Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Back from the Holidays - Happy New Year

My husband and I got to visit with most of my sisters and also some friends over the recent holidays. It is always a celebration when my sisters get together and only one missed out this time, so there were 5 of us, along with spouses, some children and some grandchildren. My sister hosting most of the get together had 20 people in her house. The decibel level was amazing! It was a riotously good time. The week prior to Xmas we visited with friends and also enjoyed their company immensely. I am grateful for all the people we got to spend time with, some for the first time. I am grateful to have been able to arrive safely at all the destinations, though driving conditions were not always optimal. And, grateful to be home safely as well. 

Before drizzling with melted white chocolate
Before drizzling with melted white chocolate

Before leaving for the holidays I had done some baking and prep for holiday goodies. One new item I made was a White Chocolate Matcha Bark with Pistachios, Almonds and Rose Petals. I have had a fascination with Matcha green tea for some time. I have found that all Matcha is not created equal. The best, and best for drinking can be exceedingly costly, while there are some sold that are so pale in color as to hardly be noticeable. The best is a deep and bright green, or so I have read. My first attempt at buying Matcha green tea powder yielded a very pale green powder that required large amounts if one was looking for color in the final product. I had made some Pistachio Tea Cookies, a version of Snowballs. They were delightfully flavored, but their color was pale, pale green.

Paler Matcha Cookies left, Darker Matcha Cookies right
Then this past year I ran out of that powder and ordered another bag, this time being more careful of what I was ordering. This batch was a deep green, nearly olive, and far stronger flavored. I made the Pistachio Tea Cookies once again and this time I used less of the Matcha powder, yet the recipe yielded a far deeper green color, shown in the photos above. The flavor was excellent both times, though the tea flavor was slightly more pronounced this second time around. I explain this so that any who are unfamiliar with this Matcha powder might know what they are looking at, or for.

Back to the White Chocolate

I guess in my life, I had always taken for granted what was called white chocolate. I recall loving white chocolate as a child. Perhaps because when I was a child, there was actually white chocolate made with cocoa butter. These days it is becoming harder and harder to find any true white chocolate at all. What is commonly sold is an approximation of white chocolate, and often with no cocoa butter in the ingredients. It never occurred to me that one could make white chocolate from scratch!

After drizzling with melted white chocolate
After drizzling with melted white chocolate
Generally, white chocolate is a combination of cocoa butter, whole milk powder and sugar. Often, the white chocolate sold commercially is far too sweet. Making it oneself allows one to judge the amount of sweetness involved, making it more to taste. I felt that adding the Matcha powder would also help with this sweetness factor, as the Matcha is a bit bitter. I am not much of one for chocolate at all, and rarely eat chocolate. Once in a great while I will crave chocolate, eat a few bits, and be done with it for months on end. Since this is the case, I do not use chocolate often. I keep chocolate chips in case of the need to make cookies. I generally do not make candy. One of my sisters does make candies and does a lovely job of it. But not me. Which brings me to the subject of "tempering."

Tempering Chocolate

I will not go into too great detail on tempering chocolate here - only enough so you might try out this recipe with some success. Tempering is not absolutely necessary. What tempering adds to the outcome is that shiny exterior and a crisp snap when it is broken. Since I was starting from scratch, I felt I might as well go the whole nine yards and see if I could successfully temper the white chocolate.
Tempered White Chocolate Matcha Bark with drizzled white chocolate
Tempered White Chocolate Matcha Bark with a lovely shine

In order to temper chocolate, it is necessary to have on hand some commercial (or homemade) chocolate that has been previously tempered.  Since I was making this white chocolate from scratch with cocoa butter, I had to get something commercial that was previously tempered. I found some Lindt White Chocolate with true cocoa butter in it. This previously tempered chocolate had already had a chemical chain reaction called "seeding" occur. Some of this commercial tempered chocolate is needed to "seed" the new batch of chocolate. Tempering is required for this shiny exterior and crisp snap on breaking whether it is white or dark chocolate being tempered. 
Tempered White Chocolate Matcha Bark with drizzled white chocolate
Tempered White Chocolate Matcha Bark with drizzled white chocolate

