Baking therapy on valentine’s day

My valentine’s day wasn’t so nice this year, but I managed to save what was left of the day by some baking therapy: I made small, heart-shaped chocolate cakes using this recipe (I reduced the cooking time to 20 minutes, and replaced the frosting with some simple chocolate covering) to relax and calm down. Baking makes me feel like home, no matter where I am. It’s relaxing to stand in the kitchen, to concentrate only on preparing the ingredients, mixing them into a batter and to forget about anything else for a moment.

I also made my boyfriend’s favourite chocolates and allowed myself to focus completely on it for the first time ever since I started going to university. During the last few months, cooking and baking was always something I had to fit in between classes and other appointments. But on valentine’s day, I just took the time for making chocolates and didn’t think about exams and stuff like that for a few hours.

These chocolates are pretty simple to make, no fancy techniques or ingredients, and as long as you use good quality chocolate, they should taste pretty good. Personally, I prefer Callebaut chocolate (but I think any other good quality will be fine, as well) and I like to blanch the almonds and then skin them myself instead of buying blanched ones.

They taste a little bit like “nama chocolate”, a japanese version of small chocolate cubes, consisting of chocolate ganache dusted with cocoa. The only difference between those and my boyfriend’s favourites is the single almond I like to place on top of each chocolate. Their hearty crunch and nutty flavour complements the creamy, rich texture of the chocolate and thereby completes the simple concept of this confectionery.

Nama Chocolates with Almonds
makes 15-20 chocolates
60g bittersweet chocolate chips (at least 50% cocoa solids)
40g + 20g milk chocolate chips
47g cream
about 20 almonds
cocoa powder, for dustingYou’ll also need:
about 20 candy cups (I prefer heart-shaped ones)
a decorating bag + star-shaped tip
  • Put almonds into a bowl. Bring water to a boil and pour it over the almonds. Let sit for about ten minutes.
  • Meanwhile, prepare the ganache. Put 60g bittersweet chocolate chips and 40g milk chocolate chips into a bowl.
  • In a small saucepan, bring cream to a boil, then pour it over the chocolate chips and stir until all creamy and smooth. If the chocolate doesn’t melt completely, reheat the mixture in a waterbath/bain-marie.
  • When the mixture is all molten and smooth, add the remaining 20g milk chocolate chips and stir until they’re dissolved as well. The ganache should be thick and creamy by now. If it is still rather liquid, let cool for a few minutes.
  • Take the almonds out of the water and peel their skin off.
  • Next, put the ganache into the decorating bag and pipe it into the candy cups.
  • Sift a little cocoa powder over each chocolate before the surface starts to harden.
  • Put an almond on top of each chocolate and push it slightly into the ganache, so that it’ll stick to the chocolate. Let cool completely.

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