Chocolate, I love it, and will sneak in any excuse to eat or cook with it. Want to upgrade ice cream? Find an extra 15 mins to do this, a very quick chocolate bowl, the hardest thing about it, is blowing up the balloons.
Cocoa beans are dried, roasted and ground to form a thick paste called chocolate liquor, made up of cocoa solids and a light yellow fat called cocoa butter.
Use no less than 300g of chocolate, it does not matter really what you use, I just used open packets of buttons and some left over dark block, which I chopped. Chocolate chefs use couverture, which has a 35-50% cocoa butter content because it melts easily and is very smooth. Use this if you are a purest, but honestly, most people are just impressed and do not look for the finished shine!
ICE CREAM CUP
Melt half your chocolate in a heatproof bowl set over a pan of barely simmering water. Stir once or twice, that’s all, and be careful not to let the chocolate get too hot. Once melted remove immediately from the heat and throw over the remaining half of the chocolate. Resist the urge to stir, leave for about 7 mins. While you wait, blow up your balloons and line a tray with baking paper. After 7 mins, stir the chocolate it should all be melted and at the right temperature.
Simply dip your balloon into the mix, slant the bowl for a funky lop sided effect should you wish, lift out and place on the paper. It will make it’s own base. Leave to set, pop in fridge if you like. When the balloon can be lifted from the paper it is set. As soon as the chocolate is set, you must have courage and pop the balloon, do not slowly release as the bowl can be pulled in. Easy. I filled mine quickly with ice cream and nipped outside for a couple of strawberries, just to give you an idea, but anything goes.
While you have the mix, make some leaves. I went into the garden and got some lemon leaves, but anything shiny and firm, which have raised veins on the underside, and is obviously not poisonous, works well. Simply paint the chocolate onto the shiny surface of the leaf with a brush and then with your thumb and forefinger in a pinch run around the outside edge (this will make it easy to release). Put on the sheet with the balloons. When set peel away the leaf, I always go from the side. Ta da.
Feeling like a professional? Then go one better and turn your balloon upside down and pour the chocolate over the top, it has to be a little hotter for this so beware, too hot and the balloon will burst, too cool and it will not run. If you are feeling anxious do it in the sink to avoid a chocolate mess. As a cheat I put two bowls together………
I actually did this once for a wedding filled with white chocolate mouse and raspberries, it blew the guests away. Shhhhh do not tell them how easy it is.
TIP Always melt chocolate slowly and gently, and it can be done in the microwave, a friend told me the secret is to stir frequently. If your chocolate seizes (becomes a rough, hard mess) do not panic, you can rescue it by adding a fat; vegetable shortening, clarified butter, vegetable oil or cocoa butter a teaspoonful at a time. Always use a good balloon, not cheap water balloons, as they stick. I have been told a little oil on the balloons guarantees a smooth release, but I have never tried it. You can also add a flavor to the chocolate, just make sure they are both at the same temperature when you mix.
Chocolate curls are another easy trick, use a vegetable peeler on a solid block at room temperature. Simple peel down the thin edge.