Monday, November 9, 2009

Chocolate leaves

Cake decorating tutorial time!!

For Thanksgiving I'm planning on making an entire meal, from scratch. But along with the turkey, side dishes, and cupcakes I'll have more than enough on my plate. So any decorations that I can do in advance will be a god-send come Thanksgiving eve.

For some fall-related decorations I was thinking leaves would be perfect. Because nothing says fall like multi-colored leaves. And I've seen/read about making edible leaves by painting chocolate onto leaves. So I figured I'd give it a shot.

This was my first time trying this technique, and I have to say, it was easier and more successful than I even thought it would be. The moment you peel the leaf away from the chocolate is like magic!

All you need is:
* chocolate
* leaves (plastic or from an edible plant)
* cheapo paint brush

For chocolate you can use whatever block chocolate you want. I'd probably stay away from chocolate chips, due to the emulsifiers they use, they don't melt very easy. For decorating with chocolate I often use "melting wafers," or little buttons of chocolate, because they're cheap and you can buy them in a multitude of colors.

Alternatively, you can color white chocolate using chocolate coloring. But beware- regular food or icing coloring won't work b/c they're water-based (and water causes the chocolate to seize). You'll need chocolate coloring, which is oil-based to prevent the chocolate from seizing up.

To melt your chocolate just break it up (or toss a few wafers) in a little cup/bowl and warm in the microwave until just melted. Make sure not to burn the chocolate, so heat it at reduced power for short time-periods (30 seconds at first, less as you get close to the end.)

This is basically all you'll need to get started

I used mint leaves since they're edible, delicious and a bunch yields a lot of differently sized leaves.

Now just paint on the colors on the UNDERSIDE of the leaf. Remember, this chocolate technique is basically in reverse, so what you paint first will be at the "front" of the chocolate decoration.

Continue with any other colors you like. Let the chocolate set for longer if you want your colors to remain distinct and separate from each other. If you don't mind them mixing together a little bit, go ahead and brush the next chocolate color on while the previous color hasn't fully set.

In the end you'll have to give the leaf a nice, thick coating of chocolate to hold the whole thing together. Just make sure you have no "leaf spots" still showing. And I found out the hard way that not enough chocolate makes for brittle and broken leaves. So don't skimp on the chocolate in this step.

And just repeat the process a million times.

It took me ~ 1 hour to do about 30 leaves. But that included having to melt my chocolate repeatedly (boooo to cold ass apartments) and using lots of different colors on each leaf. If you're doing a solid color this will go by a lot faster. But it doesn't require a lot of technical or detailed work, so it's easy to do while watching tv or whatever.

When you're done just pop the leaves in the freezer for a few minutes to really firm up the chocolate. Then just gently peel away the mint leaves, and VIOLA!

The mint leaves will basically shrivel up as they warm up after you peel them off. So they're one-time use only. It's OK though- they've sacrificed themselves to a beautiful cause.

I mean seriously, how cool do these leaves look??

Make sure to use leaves of all different sizes. It makes for such an interesting contrast.

And just because I can, lots more pictures of pretty, pretty leaves

Can't wait to finally use them on Turkey Day. Happy decorating!



laurie_clarke said...

AWESOME!!! They turned out great!! I've known how to do this technique for years, but didn't ever think about fall colors -- and I've only thought about using lemon leaves (I thought mint would just tear up when removing). Someone once told me you could use those little silver or gold decorating leaves you used to see on old-school wedding cakes.. But who has those things laying around? Usually I do my leaves from wafer paper and airbrush (coconut rum sprayed on top so wafe has SOME flavor):

alice said...

Beautiful leaves!

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