For Xmas last year, my better half surprised me with a spunky turquoise ice tray produced by ironic home goods designer FRED, inspired by the Taito arcade classic that we know and love. Space Invaders! After the novelty and enjoyment of freezing water, juices, coffee, and regular old liquids wore off, I set my sites on putting this gift to a higher purpose.
That's right, after a few test runs and brushing up on some elementary chocolate making theory, I was able to pull off in time for V-day the perfect display of geek love - a chocolate 8-bit sprite.
Step 1: Tools and Ingredients
First and foremost, one needs to acquire a mold. I opted to use the Ice Invaders ice tray, but really any flexible silicone mold/tray could be used to shape chocolates. You could even use a clear plastic candy mold, but in my opinion silicone are more durable and easier to work with.
If you do plan on going the space invader route, you could try to find one locally or online. We bought ours in Japan, but I have seen them available on Amazon or at ThinkGeek (naturally). The downside of these is that they are on the small side so if you're going to make lots of chocolates you might need to pick up more than one to speed things along (there are 24 molds in each tray). Moreover, they don't match the original Space Invaders sprite to the pixel, but they do get the point across rather well.
And if you're wondering, I'm not affiliated with either site above or the manufacturer, FRED. I do appreciate the sense of humor they bring to their product design though, and consider this a quality product.
1) Chocolate - For this 'ible I went with a Japanese dark chocolate that was available, but any type will work. Milk, Dark, White - go with your personal preference. Remember, better quality chocolates will make for a better tasting Space Invader.
Pictured are two 58 gram chocolate bars (roughly 2oz each). To fill the entire mold I would recommend at least 3 bars of chocolate, and if you're making solid chocolates possibly 4 (8oz or 232 g)
2)Filling - For the sake of simplicity I went with solid dry ingredients: almonds and dried blueberries.
If you were to use a creme filling, caramel, cordial, or a truffle ganache it would require a bit of a different method (painting a shell and so on). Since this is my first attempt at confectionery, I thought the Invaders would be too fragile to hold up that well as a shell. I decided to stick with fillings that will provide a strong structural center. Blending in flavourings such as vanilla, sea salt, and chili pepper work well too. Get creative and adventurous.
Here you have plenty of freedom to improvise, but this is what I had to work with:
1) Cutting board (flexible is a plus)
2) Sharp kitchen knife
3) Silicone spatula (rubber is fine too)
4) Squeeze bottle (thinner spout the better) - alternatively you can use a pastry bag.
5) Stirrer (I used some disposable chopsticks)
6) Microwave (or double boiler) & microwave safe bowl (ceramic is a plus as it retains heat well)
*If you have one on hand, an electric kitchen thermometer is helpful, but not really necessary.
Now that you have all of the items assembled, go find a cool dry space in your kitchen to get to work.