Chocolate and the holidays go hand in hand, so it’s no wonder we’ve been using the stuff pretty frequently on the blog lately. Just to take the correlation to a more literal level, today we’re making a favorite decoration of mine – chocolate jingle bells. I’ve used these on everything from tarts, to entremet and of course, showpieces. The beauty of this decoration is that it’s really pretty simple.
As always, if you’re new to chocolate work, take a little time to practice tempering chocolate. My post on tempering is a good start or even refresher, and will help maximize the success rate of your chocolatey bells.
Way back when we made chocolate rings, I mentioned that chocolate work is 50% making decorations and 50% managing the chocolate to keep it in temper/cleaning. Just like before, it’s important to get in the habit of working through a step in the method then taking a few seconds to tidy up and check the temper on your chocolate before moving to the next step. When you have a gap in working time, spend it wiping down your tools and arranging things back in order, not snap chatting bae.
Gather all of the tools and equipment you need before getting started with any chocolate. The last thing you want to do is have well-tempered chocolate ready to go and then have to scramble around to find that one tool you forgot.
The metallic finish is what really sets this technique off. The key to adhering the powder to the chocolate is in letting the chocolate develop a film of water on its exterior. The method calls for letting the chocolate sit for several hours, which is something you’d generally avoid. Over time, the humidity in the cooler reacts with the sugar in the chocolate that’s exposed on the surface, and a sort of condensation forms, made of a sugar syrup. This condensation is what will allow the metallic powder to stick to the chocolate, and the sugar in the syrup will glue the powder to the chocolate once the water has dried. Magic!
chocolate jingle bells
You’ll need the following items before getting started:
1 polycarbonate demi-sphere/hemisphere bonbon mold. The size of the demi-sphere is up to you and will determine the size of the bells. I’m using a demi-sphere that is about 1″ in diameter.
2 pieces of parchment paper cut larger than your bonbon mold
1 beater paring knife
1 offset spatula
1 chocolate scraper
1 small, round piping tip (6mm or so for a small demi-sphere mold)
1 soft paint brush
toothpick or skewer (optional but really handy)
chocolate, 61% Guittard Level du Soleil
Temper your chocolate and fill the bonbon mold (which I place over one of the pieces of parchment).
Give the mold a gentle shake or tap to remove any air bubbles. I use an offset spatula to spread the chocolate to any cavities that are under filled.
Using your chocolate scraper, scrape the excess chocolate from the top of the mold onto the parchment paper in one smooth, quick motion. If you do this slowly the chocolate will ooze over the sides of the mold making a mess.
Let the mold sit so it can begin to set. The longer the chocolate has to set, the thicker the bonbon shells will be (if you forget about it entirely or leave it too long, you’ll have solid demi-spheres that won’t work for this decoration). Ideally, the bonbon shells will be thin enough to easily cut through in the next steps, but not so thin that they are too fragile to handle. At common room temperature, 70F, I may let them sit for about 1-2min. Warmer than that will take more time and cooler than that will take less.
Invert the bonbon mold over the parchment paper to allow the excess chocolate that has not yet set fall out. You may have to give the side of the mold some gentle taps to help the chocolate along.
Scrape the excess chocolate off of the mold once more (I do this while still holding the mold upside down).
Invert the mold and place it firmly onto the second piece of parchment paper.
Allow the shells to set until you can peel the mold from the parchment paper without any chocolate sticking. Give the mold one more scrape to remove excess chocolate.
Let the bonbon shells set completely and unmold them. If you’re having trouble getting the shells to release, place the mold in the cooler for 3-5min. and try again.
Glue the shells together to form spheres. Because the two shell halves are so light, you don’t need tempered chocolate to do this.
Gently heat a flat, metal surface (your chocolate scraper is a great option). I have a gas stove and use the flame from a burner to do this at home. You could also use a blowtorch or even a hair dryer if you don’t have access to an open flame (don’t use a candle). Keep in mind that just the heat of your hand can warm chocolate, so don’t go overboard when using a flame to heat the metal, especially if you’re using a blowtorch.
Very briefly rub the edge of each shell on it to melt the edge. Sandwich the two halves together and place them back in the bonbon mold with the edge showing to let them set. Don’t melt the shells too much, which can happen easily, or the sphere will be misshapen and you may have too much melted chocolate to properly set.
After the halves are set, remove the spheres from the mold. Heat your chocolate scraper again and melt the bottom of one half of the spheres just until you achieve a flat surface to act as a base so the sphere doesn’t roll all over. Make sure not to melt along the seam of the two halves. Place the spheres back on the parchment paper and allow them to set in the cooler for 3-5min.
Heat your paring knife as you did the chocolate scraper and melt two incisions in an “x” on the top half of the sphere. A gentle sawing motion works best (don’t press straight down with pressure). Again, it doesn’t take much to melt chocolate and hopefully the shells are thin so don’t go loco with heating your knife.
Heat the piping tip and melt holes at the base of each line of the “x.”
Once all of the spheres have had the pattern melted into them, place them in the cooler, uncovered for several hours up to overnight.
Remove the chocolate spheres once they have developed a visible “sweat” on their surface.
Brush the spheres liberally with metallic powder. I use a skewer to hold the sphere in place and move it around without using my fingers, which would pull up the powder.
Let the spheres dry for several hours and brush off any excess metallic powder.
Spheres no more, you now have your very own chocolate jingle bells! Santa will be jealous.
Cheers – Chef Scott