Daring Bakers’ August Challenge: Candylicious! Persian Pistachio Nougat, Viennese Chocolates and Black Forest Dark Chocolates

I am so excited for my first ever completed Daring Baker’s Challenge, and what a challenge it was that I immediately succumbed to it. The Daring Bakers’ August Challenge is Candylicous, where we are to make 2 types of candies; chocolate and bonbons. Special thanks to Lisa and Mandy for such a brilliant idea! That was all the encouragement I need, as it is, our house is always filled with something sweet, something chocolatey and definitely something homemade! I couldn’t decide just the two, so I splurge and indulge for something a little more..

I decided to use the polycarbonate moulds courtesy of Squires Kitchen (review will follow soon) and tried to emulate my favourite Thornton’s Viennese truffles filling with whipped dark chocolate ganache. As the recipe was really my own trial, it was really pleasing that the whipped ganache turned out as good as the real thing!  I covered the  ganache with white base and milk chocolate top, just for tad bit of fancy. They were really an extravagant hit!

Craving for a bit of variety, I took out the chocolate bar silicone moulds and made some gorgeous ‘Black Forest Bars’..these bars were adorned with biscuits and preserved cherries covered in good quality, tempered dark chocolates. I must say, making homemade chocolates is really heavenly. Tempering the chocolates was not that difficult, and reliably easy with the help of a good candy thermometer. Mastering the art of tempering, the world of exquisite chocolates is your oyster with arrays of fillings to choose from. For this challenge, I have used pralines, toasted chopped almonds, pecans, preserved cherries, dark chocolate ganache and even chilli!

Then it was time to crack on with the bonbons. I decided to try my hands on something I’ve never tried before, the Persian Pistachio Nougats. I remembered how expensive the  nougat from Neuhaus was when we bought them in Brussels recently; they did cost a bomb! Every time we wanted to indulge in  divine nougats, we would get some from the Neuhaus London branch in St Pancras but given the success of the homemade version, it would be good to keep the money in the pocket instead! The best part was, they were really easy to make. I used some edible wafer paper (rice paper) for the touch of rustic elegance.

It has been really a wonderful challenge, and I was pleased to discover such a nice way to present some homemade gifts to friends and family. After all who wouldn’t fancy a bit of candy and chocolates, eh?

Tempering the chocolates
The most important nugget of advice here is to get some good quality chocolates, as they make a big difference in the taste and texture of the outcome. Try not to use the commercial ‘chocolate coating’ as they do taste awful once tempered, trust me. I prefer Chocolat Pattisier Menier swiss chocolates for baking, which can be found at your local supermarket ( got mine from Sainsbury’s). There are few tempering methods, for this challenge I chose the bain-marie method. Place 2/3 of  your chopped chocolates in a bowl over the boiling water and once melted at temperature around 45C, add in the remaining 1/3 of the chocolates to bring the temperature down. The ideal temperature for tempered chocolates prior to use varies depending on the percentage of cocoa butter present:
  • dark chocolate 31-32 C
  • milk chocolate 29-30C
  • white chocolate 27-28C

It does help to have a candy thermometer at hand, though there are various techniques that could be used to check whether the chocolate is done without the thermometer.

Now the fun begins!

Viennese Milk-and-White Chocolate Shells with whipped dark chocolate ganache
 Own recipe, inspired by Thornton’s Viennese truffles

150g tempered milk chocolates
150g tempered milk chocolates
200 g chopped dark chocolates
1 cup double cream

Prepare the whipped ganache. Place the double cream in a heavy bottom pan and bring to boil. Add the cream into the chopped dark chocolates, mix well until chocolates are fully melted. Keep the ganache in the freezer for about an hour. 
After an hour, take out the ganache, and let it warm slightly at room temperature. Using an electric mixer, beat the ganache until the colour lightens slightly. Now the ganache is ready.
Scoop the tempered dark chocolates into chocolate moulds and turn the mould upside down to remove excess chocolate. Place mould in the freezer for 10 minutes. Once the shell has hardened, pipe the ganache as filling and pour some tempered white chocolates to form the base. Cool the chocolates in the fridge until they are set.

Black Forest Chocolate Bars
Own recipe, inspired by Cadbury Black forest bar

1 cup preserved maraschino cherries (alcohol-free version is available)-chopped
200g good quality, 70% cooca dark chocolate-tempered
1/2 cup coarsely crushed digestive biscuits

Place the biscuits and chopped cherries in the mould. Pour the tempered dark chocolate and place the mould in the fridge until the chocolates are set.

