Monday, 30 December 2013

chocolate spoons : what are they and how can I make one?

These chocolate spoons were a great hit with everyone this christmas, and I think they'd be a very sweet valentines gift (no pun intended!), or a little extra birthday present (not to mention Mother's Day or Father's Day)!  

The idea is simple - warm up a mug of milk (the hotter the better), take your chocolate spoon, which is a teaspoon with a big lump of chocolate on the end, and stir your milk round and round.  Hey presto - hot chocolate!

They're easy to make, and with a little thought can look very special.  Definitely cooking with children-able, and inexpensive - what more can up you ask for!

Handy tips when working with chocolate

  • While moving the bowl around, make sure no water is going to end up in with the chocolate - if you tip the chocolate into the hearts then water on the bottom may drip in too.
  • If for any reason the mould is wet (if you're making one batch after another for example, so it's just been washed up) it needs to be dried before you pour in the chocolate.  Very fiddly with a tea towel, but I have a solution - pop the empty mould the right way up in the microwave for a minute - this will boil any drops of water left on the mould so it will evaporate, leaving you with a dry mould - am I clever or what!
  • If the chocolate firms up before you're ready, pop it back on top of the saucepan for a minute, and it will loosen back up.

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The most reliable method I have found of melting the chocolate is the old fashioned in a bowl over a saucepan of hot water way.  The bowl must be clean and dry before you break the chocolate into it - otherwise it all go very wrong - all lumpy and grainy.  The water doesn't need to be boiling, just hot enough to warm the bowl.  Once the chocolate has really started melting, take it off of the saucepan - carefully, as it will be hot - and stir to make sure the chocolate doesn't get too hot.  Make sure that as you do this you don't accidentally add any water to the chocolate - I wipe the bottom and sides with a tea towel to try and avoid this.

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I found this amazing heart silicone mould at one of my favourite independent online stores - baked by me.  The edges of the hearts are fluted, providing a wonderful detail to the end product.  

Put a couple of tablespoons of melted chocolate in each heart, then (with the mould on a baking tray or chopping board) carefully ... (I want to say bang, but I'm going to go with knock) ... knock the base against a solid surface (such as a work surface or table) a few times.  This will level out the chocolate, and help any tiny bubbles find their way to the surface.

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Okay - on with the spoons!

Of course they can be made with just one type of chocolate, but I used white chocolate too.  So, melt, then spoon gently into each heart.  You could swirl the two chocolate mixture around a little with a cocktail stick, to give a pretty marbled effect - make sure you swirl right against the edge so it can be seen!  Another few gentle knocks to level the chocolate out, add some mini marshmallows if you so choose (as if anyone wouldn't choose to add mini marshmallows!), and leave to harden for a short while - five minutes perhaps, just the right amount of time to enjoy a cuppa!

The next stage involves a bit of imagination, and some amateur engineering - you need to place a spoon into each heart, push it right in till you hit the bottom, and somehow hold these spoons in position for a couple of hours while the chocolate fully hardens.  I used the same method as Smiler and I developed for his chocolate lollies, involving a wire cooling rack and knives or other heavy-ish items to keep the sticks (or, in this case, spoons) in place.  Sounds more complicated than it is - check it out and give it a go!

Once the chocolate has hardened (you can stick the tray in the fridge if you need to) you can gently ease the chocolate spoons out of their moulds, and decide what you're doing with them.  There are some presentation ideas below or, of course, you could warm up some milk and ... um ... check that they meet your exacting standards.  Best to sample a couple really I suppose ...

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They were a great treat for the kids, who loved the novelty of making their own hot chocolate after being given a mug of hot milk and a choice of spoons!  Smiler was particularly pleased by the marshmallows, freed from the chocolate as it melted in the milk, and also somehow getting it on the rim of the mug to transfer it to his forehead - the delights of being twelve!

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As most of the chocolate spoons we were making were gifts for friends (along with jams and chutneys; starry mince pies; and biscuit trees) I umm-ed and ahhh-ed a little about what to put in the chocolate - flat wooden lolly sticks maybe, or drinks stirrers?  In the end I decided to go with my first idea - actual spoons.  After all, spoons were bound to do the best job of stirring the chocolate into the milk, were the most environmentally responsible choice, and then the recipients have an extra teaspoon even the hot chocolate has been enjoyed!  I found packs of five Tesco Value teaspoons for 50p - bargain!

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Most of the chocolate spoons we made were given as gifts, and putting a little thought into the presentation meant they looked really special, a perfect mini luxury.  Each spoon went into a teeny (food safe) plastic bag, marketed for cake pops.  A ribbon tied around the bag meant the chocolate wouldn't end up falling out on the floor, and a chocolate spoon could be safely tucked in with other gifts, such as our jams and mince pies, which we presented in cardboard wine carriers.  So that the lucky recipients knew what the chocolate spoons were, and how best to use them, we cut labels from card, and while Smiler beautifully decorated one side, Petal and Noah wrote stir into hot milk and merry christmas on the other, and strung each label on a ribbon.

You could make a few variations (see below), wrap each individual one with the description on a label and give a mixture; or if you wanted a more substantial present you choose a mug to give, complete with a selection of spoons!  There are plenty of lovely mugs available to buy individually from supermarkets for instance, and very reasonably priced.  You could even colour coordinate the mug with the ribbons on the spoons...

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 There are plenty of easy but effective variations - use dark chocolate, or white, or layers of these.  You can sprinkle some coffee powder in the heart mould before adding the chocolate, and have choca mocha spoons; we sprinkled strawberry sugar crystals on top of some white chocolate spoons; and a couple of drops of orange oil in dark chocolate made amazing hot chocolate too!

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Although these haven't lasted well in our house, this is due to our love of hot chocolate rather than the long term viability of the spoons!  It's easy enough to make a batch at a time to fill the twelve heart moulds and then, once the chocolate has hardened, carefully remove from the moulds and keep in an airtight plastic container.  I know it might sounds obvious, but just in case it isn't, make sure the box isn't kept somewhere too warm.  They're fine at room temperature, but not too close to the radiator, okay?!  Stored properly, I reckon they'd be fine for a good few weeks, so really it's just down to how long you (and your offspring) can keep your paws off.

So, there you have it - chocolate spoons.

I'd love to hear about your chocolate spoons, so please get in touch or leave a comment, or you can find me on twitter (@abstractLucas).   (And photos - I love photos!)

If you'd like to see more of these sorts of ideas, type your email address into that box towards the top of the page in the right sidebar, and you'll find each new post arrives in your inbox like magic!

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  1. I love this idea. Definitely added to my list of projects to try with my little girl next year.

  2. I'm so pleased Emma, and I'm sure your daughter will love it too! They're something to keep in mind through the rest of the year too - very popular with family friends, extended family and birthday girls and boys in my experience! We've decided that once we've used up the hot chocolate powder we have at the moment we're going to make batches of these every so often instead, and keep them in a box in the cupboard. Hot chocolate is always a bit of a treat, and this makes it even more special! Thank you for taking the time to leave a comment Emma, and please do let me know how you get on!
    Take care


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