A good friend of mine is an avid chess player and during one of our games I got the idea for an edible chess set. Every time you capture a piece munch munch nom nom nom.
I found some places that sell chess piece chocolate moulds and there's another instructable that shows how to make one. But personally I LOVE chocolate covered fruit - raspberries, strawberries, cherries are the best. Plus I wanted to make both the pieces and the board from chocolate.
So I bought some ingredients, made a big mess in the kitchen, and produced the world's yummiest chess set as a Christmas gift for him.
Step 1: Chocolate! Vitamin Ch - an Essential Nutrient
First you need some round chocolate wafers made for candy making and dipping. You need both white chocolate and dark for the white and black chess pieces. I bought 2 12 oz or 340 gm packages of each flavor but actually needed only 1.
You'll also need white and dark chocolate squares for the chess board. There are lots of different assortments available. Look for the ones that have 33 pieces in a package. This works out perfectly since an 8x8 chess board needs 32 squares of each color and I know you're going to eat one.
I only found one flavor available for the white squares but the dark squares had several. I could not make up my mind so got the assortment. It works out perfectly since there are 4 flavors and 8 pieces of each flavor. So you can make each side have symmetric ranks of identical flavors.
Handle the squares (especially the white ones) delicately. They break easily.
Step 2: Fruit
- 4 Blueberries
- 8 Seedless grapes - I got red ones but you can use any variety
- 2 Cherries
- 1 Apple - In retrospect the Fuji I used was a little small so get a bigger one than what's pictured
- 1 Orange - This California Naval orange was a little too big so try to get a slightly smaller one
- 1 Box of Strawberries
- 1 Box of Raspberries - You could substitute blackberries if you want
Ideally get these in the summer when they are in season. Since I made this at Christmas time the fruit was a little less than stellar. But it was still very good.
A few extra pieces of fruit are nice in case you mess up or "accidentally" eat one.
Step 3: Tools
You'll need a few things from the kitchen and some from the workshop.
- 2 Medium size drinking glasses - I used 10 oz or 300ml size
- Wooden Shish Kabob skewers - Not too long, about 6 inches or 15 cm is fine. Mine were longer so I cut them with wire cutters. Don't just break them off since that can make wood splinters.
- A "third hand" type of jig to hold the pieces upright while the chocolate solidifies. This isn't strictly necessary if you have a steady hand and patience but I found it makes the job a lot easier.
- Paper towels
- Wax paper to cover the countertop and later to wrap the finished pieces
- Microwave oven
Step 4: Knights of the Round Orange Table
Carefully peel the orange and separate the slices. Select 4 slices that are reasonable size, don't have seeds, and preferably don't have any punctures or tears in the skin. These will become the knights, 2 black and 2 white.
Step 5: Your Kitchen Is Your Castle
Peel the apple, cut it into quarters, cut away the core, and then carve each quarter into a castle like shape. These will become the rooks.
I just made them roughly hexagonal but you could get creative and carve them in more detail to look like rooks. But don't bother with super fine details though since they will get covered in chocolate.
These turned out a little small and fragile so I recommend making them bigger than shown here.
For all the fruit carving make sure the cuts are precise. The end cut needs to be square so the piece can stand up on end without toppling over. This is structural carving, not just chopping up fruit.
Step 6: Delicious Red Royalty
For the kings and queens carve up some strawberries. Cut a cone shape off the top removing the stem and cut the bottom flat. Make sure the cut is square. Try to match up similar sized berries and cut their bases to the same shape so they stack well.
Kings get 2 stacked strawberries and a cherry on top. Queens get 2 stacked strawberries and a blueberry on top.
Test fit your pieces and make sure they won't topple.
Most chess sets include an extra pair of queens in case of pawn promotion. So make 2 kings and 4 queens. And this picture shows I made an extra in case I got hungry.
Step 7: Lowly, Under Appreciated, Raspberry Pawns
Gather up 16 (at least) raspberries to use as pawns. Pass over the smaller berries that have not yet grown enough to enroll in the army as a pawn.
Next take every piece of fruit and roll them around on paper towels to dry them thoroughly. Chocolate won't adhere to the fruit if it's wet so you want the outside surfaces of these pieces dry. The sliced apple in particular needs to be dried a few times since moisture inside the fruit will migrate out to the surface.
Step 8: Assemble Your Armies
Now that the pieces are dried it's time to assemble them.
- Stack 2 grapes to make bishops and skewer them to hold them together.
- Stack the strawberries and blueberries for the queens and skewer them.
- Stack only the strawberries for the kings; the cherry will be added in a separate step since you can't skewer it through the pit.
- Skewer the rooks (apples) down the center.
- Skewer the knights (orange slices) at a slight angle so the horse's "mane" is upright.
- Pawns (raspberries) are too small for skewers so I used 2 toothpicks at an angle.
Make sure the skewers do not extend below the bottoms of the pieces.
