52 Fitzroy Street,
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Christmas Day: 7am – 5pm
New Years Day: 10am – 7pm
When we think of Easter the first thought that comes to mind is the chocolate egg. Traditionally, the egg was used as a symbol of re-birth, often painted artistically with patterns and handed out to friends and family during Easter. Today, it’s the only opportunity in the year to consume loads of chocolate eggs and enjoy a four-day weekend. While we all enjoy stuffing our face with fancy chocolate, have you ever wondered what the process is in making a delicious high-end chocolate egg? Or maybe you’re ambitious enough to consider making your own? Well, we were lucky enough to be invited to the Cacao flagship store in St Kilda to see first hand how they hand-craft each and every one of their chocolate eggs.
We started off with a little bit of snacks, including some mini quiches, mini slices of toasted baguette with prosciutto and chutney and mini salmon burgers with dill and mayo. Yum! Our favorite was the prosciutto – the simple addition of a nice chutney made all the difference!
After a bit of a nibble and a catch up with the group, we took a quick sneak peak at Cacao’s Easter display; this was worth the visit on its own!
Everything in the display was hand crafted with love by the Cacao team, taking a whopping 50 hours and 1 tonne of chocolate to make! Insane!
It was into the kitchen for us after that as we rolled up our sleeves to do some learning.
Starting off on a clean, cool marble bench, Tim Clark – our host from Cacao, took us through the tempering process. This needs to happen in this order to make the Easter egg molds and giving that desirable chocolate snapping sound.
Here are some quick tips on tempering chocolate:
- Correct selection of cooking chocolate is crucial – the best chocolate to work with contains a decent amount of butter fat;
- The chocolate needs to be split into two parts – one-third gets cooled on the bench to 28 degrees, and two-thirds remains heated at 42 degrees. This is process is often called seeding;
- The best method to cool the chocolate down is to use as much surface space as possible. The thinner the layer of chocolate to bench top (in this case, marble) the quicker the chocolate will cool;
- To determine when the chocolate is at the right temperature, Tim advised to first start with a kitchen thermometer but incorporate your sense of touch. Fingers and lips are the preferred gauge.
Making the mold
Making the mold is fun (but messy!). Before you start, you need to make sure the Easter egg mold is well-buffed to ensure you get a shiny egg without cracks. To buff your mold, use a soft cloth or cotton bud and rub until a shine appears.
To create the egg mold you:
- Fill the mold until level;
- Using the back corner of the spatula (dull side), tap both sides of the mold so that air bubbles rise to the top. This ensures the mold is smooth;
- Use the spatula to remove excess chocolate from the top and sides or the mold;
- Next is the hard part – with a good grip on the mold, flip it quickly so that the chocolate pours back into the main container where your other excess chocolate resides; and
- Using the spatula, scrape excess chocolate away from you, back into the main bowl.
Voila! What you’re left with is a thin coating of chocolate that will form the outer part of the shell.
At this part of the process, we added a little bit of salted caramel into the shell, and then left the chocolate mold sitting upright to set. The mold is left upright to ensure the chocolate doesn’t move into the centre if the shell.
If it’s a hot day, you need to leave the chocolate in a room temperature (18 degree) location to set.
Once set, add another layer of chocolate using the same method. You usually need to do two to three layers to get the shell at the right thickness.
While the guys at Cacao sorted out making mini-eggs to sit inside our larger Easter eggs, we learnt how to make salted caramel from scratch, and even managed to snag their secret recipe, just for you!
Salted Caramel and Milk Chocolate Spread Recipe
- 670g castor sugar
- 750g fresh cream
- 2 fresh vanilla beans, or vanilla essence or paste
- 520g unsalted butter
- 6g fluer de sel (sea salts from France)
- 100g milk coverture chocolate
- Make a caramel by caramelising the castor sugar in a saucepan, stirring constantly
- Bring to boil the cream and vanilla bean in a separate saucepan
- Gradually pour the hot cream over the hot caramel, continuing to stir continuously. Take care whilst doing this to avoid spitting hot caramel
- Add the butter and continue cooking the mixture to 106 degrees celsius, stirring continuously
- Once the mixture has reached the desired temperature remove it from the heat and let it sit for 2 minutes before pouring the hot caramel over the chocolate and mix together until smooth
- Pass mixture through a fine sieve and refrigerate covering overnight in the fridge
Other tips for making salted caramel:
- You can take a brush and coat the sides of the pot with water or vinegar. This stops the caramel sticking to the sides and burning;
- Vanilla beans are expensive, so to maximize fresh beans, slice them down the centre and use the back of the knife to scrap down the centre of the bean;
- Let the salted caramel cool before using.
With the egg molds all ready to go, we popped the salted caramel mix into a piping bag and started to pipe them into the mini-eggs. We filled the eggs up to 2/3 of the way with the mixture.
Once filled with salted caramel, we piped some tempered chocolate over the remaining third if the mold. We lightly tapped the mold against the bench to even out the mixture. After a couple of minutes, we the joined two filled molds together to create a little egg! Yum!
The final product was within sight and we were getting excited! Tim brought out a heated baking tray, which we used to soften the rims of two halves of our egg. It only took a couple of seconds of sliding them around before they were ready for sticking! Before we stuck them together though, we put our completed mini-egg inside as a little treat!
The final product was great!
Final Thought: “Delicious hand-made chocolate”