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Making Chocolates with Katherine Anne Confections

By Anthony Todd in Food on Jul 29, 2009 5:00PM

We’ve already raved about the tasty chocolates and caramels made by Katherine Anne Confections, and we buy them most weeks at her stand at the Daley Plaza Farmer’s Market. A few weeks ago, while biting into a chocolate-covered caramel, we realized that we had no idea how fancy chocolates were made. We thought it had something to do with milk and sugar and dipping, but the actual process (aside from what we glimpsed in the movie Chocolat) was a complete mystery. Katherine graciously allowed us into her kitchen to clear things up, and we have returned with photos.

In a mysterious, unmarked kitchen somewhere on the North Side, Katherine cooks up her tasty treats. One of the first things we noticed when we entered the kitchen was the giant box of Guittard chocolate disks. We were ready to end the photoshoot right then, and were looking around for something to distract Katherine with so we could run out with the entire box while stuffing our face. Then, we went into her storage space and saw a whole RACK of boxes of chocolate… we nearly passed out with glee.

She takes these disks, combines them with butter and other ingredients (different for each truffle) and heats them all together. After the ingredients are combined, they are refrigerated and then put into a pastry bag - this is the “ganache” or the inside part of the truffle. For a citrus truffle, she adds lemon and lime essential oils. Others she might add liqueurs or espresso. The ganache is piped out into individual portions and then rolled, by hand, into truffle-like shapes. This looked really easy when Katherine was doing it… but we made a mess of ourselves.

After the ganache is rolled, the truffles have to be dipped. Rather than tempering the chocolate by hand, Katherine uses a machine called (we can’t make this stuff up) a ChocoVision. It slowly melts the chocolate and keeps it at a constant temperature for dipping. She dipped each truffle with a quick twist of her wrist and placed it on a chocolate covered baking sheet. After the chocolates are dipped, they are topped with the appropriate topping and then set aside to harden.

Afterward, Katherine made a batch of our favorite product - and one of our favorite chocolate items ever - chocolate-covered sea salt caramels. After boiling together butter, sweetener and cream to make a giant block of caramel, she cuts them into cubes, dips them in chocolate and tops them with sea salt. Yummy.

Hungry for chocolate yet? You can order Katherine’s delightful confections on her website or visit her every Thursday at the Daley Plaza market.