Join Date: Sep 2004
After much reading in the old cookbooks and notes from GGM Maclaren, and after discussing your description with Me Mum, I am under the firm belief that your confection was a chocolate fondant. The dead give-away was your description:
"...once it hit your tongue it melted. It was a really smooth chocolate...but if you sucked on it, it would become like a cream in your mouth."
Bingo! Youâ€™re talking about a fondant!
Making a fondant is simple really. First and foremost, it requires being made on a day with a relative humidity of 50% or less. The drier the day, the faster it will make. On days with a higher humidity, all of the cooking in the world will not get the syrup hot enough. The only complexity in making fondant is in the time and labor required. But an absolute beginner can do it well -- just read the method until you know what to expect and allowing patience through the process.
By the way, this recipe will yield about 1Â¼ pounds of candy, or about 75 pieces.
1 Cup water
3 Cups granulated sugar
Â¼ teaspoon cream of tartar
3 ounces milk chocolate, melted slowly and smoothed
Find a large, heavy saucepan with high sides (I use an 8-quart very heavy stockpot), and rub a light layer of butter beginning about 2 inches above the panâ€™s bottom up to about 2 inches from the top of the pan. (This will limit the syrupâ€™s ability to climb and boil up during cooking.) You will also need a long-handled wooden spoon.
Bring the water to boil over medium-high heat. Remove the pan from heat and add the 3 cups of sugar, stirring constantly until dissolved. Return to the med-high heat and return to a full boil. Sprinkle in the Â¼ teaspoon cream of tarter. BEWARE: The syrup will likely boil up and foam, so be ready to stir with a long-handled wooden spoon for a few seconds to relax the syrup! Attach your calibrated candy thermometer, ensuring that the bulb does not touch the bottom of the pot. Continue to cook, uncovered and without stirring, until the syrup reaches 234-degrees (F) (soft-ball stage).
Remove from heat and pour the syrup onto a marble slab OR a large jelly-roll pan that is elevated off the counter by a rack. (I have a nearly 3-foot by 4-foot, inch-thick marble slab that takes four people to lift onto my island, but you may not, nor do I recommend that you go you get one. A heavy jell roll pan will work great, and probably help you to contain the cooling syrup, but be sure to elevate it on racks so that air can circulate to cool the bottom, as well.) Leave the syrup alone, untouched for a while (10 minutes on a marble slab, or up to 30 minutes in the jelly roll pan) to cool.
When you can place your hand close to the surface of the fondant and not feel any heat rising, test a corner by touching it with a fingertip: If the fondant holds the indentation from your finger, it is ready to work. (It will still be warm.)
Hereâ€™s where my tools come in handy. I have old candy spatulas, that are much like heavy cake frosting spreaders that are bent at about 60-degree angles from the handle. (If you lay the spatula part flat on the counter, the handle leans back from straight up.) You can easily use regular spatulas, just get a couple of them ready.
Using the spatulas or whatever, start at one of the short edges of the pan and begin lifting and folding the cooled syrup onto the middle, lifting and folding, going all around the edges of the pan (always working from the outside edges to the center) and pushing the stuff down in the center as it begins to thicken. (I use a figure-eight pattern of sorts, alternating lifts from one scraper to another, back and forth.)
When the mixture begins to solidify and begins to turn white, scoop the sides of the forming fondant to create a slight well in the center and add the melted chocolate. Now, using a spatula and one of your hands, begin scooping up the fondant with the spatula and folding it over the chocolate, then pushing the stuff with the heel of your hand. Youâ€™re going to repeat this process of scooping up with the spatula and folding, then pushing with the heel of your hand several times until the mixture is firm enough to use both hands to knead. You will continue to knead until the chocolate is incorporated and the fondant's surface is smooth and creamy looking.
Shape the fondant into a ball. Wrap it tightly with lots of plastic wrap, place into a heavy-duty Ziploc and seal, removing as much air from the bag as possible. Place the bagged fondant in a cool place overnight (at least) to cure, but it gets better day by day. To keep the fondant for several days or even months, place the bagged stuff in the refrigerator.
When ready to shape the fondant, make certain the stuff is at room temperature and divide it, using a knife, into fourths. Use one portion at a time and keep the remainder judiciously sealed in the plastic and Ziploc.
Working on a surface dusted with powdered sugar, begin gently kneading the fondant until it is pliable, then roll it into a long cylinder, then cut into candy-size pieces. These can be formed by hand into round or flattened shapes, or can be placed into candy molds to create the shape of your choice. Set the pieces aside on waxed paper, covered only by a loose, clean kitchen towel, to dry for at least 8 hours.
12 ounces of semisweet chocolate, melted
(*If you want your coating shiny, add 2 tablespoons shortening to the melted chocolate and blend well.)
Next comes the messy coating phase. Place a wire rack inside your jelly roll pan and, in batches, place as many candies on the rack as possible making sure the sides do not touch. Next, using a large spoon, pour melted chocolate over the candies and allow them to sit untouched until the chocolate is set. (You can really speed this process by placing the pan of coated chocolates into the refrigerator for 30 minutes. Repeat with the bottom side, if necessary, and repeat setting time for the chocolate to harden. Scrape/pour off the residual chocolate from the pan back into the melted chocolate. Reheat over a double boiler until thinned. Continue with this until all candies are coated.
Store on waxed paper, separating layers, in an air-tight container.
Fondant is nothing short of magical, in my opinion. This very same recipe (minus the chocolate) can be flavored in nearly infinite tastes, can be rolled out and formed over a cake, can be shaped into decorations for the cake, and can be wrapped around cherries then dipped into chocolate, (The reaction of the fondant with the cherry juice will liquefy the fondant centers), and on and on. There are lots of recipes out there for uncooked fondants, using gelatin as the binder. And while they look wonderful, their taste is tremendously lacking. This is the real stuff.
Good luck! And donâ€™t hesitate to forward any questions along the way!
Pain is inevitable. Suffering is Optional.