What are you doing for Valentine’s Day this year? Are you going out to dinner and a movie with your sweetheart? Or maybe your style is more like going camping for the weekend with your significant other? Maybe instead of doing something with your partner, you choose to spend this Valentine’s with your BFF, drinking red wine, eating popcorn, and watching Rent for the 100th time. Maybe you just want to spend V-day in solitude. Maybe you’re even going to pretend you don’t care about Valentine’s day (but going to that smoky bar and knocking back shot after shot of whiskey is not doing much for your case).
Or you could spend your Valentine’s the best way possible – taking a final exam in Algorithms! What, you’re not? C’mon. Everybody who is SOMEbody is doing it.
Okay, okay – not everybody… Just me. And my classmates.
Yes, ladies and gentlemen, instead of doing something fun for Valentine’s Day with Mr. Graceful, I will be spending Friday morning in an excruciating, three-hour battle of wits against such monstrosities as the Gas Tank Problem, the Set Cover problem, the Bipartite Match problem, the 0-1 Knapsack problem, and countless other problems.
So many problems.
But at least making these yummy chocolates for Valentine’s day is not one of them!
Don’t let the appearance of these babies fool you. I myself found myself throwing up a little in my mouth at the exaggerated girly-ness of the photos as I was editing them. Hearts, chocolate, pink silicon molds and sparkles?! It was like looking at the love-child of Barbie and The Limited Too (that’s what Justice used to be, for anyone who didn’t grow up in the 90s).
But they are 1) dangerously addictive and 2) extremely easy to make.
I was originally thinking of doing something that resembled peppermint patties. As I explored the options for a base for the filing, I realized that marzipan exactly fit the profile of the texture I was aiming for.
Then I realized (or rather, remembered) that I’m crazy about marzipan, and that it would be a shame to cover just a thin patty of it with chocolate… I wanted the chocolate to be STUFFED with marzipan.
Which actually makes this recipe much easier. There is no complicated coating involved, you basically just stuff the marzipan chunks into the chocolate.
In short – I got 99 problems but these hearts ain’t one.
Minty Marzipan Filled Chocolate Hearts:
Serves: Makes 15-20 hearts (depends on the mold used)
Estimated Time: 30 minutes prep + 2 hours chill
Kosher Classification: Neutral
Music That Compliments This Dish: 99 Problems – Jay Z (warning: explicit lyrics)
200 grams almond meal
100 grams powdered sugar
2-3 tsp peppermint extract
1/4 cup water
200 grams dark chocolate
Start by making the minty marzipan.
Pulse the almond meal and powdered sugar in the food processor. Don’t over-process (7 2-second pulses should be enough). This part is optional, its purpose is to get more of the almond meal to be super-fine. We are about to sift it anyway, so if you don’t have a food processor it’s okay to skip this step (there will just be a bit less of the final product).
Sift the dry mixture through a sieve and into a bowl. The coarse pieces will remain in the sieve, while the bowl will slowly fill with soft, powdery, super-fine almond-sugar powder.
If you’re up to it, you can give the coarse pieces another run in the food processor, then sift them again.
Stir the peppermint extract into the water. If peppermint isn’t your thing, replace it with almond extract for a more traditional marzipan flavor. Add the minty water one teaspoon at a time into the fine powder. Stir thoroughly each time.
The mixture will first get clumpy, then lumpier, and eventually come together into a ball.
Once it does that, place it in the fridge and proceed to melt the chocolate.
If you want to do this properly, do it in a double-boiler (a bain-marie). If you’re daring enough (or lazy enough), just do it in a small pot over very low heat. But be warned – laziness won’t take you all the way in this case (and in many other situations, really) – you must be prepared to carefully watch the chocolate and stir it constantly to prevent it from burning. It also helps to be extremely familiar with the burners you’re using, so you know what you’re up against.
Once the chocolate is melted, set up your workstation. Take the marzipan out of the fridge and put it next to your melted chocolate and a silicon mold of your choice. Hearts were the kitsch, obvious option for the V-day theme, but you can make this in any shape. The silicon really helps because you can flip it completely inside out when extracting the chocolates later. I have yet to try this with a regular plastic ice tray.
Drop a 1/3 tablespoon of chocolate into each space in the tray.
Take a big chunk of marzipan, and push it into the chocolate.
Then drizzle some more chocolate above to cover the marzipan.
Freeze for at least two hours before serving.
Edible sparkles are totally optional. And kinda worthless unless you’re taking pictures or trying to impress someone.
- Pulse together 200 grams almond meal and 100 grams powdered sugar (optional)
- Sift the mixture through a sieve until only coarse pieces remain.
- Stir 2-3 tsp peppermint extract into 1/4 cup water
- Add the water to the dry mix one teaspoon at a time until it comes together, then place in fridge.
- Melt 200 grams dark chocolate in a double boiler.
- Drop 1/3 Tbs. melted chocolate into each space in the mold.
- Push (big) marble-sized chunks of marzipan into the chocolate.
- Drizzle with more chocolate to cover and freeze for at least 2 hours.