So a number of years ago, there was a girls-ask-guys dance. I figured whoever asked me should get something nice in return. My logical brain got thinking: ladies like chocolate. Ladies also like flowers. Therefore, they must like chocolate flowers. There wasn't much around at that time of the year (November), and being a poor but creative student I had the idea to make a chocolate rose. After doing it for a few years, it has become a tradition. This year, however, I didn't make it for the usual girls-ask-guys dance, as I was dating someone. Now Valentine's day is creeping up, so I figured I'd bust out a chocolate rose to impress the potential future Mrs. Baconsandwich.
(This is from a few years ago, but general results are similar)
Since the tradition has done me well over the years, I figure perhaps it is time to pass on the ways of the chocolate rose to you wonderful folks. The following contains images from a few different years, but gives a better idea of what is necessary.
Here's a list of things you will need:
- 2 lb white chocolate (dipping wafers work well)
- 2 lb semi-sweet chocolate chips (or again, milk or dark chocolate dipping wafers also work)
- 1 set of wood chisels
- 1 cookie sheet
- Pair of scissors and an exacto knife
- Tape or a stapler
- 1 cerial box
- Wax paper
- Aluminum foil
- 1 piece of corrugated cardboard
- Food coloring (red or green works best)
- Shredded coconut (1/2 lb or so should be fine, for garnish)
- Various other kitchen implements (a metal bowl or small pot, butter knife, spoon, etc.)
Step 1: Make a box. Then make another box.
First, you will need to make a mold for all that white chocolate. The easiest way to do this is to make a small cardboard box using the cerial box. You'll need to cut something like this:
... except without the top. I generally make my box about 3"x3"x5" tall. It really depends how big of a rose you want to make, and how tall you want it.
Once you've got your box put together, you'll need to line it with wax paper. One way of doing this is to just wedge a bunch in there, making a little pocket. If you do this, you'll need to be careful to make sure that no folds of wax paper poke into the middle of the box, as you'll be filling the middle of the box with chocolate. The other way to do this is to make another box - this time out of the wax paper, and drop it into the cardboard box. The reason for the wax paper is that it seems to hold in chocolate better than thin cardboard. If you aren't careful, you'll end up with chocolate pouring out all of the seams, and it won't work. The wax paper helps preventing that.
Step 2: Melt the chocolate.
If you've got a double boiler, great. If not, don't worry about it. Put some water in the bottom of a pot, and put it on medium heat. Place the metal bowl on top of the pot of water, and dump your white chocolate into the bowl. Eventually the chocolate should begin to melt. Once it has fully melted, dump it into the wax paper lined box you made in step 1. (If you don't have a pot, or are lazy, you could probably melt it in the microwave, but if you do this, be warned: you can burn stuff pretty easily, so make sure to use small increments of time, and stir it well between rounds in the microwave. The other option is melt it directly in a pot on the stove, but this carries the risk of overheating the chocolate). Tap the outside of the box with the handle-side of a butter knife to help get any bubbles out of the chocolate. Getting rid of bubbles now helps the carving later on.
Once you've got the white chocolate melted, melt the dark chocolate in the same way. On a cookiesheet, lay out several chopsticks in parallel lines, leaving about a chopstick or two width between them. If necessary, tape them down to the cookie sheet so they don't move around. Cover the whole thing in wax paper, and crease it along the chopsticks, leaving a nice groove you can fill with chocolate. Pour the dark chocolate over the cookie sheet, filling the grooves, and leaving a nice big patch of chocolate off to the side. (You'll need this to carve the leaves and thorns from).
Step 3: Wait.
It takes a surprisingly long time for a big chocolate cube to cool down. Don't rush it. Leave it overnight, if necessary. I can't say if putting it in the fridge is a good idea or not. I'd generally just let it cool at room temperature.
Step 4: Bust out the carving chisels
Here's where the fun begins. Peel off the outside layer of cardboard and wax paper from the white chocolate cube. Your mission is to turn that big white block into a rose. Oh, and before you begin carving: make sure your chisels are clean. Wash and dry them, if you haven't done so already. If you've got some carving experience, this is going to be fun. If you haven't carved a thing in your life, this might take some practice. I might recommend making a few of the chocolate cubes, just to practice with so that the final one will be uber-awesome.
Step 4.1: Make the block round.
Start by rounding off the corners of the block, and tapering it to a bit of a cone, like this. Take it slow - there's no need to rush things.
Step 4.2: Keep rounding the block...
