!

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 athttp://www.chocoley.com offered an amazing prize for the winner of the most creative and delicious candy!


21 comments:

Vivian - Let's Try These... said...

I always end up looking a mess when working with chocolate, too. Good job!

Valerie said...

Hi Mary!
Wow. It sounds as though you're having an exciting summer. I'm sorry to hear about your laptop, loss of so many chocolates, and the chocolatey footprints.

The chocolates that did make it look fantastic...can't wait to hear more about the passion fruit caramel! And using grapes to make pâte de fruit was a brilliant idea. Yum!

Stay safe, and have fun! :-)

yummychunklet said...

The look amazing! Have fun in Ecuador!

Jo said...

ha! You feeling on the molds is how I felt about my damn thermometer at the end of this all. But your jellies look awesome and the filling in your chocolates is perfect.

Katie said...

You are definitely dedicated to get these posts up even from Ecuador. Your candies look delicious, and I hope the teaching is going well!

Valérie said...

Lol, I had the EXACT same problems with my chocolate bonbons! But your pâte de fruits looks amazing! That't exactly the texture I was going for, but it didn't work out too well for me. Hope you're enjoying Ecuador!

Bourbonnatrix said...

your post is great, but i feel your frustration! oh what a challenge! Enjoy your trip! :)

Audax said...

I hope your trip goes well, the fruit pate looks stunning perfect execution of this "tricky" recipe.

Cheers from Audax in Sydney Australia.

Ruth H. said...

I am sorry that the chocolates were so frustrating. The looked good and sounded delicious. Your pate de fruit had a great color, and look just right. I hope your trip is productive, fun and safe!

Lisa said...

Mary, your pate de fruits are stunning, and I still love your chocolates, even though it reminds me of Chef froo froo who gave me that 'liquid' caramel recipe!! I'm so glad you took part in our challenge :)

shelley c. said...

Your pate de fruit look SO good - I love the color and the texture looks perfect. And the chocolates look great too, even with the trouble. I hope that you are having a good, safe trip!

Cheap Ethnic Eatz said...

Your candies look fantastic. It is destiny that your chocolate ones were so hard for you lol. Bit the passion fruit caramel sounds AMAZING. Wow your comp dies after arriving? Have fun over there.

juliana said...

i hope you are having a great time in your holiday/working ecuador trip!
chocolate id very hard to work with! almost impossible! jaja
the filling looks amazing, and im sure the combination of flavors is wonderfull

Suzler said...

I hope you're having a good time in Ecuador! Your pate de fruit looks/sounds amazing. Gorgeous colour, and I love love love tart sweets. Were they are moreish as I imagine? Sorry your chocs were so frustrating - they still look delicious. Passion fruit caramel, yum.

MandyM said...

Apologies for the challenge of chocolate in the middle of summer! Not the best circumstances but it's great that you did it anyway.
Your paté de fruit looks fantastic :D
Thanks for taking part in the challenge!

lifeisfull said...

Working in Ecuador but still making your challenges, I admire your dedication! :) Your chocs look delicious, sorry you lost so many of them. The pate de fruits look yummy as well, reminds me of turkish delights!

Cakelaw said...

Mmmm, I'd love to have those grape jellies - they look delish.

chef_d said...

My chocolate bonbons were sweaty too! The grape pate de fruit looks delicious!

stacy :) said...

Hope you're having a wonderful time in Ecuador! Your candies look fantastic and I'm sure the passionfruit caramel was heavenly. I'm still trying to get motivated to write my candy post - hopefully before the next challenge is announced!!

Renata said...

If I were in Brazil I would have certainly made something with passion fruit also. The chocolate still looks amazingly delicious!
Sorry to hear about your computer.
Hope you have a great time in Ecuador!

Gloria said...

Look delish! gloria