Friday, April 2, 2010

Easter Chocolates

What better way to celebrate Easter than chocolate, chocolate, and more chocolate?

If you've ever lived in France, you know what a big deal chocolates are this time of the year. Everywhere you look, huge chocolate eggs are filled with smaller ones, bunnies, chicks, and fish. Fish? Yes!

Well, chocolate fish, obviously. I don't really know where or when this tradition originated, but fritures are a common Easter treat in France. You usually buy a mix of dark, milk, and white chocolate fritures to hide in big eggs or chocolate hens; "friture" means something that's been fried. I can see you scrunching your nose, thinking how strange it is that people would actually want to buy sardine and lobster-shaped chocolates that seem like they're fried, name-wise anyways. Take one look at cute chocolate seahorses and I can bet you'll become a fan of fritures, too.

Usually, for Easter, I always do the same thing: I eat amazing chocolate. I just might be a little on the spoiled side. My parents send me all the American Easter chocolate I can't find over here--think Cadbury Mini Eggs--and my aunt Mimi goes the deluxe route. Let me explain: in the East of France, where my French family lives, there is a chocolate shop that exerts some kind of strange attraction on everyone I know. You step into the shop and the strong chocolate smell just hits you like a baseball bat and you forget about everything else. I'm not kidding. Some people have been known to miss flights, trains, and weddings because of Carl Chocolates. (Alright, maybe not. But maybe!) It's pricey, but so absolutely amazing that a 10-inch high chocolate hen, stocked with melt-in-your mouth chocolate eggs, disappears in less than a day in my hands. Never mind the stomach ache later on--another whiff of the chocolate smell makes you forget about it pretty fast.

Anyway, Carl chocolates have been one of my favorite treats since I can remember. This year, instead of being the passive, chocolate-devouring little girl everyone knows me as, I decided to go ahead and make my own. Yep, I made my own chocolate. I didn't really go and pick out the cocoa beans, but I still consider these "mine". After some internal debating, I settled on a few flavors: 70% dark cocoa with crystallized ginger bits, 61% semisweet cocoa with chopped almonds and golden raisins, and "Bounty" chocolate, milk chocolate with a coconut filling (made by mixing sweetened condensed milk with desiccated coconut). 

One thing you need when making your own chocolates is a good thermometer: you're going to need it. Tempering chocolate is one fun activity (I say this with a little bit of irony): up and down, up and down. Your mind will be swirling with temperature charts! A quick search on Google gives you tempering charts for most types of chocolate, which is useful. But it's still a complicated task, and one that I would recommend only if you love licking chocolate-covered spoons for hours on end. I do!

There isn't a specific recipe for making your own chocolates: let your creativity run wild. Once your chocolate is tempered, mix it with everything and anything you want. Place it in little chocolate molds--I'll understand if the lobster isn't your favorite--place them in the refrigerator to set, and tada! If you hear a little crackling sound when you bend the molds around, your chocolates are ready!

Now go ahead and spoil someone. Happy Easter!
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claudia said...

why the French would want to buy "chocolate in shape of fish" makes sense to me!!while Americans give names such as "sweetie", 'honey", the French use animal names"ma poule", mon lapin"!!! Those chocolate look awesome! I could tell you the origin of fish as a present in the 1600 in France, but that could bore readers of your blog!!

ArchaeologyAnna said...

These are so cute! I keep trying to bid on antique chocolate molds of bunnies and different figures on ebay and keep losing!

Sinful Southern Sweets said...

Great job! I can almost imagine the heavenly smell of Carl's from your description

Ingrid said...

LOL, what's up with all the chocolate? Give me vanilla or caramel! Hee-hee! :)Am I your only non chocolate eating reader?

Happy Easter!

Anonymous said...

I woke up this easter morning and my first thought was "chocolate for breakfast". Now all I want is chocolate for dinner. I somehow find that chocoolate tastes better in out of the ordinary shapes. Like fish or bunnies. Is that weird?

Barbara said...

I am impressed you made your own chocolates! And they look perfect. Fish included.
Carl Chocolates sounds like my kind of store! I can smell them from, I guess that's my dish of chocolates on the table next to me. Resistance is futile.
Happy Easter!

Lucie said...

Anna: Well, I wish I could say that used pretty vintage molds but...easy to wash plastic is the way I went!

Ingrid: Next time I'll make salted caramels to go along with them, so everyone is happy!!

Vicky: Nothing beats biting the head off a cute chocolate bunny, in my opinion :)

Barbara: I actually try to hide the chocolate so I "forget about it". Except I never do, and just waste time getting up, digging it out, and hiding it again... Dish of chocolates is a much better way to go!

grace said...

good on you, lucie! your flavor choices sound great, especially the coconut variety. i'd eat that one regardless of its shape--it could look like a pile of dog poo and i'll still love it. :)