The above photo of strawberry paté de fruits looks entirely normal and would lead you to believe that this challenge went off without a hitch.
This is not the truth.
Much like my first Daring Bakers’ Challenge a year ago today, this challenge was a hot mess.
Before we go into details, let me tell you a little bit about this challenge. The August 2011 Daring Bakers’ Challenge was hosted by Lisa of Parsley, Sage, Desserts and Line Drives and Mandy of What the Fruitcake?!. These two sugar mavens challenged us to make sinfully delicious candies. This was a special challenge for the Daring Bakers because the good folks at http://www.chocoley.com offered an amazing prize for the winner of the most creative and delicious candy.
For my take on this challenge, I chose to make strawberry paté de fruits, wasabi dark chocolate truffles, and Kahlua coffee truffles. In the beginning, all of these candies were shaping up to be delicious, wonderful renditions of a fun challenge. In the end, all of these candies left me blinking in disbelief at where it all went wrong.
To be fair, though, it’s not really the fault of these candies and the minor mishaps that occurred in their preparation that made this challenge feel so topsy-turvy. For this past week, I have been alternating between periods of intense productivity and utter ditzyness, between excited energy and dogged determination. My brain has been firing a mile a minute, I’ve been busier than ever, and my schedule has exploded with activity.
The fall semester has started.
Five classes are now a part of my life. Two of History, two of Spanish, and one cute little elective of Music Appreciation. Fun and interesting they are, but an unexpected amount of work they are as well.
And I started a new job this week, too.
Ya see? Busy.
Probably due to all the new information entering my brain this week, I’ve been embarrassingly spacing out when it comes to organizing other areas of my life, like Daring Bakers’ challenges and normal bedtimes.
Paté de fruits were formed from a delicious recipe provided in the Daring Bakers info packet, but proved ten times too sticky to cut out into cute star shapes. Wasabi dark chocolate truffles had a cool taste to them, but were summarily ruined by poorly-tempered chocolate. Kahlua coffee truffles were insanely yummy, but also fell victim to my irresponsible tempering.
It was the chocolate I used. Rather than activate my college brain and my critical thinking skills and buy a few quality bars of chocolate, I decided it would be just fine to use some semi-sweet chocolate chips I had in the pantry.
It was not just fine.
Basically, the problem lies in their structure. Regular ol’ chocolate chips are crafted with extra bits and pieces (a.k.a. chemicals, additives, etc.) to make them hold their shape while baking. While this makes for some lovely looking chocolate chip cookies, I’m sure you can see how chips specifically designed not to melt would not work for…er, melting. Tempering chocolate specifically requires melting chocolate until it reaches a certain temperature, cooling it down to another temperature, and then heating it up to another, melty, workable temperature again.
See what I meant about my brain not working?
Let’s not even talk about my wasabi decoration ideas.
While I generally feel like this is a challenge best forgotten for me, I do want to leave you with a few thoughts. First, paté de fruits is yummy and cool—like huge chunks of Fruit Roll-ups coated in crunchy granulated sugar. Second, wasabi is tasty when mixed with chocolate, but probably not something that you’d want a whole box of. Third, adding 1/2 teaspoon of instant coffee and 2 1/2 teaspoons of Kahlua to your basic chocolate truffle recipe is a thing of immeasurable beauty. Even when it’s poorly coated with semi-melted, cheapo chocolate it’s insanely delicious.
Now, I’ve still got more homework to do in order to restore a sense of equilibrium in my suddenly-busy-again life. If you’d like to learn more about this month’s challenge or try out one of the many, many other candy recipes provided, take a looksee at the information packet from the Daring Bakers.