Orange, Balsamic, and Salted Caramel Chocolates with Honeycomb and Hazelnuts

Orange, Balsamic, and Salted Caramel Chocolates with Honeycomb and Hazelnuts

This is one of those rare occasions when my cooking coincides with my art practise. I’ve recently been inspired by multi-sensory art and the general stimulating of the other senses to enhance our perception of visual art. For this I made some photograms in response to a trip to Bristol I went on the other day. I then analysed these photograms and developed a chocolate to reflect them. WARNING: things are about to get seriously pretentious!

I decided to go for a dark chocolate shell to represent the deep dark tones in the image. I then filled it with a orange balsamic salted caramel – bitter, sharp, sweet and salty tastes to reflect the structural and mechanical elements of the photos, whilst being smooth and soft in texture to reflect the softer marks captured on the paper. Finally, honeycomb and hazelnuts to give some texture, as the images are also highly textured, and to provide a roasted, caramelised flavour. It sounds weird, but it kinda made sense when I was working through it. I then got my friends to eat the chocolates in front of the photograms (as demonstrated by the lovely Lisa above) and voila – multi-sensory art!

As with all good chocolate work, this does require some techy stuff to make it, so here’s a quick heads up of what you’ll need:

  • A plastic mould to construct the chocolates in – I’d recommend plastic over silicon. It’s harder to get them out but you’ll get a more defined shape and your chocolates will have a greater chance of keeping their shine if they’re made in a plastic mould.
  • A good digital thermometer. This is essential for properly tempered chocolate which will result in chocolates that are shiny and crisp to bite into. It will also prevent the chocolates from getting a ‘bloom’ which is when the chocolate sets with a white chalky finish, so if you want a professional finish tempering’s the way to go.
  • You should also use a chocolate with high cocoa solids (higher than about 75% is good). You can find this out by looking at the back of the packaging. A higher cocoa content means that the chocolate is higher quality and will therefore temper better.

Recipe

Makes 21

Time: 2 hours

Ingredients

  • 400g Dark chocolate
  • 100g Roasted, chopped hazelnuts

For the Honeycomb

  • 100g Caster sugar
  • 40g Golden syrup
  • 1 tsp Bicarb

For the Caramel

  • 125ml Orange juice
  • 45ml Whipping cream
  • 1/2 tbsp Vanilla bean paste
  • 150g Caster sugar
  • 20g Liquid glucose
  • 100g Salted butter
  • 7 ml Balsamic vinegar

Method

  1. Begin by tempering the chocolate. Finely chop the chocolate with a serrated knife. Then put 300g of this chocolate into a heatproof bowl and place over a pan of gently simmering water (aka a bain marie), making sure that the bottom of the bowl doesn’t touch the water.
  2. Melt the chocolate until it reaches 55-58°C on an electric thermometer and then take the chocolate off the heat. Put 100g of the melted chocolate into another heatproof bowl and put back over the bain marie to keep it warm.
  3. Meanwhile add the other 100g of chopped chocolate you set aside earlier to the remaining 200g of melted chocolate and stir constantly until the temperature decreases to 28-29°C.
  4. Pour the melted chocolate you’ve been keeping warm back into the main bowl of chocolate and combine to raise the temperature to 31°C. Your chocolate’s now ready to use!
  5. Pour the chocolate over your mould so every hole is fully filled to the top. Tap the mould on your worktop to get rid of any bubbles and then turn the mould 180° over a container and let the excess chocolate drip out.
  6. Once the chocolate has mostly stopped dripping you should have the mould coated with a thin layering of chocolate. Take a chocolate scraper or palette knife and move the blade over the top of the mould at a 45° angle to take all the excess chocolate off the surface. Keep the excess chocolate for later and leave the mould to set completely.
  7. Now move onto the fillings. To make the honeycomb begin by putting the sugar and golden syrup into a pan. Put over a medium heat and cook, whilst stirring until the sugar has dissolved. Then stop stirring and leave the mixture to boil until it reaches a deep amber colour.
  8. Take the mixture off the heat and quickly tip in the bicarb. Stir quickly with a wooden spoon and then turn it out onto a baking sheet and leave to set completely.
  9. Next make the caramel. Put the orange juice into a pan with the vanilla and gently simmer over a medium heat until it’s reduced by half.
  10. Meanwhile put the cream in another pan over a low heat and start to warm through.
  11. Then put the sugar and glucose into another pan and heat gently whilst stirring until the sugar crystals dissolve. Then leave the mixture to boil until it becomes a deep amber caramel.
  12. Take the caramel off the heat and add the warmed cream, stand well back when you do this as the mixture will spit a LOT. Mix the cream in and then do the same with the reduced orange juice.
  13. Cut the butter into cubes and then stir them into the caramel, a few chunks at a time. Then leave the mixture to cool before stirring in the vinegar. Transfer the caramel to a plastic piping bag and leave in the fridge for 2 hours to set a little.
  14. Once everything is ready you can start to fill your chocolates. Put the leftover chocolate from earlier back over a bain marie to re-melt gently.
  15. Cut a small bit off the end of the piping bag filled with caramel and pipe a little bit of caramel into each chocolate shell – you want about half the shell to be filled with the caramel.
  16. Break your honeycomb up into very small pieces and put one or two chunks into the chocolates, pushing them down into the caramel. Sprinkle over the roasted hazelnuts and then leave them to sit for a couple of minutes so the nuts sink into the caramel.
  17. Take your re-melted chocolate and like you did before pour it over the mould. Shake the mould to make sure the chocolate has no bubbles. Then take your palette knife or scraper and drag the blade along the top of the mould at a 45° angle to remove any excess chocolate from the top of the mould. You should now have 21 chocolates filled with your fillings and topped off with a layer of chocolate.
  18. Leave the chocolates to set at room temperature. It’s important not to put them into the fridge when they’re setting as this could cause the chocolate to ‘bloom’ and get a white sheen. Then, once they’re completely set, put them into the freezer for 10 minutes (this will make it a lot easier to de-mould them).
  19. Turn the mould over and bash it on a work top to get the chocolates out (if you have a silicon mould you can just pop them out).
  20. Share and enjoy!

Thanks for reading,

Emma x

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