Notes: My inspiration for this Valentine's chocolate came from those little cinnamon hearts that you see this time of year. They're brightly coloured and spicy with a cinnamon-peppermint flavour. The plan was to take the cinnamon hazelnut ganache recipe, omit the hazelnut praline, add some chili for heat, and form them with a heart-shaped magnetic mold.
Molded chocolates are time-consuming, so I decided to make two trays (about 40-50 pieces). I broke down some of the semisweet Callebaut chocolate (from that online purchase at Costco) and tempered it to line the molds. Practise makes perfect, and I definitely have not had much practise lately. I didn't pay enough attention to the chocolate while I was stirring it, so the edges started to solidify before the entire amount got down to the working temperature. Using an immersion blender (a technique that Recchiuti advocates), I tried to pulverize the lumps but ended up incorporating a lot of air bubbles instead. Once the chocolate was tempered, I filled the molds, waited a minute, then inverted them. The room temperature was cool, and the molds were cool too, so the surface set up very quickly, and I had difficulty scraping the surface clean.
On to the ganache: I made a triple batch, to make up for the lost volume from the omission of the praline. I didn't have enough cinnamon sticks or powder (sigh, mise en place, I know) and I knew the flavour wouldn't be strong enough. I added a few crushed pequin chiles but couldn't detect it in the infused cream. To compensate, I started adding pinches of cayenne pepper until there was enough heat. This is one of the more difficult parts when making fillings: obtaining the desired flavour profile.
After chilling the ganache until it was firm enough to pipe, I briefly tried using a parchment cone, but it was too clumsy, so I switched to a pastry bag with a small round tip. This made the job of filling 40+ cavities very fast and easy. When the filling was firm, I used a finger to press down the little peaks. This step is important to ensure that the chocolates will seal properly, as a filling that rises above the level of the mold will interfere with scraping the bottom clean. You don't have to do this if the ganache is liquid enough, as it will just naturally settle.
And the moment of truth? When I inverted the polycarbonate molds over a Silpat and tapped them firmly with a wooden spoon… they all fell out! My tempering mojo is back! I was very pleased by the snap and shine of the finished chocolates. A few bubbles here and there, but they were still very beautiful. The flavours were subtle but present. As I had leftover ganache, I used a small cookie baller to portion out the filling, then rolled it in chili and spice cocoa. All in all, this was a very successful batch of chocolates, but not exactly what I was aiming for.
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