Easy Chocolate Gifts
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    Default Easy Chocolate Gifts

    Easy Chocolate Gifts
    Make your own for Valentine's or any time
    by Alice E. Workman

    Most people think diamonds are a girl's best friend, but they're
    wrong." My husband had been talking to our teenage son about girls,
    and how important good manners were if you wanted to impress a girl,
    then he suddenly threw this bit of advice in. "What women really
    want," he continued, "is chocolate!"
    I laughed, but then I realized that he's not too far from the truth.
    Though most women wouldn't turn down a diamond in favor of a piece
    of chocolate, few would turn down a gift of chocolates, either. Come
    to think of it, few men would turn down such a gift. Chocolate rules.

    The simple chocolate recipes below should bring a smile to your
    Sweetheart this Valentine's Day. They're almost as much fun to make
    as they are to eat!

    Basic Directions
    You can use either chocolate chips or sweetened baking chocolate.
    Baking chocolate will produce a slightly better product, but chips
    are a little faster and easier to melt (for those of us who are
    impatient). Instead of chocolate, you could use Wilton's candy
    melts, which come in a variety of colors and flavors and are
    available at most craft stores.
    Melting chocolate
    Never add water or liquid food coloring to your chocolate as it will
    ruin it. If you want colored chocolate, start out with white
    chocolate and add a small amount of the colored paste used in cake
    decorating. To use melted chocolate for decorating (like icing),
    allow it to cool slightly after melting and pour some into a zip-
    style baggie. Press all of the air out of the bag and close it. Clip
    a small piece off of one of the bottom corners of the bag to make a
    hole for squirting the chocolate through.

    Stove method
    Heat water in the bottom of a double boiler until it just begins to
    boil. Remove from heat (this is important; if you overheat the
    chocolate it will not be the right consistency for dipping). Add
    chocolate to the top of the boiler, and stir frequently until
    melted. If you don't have a double boiler, just use a bowl inside a
    larger bowl or pan of water.

    Microwave Method
    Put chocolate into a microwave safe dish. Cook for no more than 30
    seconds at a time, stirring well between cooking. Quit microwaving
    while the chocolate is still lumpy, and stir it well to allow the
    rest of the lumps to melt. You do not want to overheat the
    chocolate, as it will ruin the consistency.

    Place chocolates in the refrigerator or freezer for 5-10 minutes, or
    until set, then remove.

    Personalized Chocolate Plaque
    Cut a piece of waxed paper to fit the bottom of a small bread pan,
    leaving an extra 1/2 inch folded up on one side (to use for
    a "handle" when removing the chocolate later). Pour melted chocolate
    in, about 1/4-1/3" thick, and spread out evenly. Tap the sides of
    the pan lightly to remove any air bubbles. Chill until set. Remove
    from pan, and peel off paper. Use icing or colored, melted chocolate
    to pipe on a name or message. Add a chocolate leaf or two (in a
    contrasting color) for decoration.

    Chocolate Leaves
    Carefully wash a few leaves from a rose bush, grapevine, or other
    plant (don't use leaves from poisonous plants!), and pat them dry.
    Use a pastry brush to coat the top side of each leaf with melted
    chocolate. Cool. Brush on a second layer of chocolate, if needed,
    and cool again. Carefully peel the leaf off of the chocolate.

    Small chocolate leaves make nice decorations for other chocolate
    items or for cakes or pies. If you use a large leaf, such as a grape
    leaf, you can carefully set it in a bowl while the chocolate sets so
    that the chocolate will form a bowl shape. Put a few small candies,
    such as cinnamon red hots or starlight mints, into the chocolate
    shell for a nice gift.

    Chocolate Cutouts
    Pour a layer of melted chocolate about 1/4" thick onto waxed paper
    and smooth out. When cool, use cookie cutters to cut shapes out of
    the chocolate as you would with sugar cookies. Decorate with icing
    or melted chocolate. If you have several sizes of the same shape,
    you can stack several together in a tier, using a small amount of
    melted chocolate to "glue" them together. Use a different color of
    chocolate for each layer, if desired.

    Chocolate Surprise
    The surprise here is what's inside the chocolate. My family couldn't
    guess what it was, but it quickly became one of their favorite
    treats. Simply dip a mini corn chip in melted chocolate to
    completely coat it, lay it on waxed paper and cool. These are sweet
    and crunchy!

    Chocolatey Popcorn
    Spread lightly salted (unbuttered) popped corn on a sheet of waxed
    paper. Drizzle melted chocolate over it. Let cool. (Note: you can
    use unsalted popcorn, but in our home taste tests the salted popcorn
    was the clear winner for this recipe).

    Minty Message
    Place a few unwrapped peppermint patties in a row on a doily-covered
    plate, using a small amount of melted chocolate to "glue" them in
    place. Use colored chocolate or icing to write one letter of your
    message on each patty.

    Dipping Chocolates
    This is this easiest way for your kids to get in on the fun. Set up
    a few bowls with toppings such as coconut, chopped nuts, powdered
    sugar and colored sprinkles, and a bowl of melted chocolate. The
    kids can dip items into melted chocolate then whatever toppings they
    desire (if any), and lay them on a sheet of waxed paper to cool.
    Many items can be dipped in just halfway and will look quite nice.
    If an item is to be completely covered in chocolate, swirl the
    chocolate a little as you pull the spoon away from the item when you
    lay it on the paper, so that the chocolate will look more
    professional. To make them look even nicer, serve the chocolates on
    a paper doily with a few chocolate leaves.

    Some good items for dipping are:

    Large marshmallows

    Fruit, in season (berries, cherries, melon cubes, etc. - avoid
    fruits that turn brown, such as bananas and apples); use a toothpick
    for dipping.

    Sugar cookes (heart shaped, of course!), or vanilla wafers. Instead
    of dipping them, you could lay them on a piece of waxed paper then
    drizzle melted chocolate over them.


    Large nuts, such as almonds or brazil nuts.

    Candy balls: mix peanut butter and powdered sugar or cream cheese
    and powdered sugar and shape into balls. Refrigerate until firm,
    then dip.
    Molded Chocolates
    If you are going to make chocolates rather frequently, you might
    want to invest in a few candy molds to make shaped chocolates. Just
    pour melted chocolate into your mold until it is level with the top,
    and tap the sides to remove air bubbles. Cool completely, then pop
    out your chocolates. If you want to put a nut or something in the
    center, partially fill the molds with chocolate, add the center,
    then fill them to the top with more chocolate.

    If you have a mold with a fairly large shape, you can make a shaped
    chocolate shell. Just brush melted chocolate over the bottom and
    sides of the mold, about 1/4" - 1/3" thick (make sure it is coated
    completely). Chill, then carefully remove from mold. Fill the shell
    with pudding or small candies.

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