Step 9: Each Piece Must Now Don Their Armor
Time to cover each piece in chocolate. I recommend doing the dark chocolate first since it's a little easier to work with.
Cover the battlefield (your kitchen counter) with wax paper.
Open the package of wafers and set aside about 20 of them. These will be used as the pedestal base for each piece. Set a few of them down on the wax paper on the far side away from you.
Then put as many wafers as will fit into a glass. Place the glass in a microwave oven and follow the instructions on the package to gradually melt it using half power. Take your time and monitor it carefully since a misstep here could burn the chocolate and ruin the taste. Stir frequently with a spoon to remove lumps.
After the wafers have melted into liquid chocolate add more wafers to the glass and melt again. Repeat until the glass is almost full or you run out of wafers.
Start by making a pawn or two for practice. Grab the raspberry by the toothpicks and dip it into the glass full of chocolate. Pull it out and quickly move it over one of the wafers and set it down onto the wafer. After the chocolate has hardened some remove the toothpicks. Then use a skewer to dab a bit of chocolate onto the holes left by the toothpicks to seal them.
Step 10: Fill in the Ranks
Now that you have the knack of it move on to dip the tallest pieces, the queens. You need to do the tall ones early while the level of chocolate in the glass is high enough to cover the piece. As you use up the chocolate you'll only be able to do shorter pieces.
Do the queens first. Dip the whole thing, both strawberries and blueberry, handling it by the skewer. Move it quickly to a wafer base. Hold it steady, centered, and upright. Using your other hand set up the third hand jig to grab the skewer and hold it there until the chocolate solidifies.
After the chocolate solidifies, take off the third hand, twist the skewer and remove it. Dab a bit of chocolate into the hole to seal it.
Take your time. Allow enough time for the chocolate to harden before moving on to the next piece. Don't try to rush the process. If you drop a piece or spill some chocolate no big deal. The chocolate flows well enough that a dropped piece probably won't have any bare spots. And you can always touch up any ugly spots by applying more chocolate with a skewer. When the chocolate in the glass gets too cold reheat it gently in the microwave.
For the king do the same for the strawberries but without the cherry. We'll add that later.
Do the rest of the pieces in order by descending height. You might find that some of the pieces balance well enough they don't need to be held by the third hand while they solidify. That can speed the process some.
Finish the rest of the pawns.
Finally dip the cherry into the chocolate holding it by the stem and place it on top of the king. If the king is well balanced you should not need the third hand jig to hold the cherry in place.
CAUTION! Remember you are doing only half of the pieces! Don't get carried away and make extra black pieces using up the fruit needed for the white ones.
Step 11: For This White Goes Second
Then pause to clean up a bit and repeat the whole thing with white chocolate.
I found the white is a little less strong and breaks more easily. So it's more important to hold pieces steady while they cool.
I also found white chocolate didn't go as far. I used up one whole package and nearly ran out. But I had enough dark chocolate left over to make a candy bar.
And I burned a small bit of it while reheating a tiny amount left in the bottom of the glass.
Allow everything to cool and harden. Check all pieces for any gaps or holes and fill them if needed. Trim off any excess or spilled chocolate.
Finally gently wrap each piece in wax paper and prepare for delivery.
Step 12: Don't Neglect the Presentation
I told him I'd made his Christmas present myself and it would be in 3 parts requiring some assembly. That got his curiosity.
Parts 1 and 2 were the chocolate squares. Here's he's trying to look sincerely appreciative of receiving so much chocolate for a Christmas present since he actually doesn't eat much candy.
Digging into part 3. What are all these funny chocolate shapes?
Hint there are 64 squares, half white and half black.
And the funny shapes are white and black.
Step 13: Now He's Got It
We quickly unwrap all the squares and lay out the board.
Then unwrap all the pieces and set them up.
Step 14: Now for the Most Difficult Part of This Whole Instructable
Up until now, it's been easy. Now I have to play him.
He's a very strong player and I'm nervous.
He takes one of my pawns. "Do I get to eat it?" Of course.
"OH MY GOSH THIS IS GOOD!"
Maybe after he captures enough of my pieces he'll go into a sugar coma and I might stand a chance in this game.
Later he mutters, "Do I want to eat or win?"
Eat of course! You're a young man and you need sugar to grow up big and strong. And maybe it will give me a chance. Now I'm down a knight.
But wait! Through some sheer dumb luck I can fork his queen! I can put my other knight there, get him in check, and leave his queen vulnerable! I can't believe it! Oh this strawberry is going to taste so good!
I make the move and he points out that if I do that he has checkmate in the next move. He allows me to take it back. Oh well.
Of course I ended up losing to him. And neither of us could eat much more candy so it went to the refrigerator for another day.
Step 15: Thanks for Reading
Hope you enjoyed my instructable.
I have a few others I'm planning to write up someday.
Please leave comments! I love comments!
And please vote if you like it.