...and make it a bit pointier on one end, like this:
At this point you may also want to mark off where you want the very outside layer of petals to come out. I've made my mark about 2/3rds of the way up the block. (The pointed end will be attached to the stem, and the other end will be where the petals unfold). It's just above this mark where the widest petals will be. The others will taper in towards the middle of the top. Pull up some google images of roses for reference pictures.
Step 4.3: Start making petals
Now you can start figuring out where you want the petals to appear. Round the top edge, and put some marks in along the top on where you want the partial-circular petals to appear. It should look something like this:
(This doesn't show the top, but I've got them marked out. They are progressively smaller towards the center of the rose).
Step 4.4: Keep working the petals
Keep shaping away the petals, slowly defining them more and more. Here's a few more pics of the process:
Don't worry about making the petals thin at this point - just decide where you want them, and what the general shape is going to be.
Step 4.5: Refine the petals
Continue to work away at the petals, slowly thinning them out. Be careful! They can break off pretty easily. If they do, you can always rework things. Remember: nobody sees these intermediate steps, only the final product. Take it slow - this is the part you probably want to mess up the least. Also, when working with the chocolate, if it starts to melt to your hands, put it in the fridge to cool down, take a break, and clean off your hands, otherwise you'll end up with big thumb/finger prints all over it. (They can be shaved off, but it gets worse the warmer the whole block gets).
By the time you are done working the petals, it'll look something like this:
Again, it depends how thin you want to make the petals. If you want to go thinner, you can, but remember: the thinner they are, the easier they break, and the harder it will be to put it all together.
Step 4.6: Stem, leaves, and thorns.
Remember that dark/semi-sweet chocolate slab with the chopsticks you poured? Now you are going to use it. Flip the mess upside down and peel off the wax paper. This should let you see where the big grooves are left from the chopsticks. The stem is by far the most difficult part of the whole process - don't underestimate it! You'll basically be cutting a long, thin piece of chocolate to make the stem. It might take a few attempts. If all else fails, you can 'glue' together a broken stem using some heated up chocolate, but it doesn't look as nice. If you thought you were careful before, be even more so now. Your stem should look like this:
(The stem is half off the cookie sheet, one end pointed at the towel and the other end in the white shavings).
From the rest of the chocolate sheet, you'll need to carve a few leaves, little pieces to act as thorns, and a few bits to fit around the base of the white rose. (Again, a few reference pictures from Coogle images can help here). You'll 'glue' them on with some melted chocolate in the next step. The other kind of chocolate might behave differently, so play around a bit with it.
Step 5: Put it all together
Now comes the time to put everything together. This might take an extra pair of hands, and a few random kitchen objects. In a small pot (or double-boiler), melt down most of the bits of dark chocolate that you didn't use. Once it is melted, let it cool down almost to the point where it starts to solidify. Flip the white part of the rose so the rounded stem end points up. (Cover most of the white part in foil, if desired - it'll make cleaning things up later on easier). If necessary, brace it in place with a towel, play dough, or whatever you have handy to make sure it stays pointing up. Dip one end of the stem in the chocolate, and attach it to the white rose. Use your fingers, and mush some more chocolate around it, making the connection nice and thick. (Again, this is where it is nice to have thick, almost cooled down chocolate as opposed to freshly melted). While the chocolate you just mushed around is still soft, put in the other dark petals that go around the base of the rose. Hold on to everything until it is cooled enough that you can flip it on its side. Once the rose and stem is resting on its side, reheat the cooled down chocolate, and 'glue' the leaves on. Again, it might take some propping up of things to get it to be the shape you want. Do whatever it takes, and make your joints nice and thick so they will hold up on their own. Add thorns wherever you want. (Sometimes the odd shavings make good thorn shapes).
In my case, I had a few 'salad wrenches' to hold up the stem so I could let the leaves droop:
Once everything is cooled down, avoid touching it. It's quite fragile. If you covered the white part of the rose in foil, peel it off once everything has cooled down.
Step 6: The bed.
In a plastic container, combine the coconut and your desired color of food coloring (I usually go for green, as it looks like grass). Put it together and shake it. Add more coloring if you want it to be a richer color. Melt the remaining shavings of white chocolate (all the stuff you carved off the solid block, if you haven't eaten it already). Take the piece of corrugated cardboard and wrap it in aluminum foil to make it look nice, then pour the melted white chocolate, and smooth it out over the foil. Sprinkle the colored coconut all over the melted chocolate. Once it is cool, you can shake the excess coconut off.
Once your bed of grass (or red coconut) is cooled down, put your rose on it.
Congratulations! You've made one awesome, homemade chocolate rose! From personal experience, things like this can't really be bought, and it shows that you not only put a bit of thought, but also a lot of work into something for your special someone.