I don't like modeling chocolate.
Then I started to think about how 3D printers work, and I came up with this method to make a 3D chocolate tree without anything holding it up.
chocolate (I used dark)
freeze dried raspberries, optional
Temper chocolate in whatever method you prefer. Crush or shave ice and dry ice. Surprisingly, the dry ice did okay with the regular ice in our little snow cone maker. I do recommend using dry ice with the regular ice to make sure it stays cold enough.
Transfer some melted, tempered chocolate into a ziplock bag or piping bag. Scoop some ice mixture into a container, mounding it up in the middle where the trunk will be. Pipe squiggly lines, making them thicker at the center for the trunk. Spoon some more ice mixture over the roots and branches you just piped, leaving the trunk open. Pipe more branches and roots over the new layer of ice, and continue until your tree is as branched and complex as you like. Carefully remove the tree from the ice and brush away the excess ice. Use a dab of melted chocolate to attach any broken branches or roots to add stability, then sprinkle some ice mixture on the glued area to harden the chocolate.
I wanted a somewhat dramatic presentation to serve these trees, so I got some freeze dried raspberries. I broke them into little pieces and glued the little bits onto the branches with more melted chocolate.
Islands for the trees:
angel food cakes
1/2 C dark chocolate chips
2 C cream
1/2 C fresh raspberries
2 T lemon verbena infused syrup (optional)
1 t agar agar powder
2 T powdered sugar
handful freeze dried raspberries
Trim angel food cakes to fit into oversized muffin tins. Melt chocolate chips with fresh raspberries and 1/2 C cream. Stir until smooth, cool, add another 1/2 C cream and whip until slightly fluffy and thickened. Spoon chocolate mixture into the holes in the angel food cakes. Cover the cakes in the pan with raspberry sorbet, and keep pan in freezer until ready to plate desserts.
If you really want the hassle of making lemon verbena syrup, simmer 1 part fresh lemon verbena leaves with 1 part water and 2 parts sugar, then let sit overnight and strain.
Whip 1 C cream with 1 t agar agar powder, infused syrup (if using) and 2 T powdered sugar.
Crumble the freeze dried raspberries and force through a fine sieve to get raspberry powder.
1 C cream
1 T sugar
1/4 C fresh raspberries
1 t vanilla
Heat cream with sugar, vanilla, and raspberries until warm. Blend thoroughly.
Plating the trees:
Slide a knife around the sorbet topped cakes in the muffin tin, then carefully unmold them. Place a cake in an individual serving bowl, sorbet side down. Pipe whipped cream over the island, sprinkle with raspberry powder, then carefully place the chocolate tree on top.
Crush some dry ice in a towel. Spoon some dry ice powder into the bowl around the island. Pour the warm raspberry moat over the dry ice. Eat the dessert.
If you REALLY can't handle that much chocolate for dessert (but what's wrong with you?), you can use a few branches instead of a whole tree.