Baby, it's cold outside! During these frozen and dark days, the warmth of the kitchen beckons more strongly than ever. Here at Theo, we’ve been heeding its call and have come up with a few simple and creative ideas that we hope will bring a festive glow to your own kitchen this holiday season. With little more than a bowl full of melted chocolate, we'll show you how you can make tasty and unique chocolate-kissed treats. What's more, we've designed these gift ideas with children in mind, so the whole family can take part (and the results make excellent afternoon treats, to boot).
What better time of year to gather around your kitchen table and create edible gifts to share with your loved ones? Fire up your favorite holiday tunes and let's get dipping!
Chocolate for Dipping and Drizzling
Chocolate can be intimidating to work with, but it need not be. If you want to get technical, you can find instructions on our website for tempering chocolate, which will give it that sharp, professional sheen. However, a small amount of tempered chocolate is difficult to hold in temper, and we've found that with just a little attention and a bit of coconut oil, you can create a very similar result. Here, we'll show you how, and then we'll talk about what to do with that lovely liquid chocolate.
- 3-4 3oz Theo bars of your choice (Gingerbread Spice or Peppermint Stick Holiday bars perhaps?)
- 1-2 tsp coconut oil
- Break or chop the bars into small pieces.
- Place in a small microwave-proof bowl and microwave in 30-45 second increments, stirring well after each. The goal is to melt the chocolate without it becoming very hot, so be patient and take your time.
- Once the chocolate is fully melted (this should take approximately 2 minutes total), add a small spoonful of coconut oil and stir until it is no longer visible.
- Check the temperature of your chocolate. You can do this with a kitchen thermometer or by using your own sensory skills: dip a fingertip into the chocolate and touch it to your lip. If it feels warm, it is not yet ready for use. But if it feels neutral or even a touch cool, you are good to go. On a thermometer, you want it to register somewhere between 90 and 99ºF. The closer to 90ºF the chocolate is, the nicer it will look once it dries. If it is too warm, simply set it aside for several minutes while you prepare your dipping items or popcorn and check again.
The list of edibles that benefit from a generous coating of chocolate is endless. The following are a few simple suggestions to get you going:
- Dried apricots, dried mango slices, dried banana slices
- Coins of crystallized ginger
- Breadsticks and pretzels
- Shortbread cookies or gingersnaps
- Graham crackers
Get to Dipping!
Line one or two cookie sheets with parchment paper and place on your kitchen table. Place the bowl of prepared chocolate out on the table and put the items for dipping beside it. One by one, dip the items roughly halfway (or as desired) in the chocolate and allow the excess to fall back into the bowl. Gently scrape the underside of the item on the edge of the bowl (this will prevent a puddle of chocolate from forming around your finished product) and then place the item on the parchment. Continue until the chocolate is used up or until you are finished.
Place the sheets in the refrigerator (or outside) for a couple of minutes to set. Allow to sit at room temperature for at least several more hours to continue to set up more firmly before packing in gift bags or storing in sealed containers.
Warning: this is dangerously easy to make, and to eat!
- 1/2 cup popcorn kernels, freshly popped
- 1 tbsp unsalted butter, melted
- Sea salt
- Chocolate for dipping/drizzling (prepared as indicated above)
- Line a rimmed half sheet pan or similarly sized pan (roughly 12 inches by 16 inches) with parchment paper. Pour the freshly popped corn onto the pan. Drizzle the melted butter over the popcorn and sprinkle with a generous pinch of sea salt. Toss to combine, then spread evenly in the pan.
- Using a spoon that has been warmed in someone's hand, drizzle the prepared chocolate over the top of the popcorn, using a continuous motion so as to even coat the popcorn. Continue drizzling spoonfuls of chocolate over the top until it is as chocolate-covered as you desire. Sprinkle with another generous pinch of sea salt.
- Place outside in the cold or in the refrigerator to set for a couple of minutes.
- Store in sealed bags or containers. Best when eaten within several days.
- We think this popcorn is absolutely delicious in its simplicity, but if you'd like to embellish with dried cranberries, toasted nuts, or any other flavor ideas, go for it.