In tempering white chocolate, bring ¾ of the chocolate (in my case all of the new white chocolate made from cocoa butter) to 110 degrees F. Chop the remaining ¼ of the chocolate (in my case some commercial white chocolate kept aside, i.e. the Lindt) into small pieces and keep handy. Remove the melted chocolate from the heat as soon as it reaches 110 degrees and begin stirring in the chopped commercial chocolate, a few bits at a time. Stir gently, so as not to incorporate air bubbles, and allow the pieces to melt before adding more. Continue adding in pieces of the "seed" chocolate until the temperature is reduced to 83 degrees.

At this point, remove any unmelted pieces of the "seed" chocolate. It is suggested to use a blow dryer to heat the sides of the pan gently. Blow the hot air onto the sides of the pan in 5 to 10 second bursts, until the temperature of the chocolate increases to 87 degrees F. Now, proceed with whatever is being done, whether using the chocolate for dipping or for pouring out onto a surface, as in my recipe. 

A Note on Dried Rose Petals

I happened to have some dried rosebuds in my spice pantry, as I had used them when making my Ras el Hanout. Not everyone will have dried rose petals in their cupboards, so these can be left out entirely, if desired. For the Xmas holidays, I felt the pretty dark rose colored petals would look great on the green colored chocolate. If desired, dried rose petals are available on

White Chocolate Matcha Bark with Pistachios, Almonds and Rose Petals

White Chocolate Matcha Bark with Pistachios, Almonds and Rose Petals

White Chocolate Matcha Bark

Makes approximately ¾ pound candy

12 ounces (¾ pound) cacao butter
1 tablespoon coconut oil
1½ cups confectioners' sugar
3 - 5 teaspoons Matcha green tea powder
1 tablespoon dried whole milk powder
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3 - 5 drops rosewater
1½ tablespoons chopped pistachios
1½ tablespoons sliced almonds
2 tablespoons crushed dried rose petals
½ teaspoon medium grind Himalayan sea salt 

1 bar (4.4 oz.) Lindt Classic White Chocolate Bar, broken or cut into small pieces

In a double boiler, set over (not in) boiling water at a gentle simmer, melt the cacao butter and coconut oil. Stir or sift together the confectioners' sugar, green tea powder and dried whole milk powder. Stir this mixture into the melted cacao butter. Add in the rosewater and vanilla extract. Pour onto a Silpat or proceed with tempering.

To Temper: With a candy thermometer, or one that will show lower temperatures from 83 to 110 degrees, monitor the temperature until the chocolate reaches 110 degrees. Remove from heat. Begin adding the Lindt white chocolate pieces, one or two at a time, stirring gently to melt. Add more only once the previous pieces have melted. Monitor the temperature carefully until the temperature decreases to 83 degrees F. Have handy a blow dryer. Begin blowing the warm air at he sides of the pan in bursts of 5 to 10 seconds. Monitor the temperature until the temperature of the chocolate reaches 87 degrees. 

Have ready a Silpat or other silicone surface, or grease aluminum foil and place on a baking sheet. Pour the tempered white chocolate onto the surface. Combine the chopped pistachios, sliced almonds and rose petals with the Himalayan salt and sprinkle this mixture over top of the chocolate. Allow the chocolate to cool completely, then break apart into chunks and store in a tightly sealed tin. If desired, melt any remaining Lindt White Chocolate and drizzle over the top.

My passion is teaching people how to create a harmony of flavors with their cooking, and passing along my love and joy of food, both simple or exotic, plain or fancy. I continue my journey in ethnic and domestic cuisines, trying new things weekly. I would love to hear from you, to help me continue my journey to explore diverse culinary experiences and hopefully to start you on a journey of your own. Join me also at A Harmony of Flavors on Facebook, and Pinterest and sign up for my Newsletter.

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