I got a new nickname Thursday night… “Killer”
It all started out quite innocently. (Isn’t that what they all say?!)
I’m pretty sure Mary, the instructor at the Chocolate-Making Class I attended at our local community college Thursday evening, dubbed me this because of my “killer” chocolate
tasting making skills. Or – maybe it was because she recognized my “killer” charm, wit and personality. Or it could have possibly been for my “killer” fashion sense (I mean who doesn’t envy an aging 50+ in jeans, pink Keds, and an Old Navy funnel neck fleece?!).
But alas, I’m not sure any of the above apply. I actually was a bit of a hot mess Thursday night…
Colleen, my daughter-in-law, and I were texting about something earlier this week, when she asked, “Hey, don’t we have some kind of chocolate-making class coming up soon here in December?”
I had completely forgotten!
Several months ago when the local community college published their “Fall/Winter Continuing Education” pamphlet, I had registered us for this as something fun to do together. It was this Thursday evening.
Thursday started out like many others these days with rising early and every intention of jumping in the shower before jumping into my work (from home) day. But, as is more often the case than not lately, that didn’t happen. Dang if I didn’t open my laptop first to start working, and next thing you know, Marty is home, and I am still in my pajama pants and hoody, bed head, yesterday’s mascara, and with a half cup of cold coffee on my desk – – – at 5 o’clock!
Colleen was coming at 5:30 for our 6:00 class. YIKES!
Jump in the shower, slap on some makeup, gargle with a bit of Listerine, and come out smiling. Ready with two minutes to spare. Score!
As we were driving to class, and I was secretly praying that I was heading to the correct campus location, my friend and neighbor, Tracy, called. I answered (on speaker – hands free!) trying to be witty with, “Do you have a visitor?”
(You see, Tracy is Mikey’s and my walking buddy – and when I leave and he is left to his own accord with doggie door freedom – my little 37 lb furry son likes to take the beaten path through the woods to Tracy’s house and whine at her door until she lets him in for some “poor little ole’ me” ear scratches and belly rubs.)
But Tracy said, “No… Did you forget we have a chocolate-making class tonight?”
I looked at Colleen. OH YEAH! Tracy is the one that told me about this class, and we were meeting her and her sister there. Sometimes I seriously think I am developing early onset Alzheimer’s! (But then one of my boys will charmingly question: “Early? onset?” GRRR! Some day they will be 50+, and I hope their kids remind them often how ancient they are too!)
We showed up for class, with another amazing two minutes to spare, after choosing the farthest parking lot from the Arts & Hospitality Building we could find just so we could
run walk briskly through the freezing cold and dark charming campus paths and arrive ready to rumble create magnificent sugary confections.
Mary was wonderful – and so was her daughter and chocolate-melting assistant, Ashley. Mary has been making homemade chocolate for over 30 years and works professionally in the food industry. At first, reserved and professional, her true wit and humor unraveled as the evening progressed. We learned some great tips for melting and molding and filling chocolates, while making new friends and laughing along the way.
TIP: Mary taught us to completely fill the plastic mold with melted chocolate (i.e. for chocolate covered cherries) to thoroughly coat all sides of each individual mold. You then turn it over onto parchment paper and let the inside drip out. Place in refrigerator or cool spot to let set, then repeat a second layer. Fill it full again and turn over and dump. Let harden again, then place a cherry inside and fill to top with chocolate. (Roll in fondant if you like.)
TIP: Use a squeezie bottle to fill molds. In the past, I had always spooned into the mold and made a bit of a mess. Squeezing it in is a breeze and much neater…….
Unless you are “Killer!”
I think I must have been showing off and trying to finish filling my molds first. I was humming along smiling and laughing and squeezing and filling, when SPLAT! – the lid popped off the squeezie bottle and all the chocolate was splattered atop the mold!
I was so embarrassed I forgot to take a picture (imagine that!?)
wanted to kill me was frustrated, she sure didn’t show it. She simply instructed me to grab a spatula to scoop it off onto the parchment and kindly refilled my squeezie bottle. (THANK YOU MARY!)
I continued on, and my chocolate covered caramels turned out quite yummy – you never would have known if I didn’t tell you here what a total mess I made!
This photo is AFTER the cleanup!
The next time Mary made her rounds checking on all of our progress, she politely and slyly asked,
“How are you making out, Killer?”
She said it so sincerely and innocently and quietly, I couldn’t help but burst out laughing!
And being one to “not let it go,” I continued on all night with my new nickname. I also dubbed my sidekick chocolate-making aficionado, Colleen as “Killer Junior.”
TIP: Use “melting” chocolate – not chocolate chips (i.e. Nestle). Mary mentioned they put something in chocolate chips to help them keep their “chip” shape that prevents them from melting completely and smoothly. I have found this to be true, and there is a big difference in the end product when using “melting” chocolate!
TIP: We used Merckens brand chocolate, and it was pretty good. I would give it a medium/average rating. It’s not the cheapest, but far from the most expensive also. It did melt beautifully, but the taste was not as creamy and milky as I personally like if I am going to indulge in chocolate treats such as this. I look forward to trying out some other higher quality chocolates, but this was not too shabby. (Marty and Nick were pleasantly surprised at what I brought home!)
Mary showed us how to make peanut and coconut clusters.
TIP: Use FREEZE-DRIED coconut as opposed to the typical sweetened, flaked coconut you might typically use for baking. It turns out much better! Less moisture content to “confuse” (for lack of a more technical term) the chocolate and result in a delightful treat.
While Colleen was busy making her favorite white chocolate covered peanut butter cups, I was flitting around being disruptive to everyone taking pictures and offering my own tips….
While Colleen was making our dark chocolate covered fudge fondants, I took a few more photos, offered a few more tips, and did accomplish a bit of chocolate making too! (note those beautiful caramels on the right in my spot below… though Colleen did do the white drizzle part… I know I know – I have the best D-I-L ever!)
TIP: Once all of your chocolate and filling is in the mold, tap it lightly a few times on the table or lightly shake back and forth horizontally a few times to even and smooth out the chocolate before it sets. It makes the WORLD of DIFFERENCE in the finished product!
I did manage to make chocolates, and look at what we ended up with!
TIP: A great way to melt chocolate and keep it melted is to do it in a crockpot. Who would’ve thought?
Not too shabby – eh?
We had a BLAST! We learned some great TIPS… We made chocolate (which Marty and Nick are thoroughly enjoying)…
But most of all – we made memories!
TIP: Clean-up is much easier if you let the chocolate cool and harden. Place the squeezie bottles that are all but empty, but coated with chocolate, in the refrigerator for several minutes. When the chocolate hardens, all you need do is squeeze the bottle several times and the hardened chocolate cracks and releases from the sides into a pile of broken up pieces in the bottom of your bottle. This can be saved and remelted. Much more cost-effective than washing and throwing out all of that delicious chocolate – and A LOT less messy too!
And after all that fun, Colleen and I were both thinking candy making and cookie baking the next day. I found the 40+ molds I had boxed up in the attic from about 20 years ago when Marty’s Mom and sister and I used to do all this together and texted Colleen to see if she wanted to come borrow to use for her baking and cooking this weekend. It brought back a flood of happy memories….
and I hope Colleen will remember our day and many more to come as we enjoy spending time and making memories!
Killer, Jr. & Killer
Of course she is the cute one on the left!
Cheers and Sweet Hugs,