Surprise Christmas Trees

Preparation info

  • Difficulty

    Medium

Appears in

Real Chocolate: Over 50 Inspiring Recipes for Chocolate Indulgence

Real Chocolate

By Chantal Coady

Published 2003

  • About

This idea came from a customer at Rococo who wanted to send her nieces in America some cash for Christmas. I hope they ate the trees themselves, and did not give them away; each tree contained a roll of $50 dollar bills! You will need a two-piece polycarbonate mould with clips, available from good kitchen shops. There will be lots of extra chocolate, but don’t worry as you can use it to make other things later.

Ingredients

  • 100 g melted white or milk chocolate for the decorations (optional)
  • 1 kg real dark chocolate

Method

Prepare the mould by polishing the surface with cotton wool. The cleaner and shinier the better. The decorations are applied to the inside of the mould before it is filled rather than to the moulded object. Using the tempered white or milk chocolate, here’s your chance to let your creative spirit loose. Either make a cone of greaseproof paper to pipe the decorations or use a small paint brush. Remember that everything will come out as a mirror image, so if you are writing you need to practise your mirror writing. You can prepare a template and place it under the mould as a guide, or just work free style. Also when making pairs, any decoration touching the sides needs to be matched on the pairing mould. Probably it is easiest to keep away from the edges, and then you won’t have to worry about this. Don’t be inhibited, try out different brush marks and vary the thickness of the white chocolate, you can get very fine detail. Leave the decorated moulds to dry at room temperature.

Temper your chocolate as described and put it in a bowl set over lukewarm water. Clip the sides of the tree together. Ladle the chocolate into the moulds, filling to the brim. Pour back the bulk into the bowl, tapping the mould with the scraper handle. Scrape off any excess from the rim, and invert the mould, so the chocolate pools in the tip. Leave for about 5 minutes, then check to see if the chocolate is drying. It may still look wet in places, which is fine. Repeat the process for a second layer, which should achieve the desired thickness. Place a small surprise wrapped in cellophane (money, jewellery or even a message or poem) into the mould, gently wedging it so it doesn’t fall out when you invert the mould.

You now need to make a base for the tree. On a side-plate-sized piece of paper, make a puddle of tempered chocolate a bit bigger than the base of the tree. Press the open end of the mould into the puddle, releasing any trapped air bubbles, until it stands upright on the paper. Leave to harden for 15 minutes at room temperature, then put it in the fridge for half an hour. The time can vary depending on the thickness of chocolate and fridge temperature. Check at intervals until you see a halo where the tempered chocolate is contracting away from the mould. Then you need to take it out of the fridge; if you leave it too long, you might have problems with condensation. Peel off the paper and snap off the excess chocolate puddle, which should come away cleanly. If you can now bear to leave the tree in the mould for a few hours you should achieve a glossier object. When you come to unmoulding, release the clips and all tap the mould gently - the tree should just pop out…

Variation

Love Hearts can be made in the same way, using the appropriate moulds.