Somewhere, Santa’s Elves are laughing…

There is probably an equation or law of physics somewhere that states that the difficulty of any given task is directly proportionate to the amount of arrogance or naivety of someone proclaiming, “How hard could it be?”

Let me start by saying, I’m no Julia Child. I’m not even close. I can follow a recipe and make passable dinners, but I’m really not a gourmet. However, I do consider myself frugal; in an attempt to both save money and give from the heart, many years I make Peanut Butter Balls and Chocolate Chip cookies to send/give out as Christmas gifts.  So far, my family and friends have loved it and I’ve had no complaints.  I usually borrow my mother’s double-boiler to melt the chocolate for the Peanut Butter Balls.

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This year, I wasn’t able to borrow her double-boiler, so I improvised and used a saucepan with a smaller pan to fit on top.  It was practically the same thing anyway, so how hard could it be? Right?  THIS year, I learned about something called “seizing”.  Some of you are probably nodding your heads in sympathy, but for those of you who don’t know:

  • If you overheat your chocolate, it will seize.
  • If you get a droplet of water or steam in the chocolate as it’s melting, it will seize. Seizing turns your chocolate into the consistency of wet sand. This makes it unsuitable for dipping, and only (possibly) good for brownies, cakes (or chocolate sand-castles you could maybe leave on a plate for Santa) or more likely, the trash. 😦  You can attempt to save it by adding a little bit of cooking oil or butter  (less is more: add a tiny bit at a time while stirring continuously) — sometimes it will smooth it out enough. Mine, alas, was too far gone, even for Santa sand castles. First ($$) lesson learned.

So, I finally got the milk-chocolate melted exactly right and finished dipping the Peanut Butter Balls and decided to dip pretzels. What a great idea! The milk-chocolate-covered pretzels turned out lovely!

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I still had half a bag of pretzels left over, so I thought I would get some white chocolate and dip the rest of them in that! Easy, right?  I mean, sure, white chocolate tastes different than milk chocolate, but it’s still chocolate. How hard could it be?  You’d think I would have learned the first time, but after having overcome the seizing problem, I was brimming with confidence!

Well, guess what? White chocolate isn’t really even chocolate! *Gasp* I know! Crazy, huh?  It’s actually made of different ingredients and doesn’t contain chocolate solids at all! It also has a lower melting point than milk or dark chocolate, so it burns more easily. It’s harder to melt to a dipping consistency. You have to stir it A LOT more often. My first attempt was too thick:

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My second attempt (after using a bit of cooking oil that I had learned from my experience with the milk-chocolate) was too thin:

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By now I felt like Goldilocks, and decided that rather than labeling my third attempt “Just Right”,  I would call it “As Good As It’s Going To Get This Year”.

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You’re aiming for a consistency of something like pancake batter without the lumps:

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Second ($$) Lesson learned.  Oh, and I also learned that rather than dealing with bags of chocolate chips and trying to melt them, there is such a thing as “Melting Chocolate”, specifically made for dipping stuff.  /facepalm.  Somewhere, Santa’s Elves are laughing. The white chocolate pretzels may not look pretty, but they taste delicious (I tried them, just to make sure). elf

Well, I’m off to put the finishing touches on my “homecooked goodie bag” Christmas gifts. Maybe they’ll be so thrilled with the Peanut Butter Balls that they won’t even notice how sad my white-chocolate pretzels look. And maybe next year I’ll just buy gift cards.

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About dragonkatet

Regarding the blog name, Dragon’s Dreams ~ The name comes from my love-affairs with both Dragons and Dreams (capital Ds). It’s another extension of who I am, a facet for expression; a place and way to reach other like-minded, creative individuals. I post poetry and images that fascinate or move me, because that’s my favorite way to view the world. I post about things important to me and the world in which we live, try to champion extra important political, societal and environmental issues, etc. Sometimes I wax philosophical, because it’s also a place where I always seem to learn about myself, too, by interacting with some of the brightest minds, souls and hearts out there. It’s all about ‘connection(s)’ and I don’t mean “net-working” with people for personal gain, but rather, the expansion of the 4 L’s: Light, Love, Laughter, Learning.
This entry was posted in Candy, Chocolate, Christmas, Cooking, Food, Food For Thought, Frustration, Holidays, Home-made Gifts, Inspiration, Life. Bookmark the permalink.

9 Responses to Somewhere, Santa’s Elves are laughing…

  1. eebrinker says:

    only thing i might bake is some nut bread…..if its any consolation i have never once owned a double boiler nor made candy ANYTHING. so you are miles ahead of me….. 🙂

    • dragonkatet says:

      Thanks, E. I’m not that good with breads, although I love to eat it! It’s a learning process. I figure if I ever decide to do it again, I’ll know better next time. 😉

      • eebrinker says:

        i appreciate it, will help if i ever go to make something with melted chocolate. keep telling myself i’ll get into cooking and baking more, but hasn’t happened yet!

      • dragonkatet says:

        Just as an FYI, if you ever DO decide to do anything with melted chocolate, from what I can tell, the “melting chocolate” doesn’t taste as good as the real thing (i.e. chips) but it’s probably a lot easier. Trade off, I guess. It’s time intensive…but when you have more time than money for the holidays, it’s a nice gift. 🙂

      • eebrinker says:

        i agree, as well as tasting good they look good!

  2. Jo Bryant says:

    thank you for this…I needed a good laugh

  3. dragonkatet says:

    Heh heh, glad you enjoyed it, Jo. 😉

  4. Love this, Corina! Glad I’m not the only one whose home~made gifts don’t turn out as expected!! 🙂

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