Wednesday, October 27, 2010

13 Days of Halloween - Creepy Kitchen

So I didn't get this posted yesterday because I had a loooong night and was exhausted by the time I got done.  I had to make decorations for our car, then had to make candies and use them to decorate a two tiered Halloween cake, all for tonight's Trunk or Treat festivities (more on that, including pictures, will be posted after the event tonight).  I thought it might be fun though, to do a quick little tutorial on how to make your own molded candies.  They are super easy and always make for a great reaction from your party guests or candy recipients.

I use Wilton Candy Melts when making molded candy (see picture above).  They melt nicely, are easy to use, and come in a variety of colors.  You can also purchase candy flavorings if, say, you want to tint the red candy to have a cherry taste. You can get Candy Melts at Michaels, JoAnns and speciality stores. I also bought a bag of Brach's Autumn Mix, since I needed small pumpkins, and the pumpkin mold I had was too big for the scale of the cake. 

For this particular project, I melted my candy three different ways.  First, I knew I was going to use a lot of milk chocolate, so I fired up this little baby: Wilton's Chocolate Melter. It's a big time help when it comes to making candy. There's no messing with a double boiler, no having to reheat your pan of chocolate when it starts to get cold and sets up on you, and no separating chocolate because you got it too hot.  You can dump in a whole bag of the candy melts and it melts them all down, then you can change the setting to warm, and it keeps the chocolate at a perfect temperature.  You can lift the pot out of the warmer too, so you can hold it over your molds or whatever you're working on.  I also use this when I'm making chocolate covered oreos.

Next, I melted just a wafer of each of the three different colors that I was going to be using to paint details on the molds. I melted them in this little palate thing I have made for that purpose.  I also put some white chocolate wafers, dark chocolate wafers and black chocolate wafers into three plastic disposable piping bags.  All these items went into the microwave and I started melting them down at 30 percent power, at 30 second intervals. After each 30 seconds, I'd need the bags and stir the little paint pots.  This slowly melts the chocolate, so that it doesn't separate.  You just keep doing this until all the solids are melted and the mixture looks smooth.

Using a decorating brush, I painted the details on the candy mold.  Candy molds can be purchased at Michaels, JoAnns, some speciality stores and online, of course. My favorite place to shop in the Valley of the Sun is ABC Cake Decorating.  They have a huge supply of candy molds for everything imaginable, and lots of awesome cake making supplies too.  I let that candy set up, which usually takes no time at all, since it's a thin amount of candy.  Then I went back in with the piping bag with the next color I wanted.  For example, for the bats, I painted red on their eyes and mouths, then went in with the piping bag and filled in the bat with the black candy.  Once it set, I spooned out milk chocolate from the warmer, and filled the rest of the mold until it was level.  You almost have to think backwards, or in reverse.

Here's a key step, so pay attention - you need to gently tap or shake the mold, to get all the bubbles out and to make sure the candy has seeped into every crevasse of the image.  These molds are surprisingly detailed, but it can ruin the detail if you've got air bubbles or missed filling in a spot. I hold the mold up and look underneath to see if I've gotten rid of all the bubbles.  For stubborn areas, I take a toothpick and insert down into the chocolate and get rid of them that way.  You have to be careful when you do that, because even though you let the other colors set up first before filling in with the milk chocolate, the heat from that chocolate will re-heat the other layers and you could smear your colors together.

Although, in the case of my little tombstones, I wanted to make a marbled effect for the stone, so I piped in white and black directly in the mold and then swirled and mixed them with a decorating brush. The experiment paid off and it made a streaky, marble gray.  You can leave your candies out to set up in room temperature, but that takes forever.  I slide my molds into the freezer, just until the bottom of the mold appears frosty or the candy is firm to the touch (just make sure the molds can sit flat in the freezer, otherwise the chocolate won't set up level and you'll have slanted candies). You can tell by looking at it if it's hardened.  Then just turn the mold over onto some wax paper and they usually pop right out with little or no coaxing.

Below is a picture of my finished candies, which I then used to decorate a cake (again, there will be more pictures posted tonight).  You'll also notice the roof and side pieces of what looks like a house.  This is one of my favorite molds.  You put the four sides and two roof pieces together, using melted chocolate as the glue, to make a haunted house, which I used as my cake topper. How cool is that?  Also, the bat molds are actually shaped to be like cake picks.  You know - those little plastic decorations they stick into cupcakes - but instead, you can eat these ones! Again, how cool is that?

Sorry I didn't take more pictures while I was working; I was under a time crunch.  Maybe for Christmas or Valentine's Day I can do another tutorial on how to make filled candies, truffles, drop candies and dipped items (like oreos, pretzels, etc.) How about you - do you make candies for the holidays?  Leave me a comment and let me know.


Laurie B said...

So cute!! I can't wait to see the final cake. Molded candy is so easy to make.

I made chocolate dipped pretzles for friends last Christmas. So yummy and an inexpensive little gift. They loved them because they were homemade. I always make Divinity, my son Brandon's favorite. He called it "affinity" when he was little. I use the Betty crocker recipe. I make fudge using different recipes and also make peppermint bark. Peppermint bark is easy using crushed peppermint candies and melted Almond Bark. This I also give as gifts and it looks so pretty in a little cello bag with a ribbon.

chandy said...

Great job! I want to see the final assembled haunted house!

And I might have to look into getting one of those Wilton chocolate melters. I think that would be really handy for the next time I attempt to make some of Bakerella's cake pops.

Laura said...

I can't wait to see the cake, and (lucky me) I get to see it in person! Based on the amount of chocolate candy, I bet it's a chocolate cake and I know someone who would love me to win it! Although I seriously doubt I'll be able to afford it as we've got some deep pockets at Canyon and know your beautiful cake will go for a big chunk of change.

I've always been a cookie baker at Christmas. My Granny and Papa were the candy makers in the family. Every year Papa would make hand dipped cream filled candies like vanilla, maple walnut, coconut... they were delicious and I don't have the recipe. :(

Granny would make English toffee, peanut brittle, peanut patties, and fudge and I DO have her recipes! Guess it's time for me to continue the candy making tradition in the family. Maybe this year...

D.L. White said...

@Laurie - Yum! You're making my mouth water with all those yummy candy descriptions! I agree that peppermint bark is so pretty (and easy). I have found people love to get handmade candy. Which makes sense because, I mean, what's not to love?!?

@Chandy - DEFINITELY invest in one! I think they typically run $30, but I got mine for $15 or $10 if I remember right, because I waited and used a 1/2 off coupon at Michaels. It's one of the handiest tools I have. It keeps the chocolate at the perfect consistency.

@Laura - Your Papa's candies sound delish. There are recipes that have disappeared from our family too, once the person has passed one. We've tried mimicking them or guessing at ingredients, but never quite get it right. :(

Gluten Free Teacups said...

LOve your idea and put a link to your site from my blog. So creative and fun

D.L. White said...

Thanks for the link back! Glad I could share the fun and ease of chocolate molding with you. :)