Introduction: Chocolate Chess Set
What better way to play chess than to actually eat your opponent's captured pieces! Now you can--provided you have a chocolate chess set. In this instructable, I'll show you how easy it is to make your own chocolate chess set. Imagine the look on a child's face when you teach them to play chess with chocolate! And you will be the Willy Wonka of the chess world when you present an avid player with their very own chocolate chess set for their birthday.
I teach at an after school elementary chess club and I've been making these 3D chocolate chess pieces for our end-of-year parties. I usually put the chess pieces on top of vanilla and chocolate cupcakes on a giant chess display board and tease the kids to play a game with me. For our first end of school year party, I made flat two dimensional chess pieces by "painting" the chocolate on acetate and parchment paper. The next year I wanted to make 3D chocolate chess pieces, and was getting ready to mold my own plastic chess set into FDA-approved silicone putty molds, when I stumbled upon this chocolate mold set online. I immediately bought it (and 2 others) and began churning out 72 chocolate chess pieces for all the kids in the club to have one.
Step 1: Materials List
You will need:
Chocolate chess pieces mold (available online or in specialty cake supply shops)
12 oz White candy melts (they come in 12 oz bag)
12 oz Black candy melts (they come in 10 oz bags)
Plastic piping bags or plastic squeeze bottles
Small paring knife (not pictured)
Pair of white cotton gloves--you'll thank me later on this one!
You will NOT need:
Anything to grease the mold--the chocolate will pop easily out of a clean, *dry* mold.
(Water can make chocolate seize, so be sure to have everything dry.)
Step 2: Melting the Chocolate
Put a large handful of candy melts into the plastic piping bag or the plastic sqeeze bottle. (I like to place mine on a kitchen towel to keep the plastic bag from melting on the hot glass turntable after a few rounds of microwaving). Only microwave for 30 seconds at a time and remove after each 30 second session and squeeze bag/container with your hand until thoroughly mixed. You don't want to overheat the chocolate and have it seize in the containers. The chocolate will scorch if heated too hot and turn into a hard lump of chocolate that is unusable. Squeezing the bag after each interval will mix up the hot spots with the cool spots and keep it more evenly melted. Keep microwaving until chocolate is completely fluid, maybe even cutting down the time in the microwave to 15 seconds for the last lump of chocolate bits and then massaging the bag really well.
Step 3: Molding the Chocolate Pieces
Fill the chess mold with your chocolate. Do not fill past the edges of the reservoirs or you will give yourself more work later cleaning up the seams when joining the two halves together. Air bubbles will have formed inside the chocolate piece so you will need to lightly tap the mold on the table several times until you see the bubbles rise to the surface. You can then pop the bubbles with a toothpick. Tapping the mold on the table also helps to level the liquid chocolate in the pieces, so it is a good thing to do it after filling each reservoir before the chocolate hardens at room temperature. After all the reservoirs are filled, you can place the mold in the refrigerator for a few minutes to harden up the pieces. Since the melted chocolate isn't too hot to begin with, it will harden rather quickly--maybe even hardening in the piping bag before you are done filling the mold. When that happens, pop the bag or bottle back into the microwave to remelt for 30 seconds again.
Step 4: Unmolding Pieces and Attaching the Halves
After the pieces are hard, you can remove them from the refrigerator and unmold them. I would recommend using your hand as a brace until you can gently place the mold upside down on the table, or the fragile pieces will fall to their untimely doom. For the more stubborn pieces, gentle pressure from your fingers should pop them from their plastic form. Cotton gloves are recommend at this point since the warm body temperature of your hands will easily melt fingerprints into the sides of the pieces.
There are two ways to attach the halves together to make a whole chess piece.
1) Use melted chocolate as a "glue" to attach the two halves together. Hold halves together until pieces are stuck together.
2) Take a cold harden half and place it on top of the still liquid match in the mold before you place it in the refrigerator to cool.
I've done both ways and prefer the sandwiching the two hardened halves together with melted chocolate. I tend to have less to clean up on the seams later than when I have to perfectly float a piece of hard chocolate on the liquid chocolate and hope it doesn't slide off before I get it to the refrigerator. But you may find that it works better for you.
Step 5: Cleaning Up the Seams
Using a sharp paring or exacto knife, cut the hardened chocolate seams flush with the piece. Sometimes I will even "buff" out a seam with my finger if it is not too big or to fill in a small gap between the edges.
Step 6: Completed Chess Set
You'll need to mold the pieces the following number of times for a complete chess set.
Rooks: 4 white halves for two complete pieces and 4 black halves for two complete pieces
Knights: 4 white halves for two complete pieces and 4 black halves for two complete pieces
Bishops: 4 white halves for two complete pieces and 4 black halves for two complete pieces
Queen: 2 white halves for one complete piece and 2 black halves for one complete piece
King: 2 white halves for one complete pieces and 2 black halves for one complete piece
Pawns: 16 white halves for eight complete pieces and 16 black halves for eight complete pieces
But of course it is always wise to mold a few extra halves to account for breakage that might occur when unmolding the pieces or squeezing the two halves together too tight. You can always throw the broken pieces back into the bag/bottle to remelt the chocolate.