Thursday, December 14, 2006

drinking straws and duct tape

It's the holidays and all of the people with whom I work are talking about all of the baking goodness they are producing from their kitchens. Patients are bringing in baskets of homemade confection perfections. It's certainly that time of year. Ho-ho-ho and a bottle of rum.*

The Hater and I don't really have any holiday baking traditions. We're told this will change after we have little Haters running around looking for Santa. But being surrounded by this season of refined sugar, I thought we might throw something together for the holidays. So I went through the stacks of the recipes of my coworkers and found one that looked both different and easy.

Except it called for melting chocolate in a double boiler, which we don't own. Our kitchen is smaller than most people's master bathrooms... so we've yet to accrue many fancy kitchen gadgets. And we don't have space for many of the fancy kitchen gadgets that we do own and were given at our wedding. Long story short, I told my coworkers that I couldn't make the goodies because we didn't have the equipment.

But lo! They told me that I could improvise if I used two pots, the larger on the bottom with boiling water; the smaller floating on the water. It certainly sounded do-able, so on the way home The Hater and I stopped to get the supplies.


We get everything together and I rig up the redneck double boiler. After a while the chocolate begins to melt. Except it never got really melty, and the pot I used on top was too small, so stirring in the peanuts and chow mein noodles was difficult and not at all the vision of Nana-grade goodness I was hoping to attain.

The steam burned me while we were stirring. And the chocolate goodies didn't really goo together on the wax paper, which leads me to believe that maybe I put too much stuff in the chocolate goo. We have plenty of ingredients, so we may try it again this weekend with different pots and more goo.

But as of now, we're thinking this isn't the Christmas baking tradition we want to recreate every year...

* We stopped for some wine on the way home. When we got home there was a small bottle of rum in the bag.


Molly Jane said...

Ahhh, baking goodness. I have decided not to make much in the way of cookies this year as well. That's my mom's bag. Instead, I learned to make homemade marshmallows and dipped them in chocolate. It was way fun. Also, was the kind of chocolate you bought for "candy-making"? If you get that kind, it melts easier. And, the water doesn't have to boil. Medium heat is plenty. If it gets too hot, the chocolatey goodness factor goes down the proverbial drain.

Anonymous said...

Do you have a mixing bowl (metal or glass) that will fit over the top of the saucepan you have the water in? You don't really want the pot with the chocolate to touch the water or the chocolate could scorch. You can also melt the chocolate in the microwave. Make sure you don't get any steam or water in the chocolate or it will seize. And who wants seized chocolate? I know I don't. ;-)

From my good friend, Ruth, who wrote the book on candymaking. She was giving another friend advice on making truffles. But the melting method should be the same.

Break up chocolate into smallish pieces. VERY carefully, put in microwave. If you have defrost cycle, do that. If not, go for 1 minute then stir, repeat until almost melted. Don't burn it. If you are using dark chocolate for the truffles, you might need a little more cream. The proportion I gave is for mostly milk chocolate. You might need 1 1/2 cups cream if using dark. Good luck. R,


genderist said...

Funny you should say that, Marian... because that's exactly what my coworkers suggested yesterday. They actually told me to put together the steamer with an extra aluminum bowl on top... but I"m not so sure how the stirring logistics will work.

More on this as we play later.

Anonymous said...

Do you mean the stirring in of the stuff after the chocolate is melted? Are you worried that it'll get solid too fast? If you have a heating pad, put it down on your counter and turn it on high and work on top of that. Put a thin kitchen towel on top of the pad if you're worried about slopping the stuff out. If it gets really hot, you should turn it down though. That should keep it workable until you're ready to form them.