Aha, temperatures have dropped down to a level that allows chocolate to make an appearance in a non-ice-creamy or unintentionally-melted state~! By now, of course, the mindnumbigly aggressive Christmas brainwash, brought to us by our favorite food industry, is already in full swing, selling Christmas sweets since mid-September.
I’m actually pretty good at ignoring the whole insanity until the gig’s actually just around the corner – with one exception: Belgian Spice Cookies… sans the cookies, that is. The cookies themselves usually have to wait until my favorite cookie baker’s stand on the Artisan’s Christmas Market in town opens its gates, but the signature spice blend replaces the cinnamon on my porridge almost every morning, all year round~ A couple of years ago Hubby asked me if, seeing as lacking an oven during Christmas-time to bake cookies like everybody else was one of the things that led to the whole making-Chocolates-and-Chocolate Truffles-instead thing in the first place, if the thought of putting the one Christmasy thing I so frequently use into the Chocolate-covered crosshairs of my mental invention-cannon. Duh… Another case of missing the tree for the forest, of course! And, of course, I went to work right away – and this is what I came up with~!
Just a quick warning ahead: these have two layers, both of which will take quite some time to set, so plan the rest of your chocolate-making day accordingly~ Whenever I make these, I prep the caramel layer early in the morning and the spice cookie ganache in the afternoon or, if they’re one of my usual set of 5 chocolates in one go, after dinner so everything can chill and set overnight before I decorate them the next day.
The Salted Butter Caramel & Belgian Spice Cooke Chocolates
For 60 bites, you’ll need:
60 Chocolate Casings – Milk Chocolate or Dark Chocolate both work, just steer clear of white shells unless you like it really, really, really sweet. Make sure to keep them in the “tray”-thing they come in to make filling them that much easier.
The Salted Butter Caramel Layer
200g Fine Baking Sugar
100g Butter, at room temperature
2 Tsp Fleur de Sel
175g Heavy Cream
1) Set a wide, heavy-based pan onto medium-low heat.
2) Dust the bottom with an even layer of sugar.
3) Allow the sugar to melt on its own, don’t stir it to incorporate the sugary islands floating around – you can’t rush a good caramel~
4) Simply tip the pan from side to side if you notice the liquid sugar turning too brown too fast while there’s still patches of white visible.
5) If everything goes according to plan, you’ll be looking at a golden caramel 10-15 mins later.
6) Meanwhile, pour the cream into a small pot sitting on medium-low heat and warm it up – make sure it doesn’t boil, though.
7) Grab a wooden spoon and flake in the butter, stirring each addition until it’s completey incoporated into the caramel before adding the next.
8) Once the last flake of butter has made its way in, carefully stir in the cream.
9) Turn the heat up to medium and bring the mixture up to a boil.
10) As soon as its bubbling up, take the pan off the heat and allow it to settle down again for 2-3 mins.
11) Stir in the salt flakes.
12) Allow the caramel to cool down to room temperature before transferring it into a piping bag.
13) Grab your chocolate-hull tray and a small sterilized jam jar – you’ll probably have a bit too much of the caramel, so that’s where, chilled and sealed, your leftovers can live for the next 3-4 weeks or until you devour them with a slice of bread or scone…
14) Slide the tray onto a large cutting board or baking tray for the time being.
15) Pipe enough caramel into each shell to fill it up by ¼-1/3.
16) Grab the cutting board and carefully tap it onto your work surface without sending the shells flying to pop the odd air bubble undoubtedly trapped in your caramel. Stubborn bubbles quickly raise their flags when approached with a wet toothpick, by the way.
17) Once you’re done, place the tray in a cool spot or the fridge for 1-x hours – x being the amount the caramel needs to fully set or the amount you need to get back to the lot~
The Belgian Spice Cookie Ganache
140ml Heavy Cream
60g Butter, at room temperature
100g 70-80% Dark Chocolate, finely chopped
60g White Chocolate, finely chopped
200g Milk Chocolate, finely chopped
5 Tsp Belgian Spice Cookie Blend
3 Star Anise
2 Allspice Berries
1 Cinnamon Stick
50g Belgian Spice Cookies, broken up into chunky crumbles
1) Pour the cream into a small pot sitting on medium heat.
2) Add the spice blend and the star anise and allow the liquid to work up a low boil.
3) Turn the heat to low once the cream had a chance to bubble up, then give it a couple of blinks to calm down again,
4) Pop on a lid and give the mixture about 30 mins to infuse.
5) Remove the star anise, the allspice berry and the cinnamon stick, pop the lid back on and keep the spiced cream warm.
6) Place a second pot holding the usual waterbath-setup onto medium heat and, while slowly and gently stirring the lot, melt the chocolate and butter into a glossy liquid.
7) Check if both of your components are at around the same temperature – if so, slowly stir the infused cream into the chocolate and keep at it until both components are seam- or rather, streaklessly combined.
8) Set the bowl aside and give it a bit of time to cool down to room temperature.
9) Prep a piping bag – get it ready but make sure the pipe stays closed for the time being. Disposable piping bags – the ones you can cut the tip off of to match the size you need – work best here since, once filled, it needs to chill for a bit.
10) Allow it to set for about 20-30 mins until the ganache is just firm enough to
a) pipe it into the shells on the waiting salted caramel foundation and up into a cupcake’y frosting hat on top, and
b) at the same time, soft enough to fill out every nook and crannies of the shells.
11) Once you’re done with the ganache, quickly dot the tops with the cookie crumbles before the ganache sets~ (great way to hide a serious lack of piping-bag skills, by the way…)
12) If you have a helping hand around when making them, have them stick those little chocolate “zebra rolls” – a kind of mini-drinking-straw you’ll most likely find in the baking (deco) section of your supermarket or near the ice cream freezers – into the sides near the rim to make them look like little iced chocolate or coffee drinks with chocolatey cream on top~
13) Place the tray in the fridge and allow the chocolates to set overnight.
14) Transfer them into an airight container – safely locked in and chilled, they’ll stay yummy for about 2 weeks.