Persian Pistachio Nougat
Adapted from Good Housekeeping magazine

2 large egg whites
250g granulated sugar
150g honey
125ml water
1 tsp rose essence 
1/4 tsp cardamom powder
1 tbsp liquid glucose
1 cup toasted pistachio
a pinch of salt
Optional: Edible wafer papers

Using a freestanding mixer, beat the egg whites until soft peaks are formed. At the same time, place the sugar, honey, water, liquid glucose and salt in a heavy bottomed pan and let it simmer on medium heat until the mixture reaches 240 c on candy thermometer. 
 Keep beating the egg whites and gradually add this hot syrup until the mixture becomes really stiff.  Add the pistachios and rose essence, mix well.
 Line a rectangular baking pan with the edible wafer paper. Spoon the mixture onto the lined pan and cover with another layer of wafer paper. Place another heavy glass or plates on top and keep it in the fridge until the nougat is set, preferably overnight.
Take the nougat out of the pan and cut into squares.
Keep the nougats in an airtight container, they do last for about couple of weeks.

20 Responses to Daring Bakers’ August Challenge: Candylicious! Persian Pistachio Nougat, Viennese Chocolates and Black Forest Dark Chocolates

  1. Katie August 27, 2011 at 11:08 pm #

    Your candies look so enticing. I was particularly drawn in by their names! Beautiful photographs too!

  2. Torviewtoronto August 27, 2011 at 11:50 pm #

    These chocolates look fabulous it makes beautiful homemade gifts

  3. Deeba PAB August 28, 2011 at 1:48 am #

    I missed the challenge but you tempt me to try soon. What an enviable spread Jehanne, and so very creative! Well done indeed!!

  4. Neha August 28, 2011 at 4:54 am #

    Awesome post…The pics are wonderful……

  5. Vidhya August 28, 2011 at 5:29 am #

    Candies look so delectable. Beautiful clicks too.Thanks for stopping by my space.

  6. Vimitha Anand August 28, 2011 at 8:09 am #

    Yummy array of chocolates dear…

  7. Renata August 28, 2011 at 12:37 pm #

    Wow! Your chocolates are sophisticated and your photos are gorgeous! Love your choice of flavors.
    Thanks for visiting my blog :)

  8. Kalyan August 28, 2011 at 3:46 pm #

    This one looks so easy to make and mouth-watering…delicious!

  9. Ruth Ellis August 28, 2011 at 7:50 pm #

    Your nougat looks amazing. I’m a big nougat fan, but have been too scared in the past to give it a shot – you’ve proved that it can be done tho, so it’s going on my recipe hit list!

  10. cookingvarieties August 28, 2011 at 9:44 pm #

    hi jehanne, like i must say all the images look so beautiful and delicious.. this is a real challenge, count me out, i have not started baking yet :))))

  11. Jehanne August 28, 2011 at 11:01 pm #

    My warmest welcome to Katie, Vidhya, Renata,Kalyan and Ruth-keep popping by and thanks a lot for the compliments!

    Deeba and Wan-join in the challenge, would love to see some candies from you!

    Thnx for the sweet words Neha, Akeela and Vimitha:-)

  12. Gayathri Ramdas Sreekanth August 29, 2011 at 8:14 am #

    Wow..these are brilliant Jehanne !! So professional.. For a moment I thought you wanted to share pictures of store bought chocolates ! :) Great stuff..

  13. MandyM August 29, 2011 at 9:33 am #

    I’m glad the seeding method worked for you! Your chocolate bonbons & bars look beautifully tempered.
    I’m a sucker for Squires Kitchen, I order from them regularly and am always so excited when my orders are delivered. They’re a fantastic resource for anything chocolate related.
    Also, welcome to the Daring Bakers!
    Thank you for taking part in the challenge, you did a great job :)

  14. aipi August 29, 2011 at 4:00 pm #

    Wow! You did an amazing job on this challenge. Looks professional ~ beautiful pictures to go with the beautiful treats. Impressed!
    US Masala

  15. Rebecca from Chow and Chatter August 29, 2011 at 4:31 pm #

    wow your chocolates look amazing love then Thorntons ones so cool yep trying to sleep but he is on my bladder now 4 days late we have a three yr old so now revisiting those sleepness nights he he congrats on being a new mum

  16. Jehanne August 30, 2011 at 1:09 am #

    Gayathri: What a lovely compliment, I’m all pink now:-)
    Aipi: Thank you dear! Your comment really made my day!
    Rebecca: Thorntons are nice stuff isnt it, can you get them in America? Hope the baby’s coming soon…!

  17. Rosa's Yummy Yums September 1, 2011 at 1:37 pm #

    Very well done! Everything looks amazing. I particularly love the nougat.



  18. lisamichele September 2, 2011 at 4:45 am #

    Oh my..I thought I’d let a comment here! Your chocolates and nougat are gorgeous!! You got such a beautiful temper too! I would love to make the nougat and dip it in tempered chocolate! Also – stunning photos! Thanks so much for taking part in our challenge!

  19. tata September 4, 2011 at 5:41 pm #

    Love to taste semua tu jan..bile yek??

  20. cookingvarieties September 6, 2011 at 3:25 am #

    hi jehanne, this is simply so delicious looking. great recipes and great photos..bookmarked and thanks for sharing.. looks like you got plenty of wonderful recipes to try out..

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