What's more impressive than chocolates or flowers? Both put together! Impress your significant other by making a hand-carved chocolate rose for your next special occasion. You will need:
- White chocolate (I used white chocolate dipping buttons, available in the bulk section of our local grocery store)
- Dark chocolate (chocolate chips or dipping buttons work fine)
- Wax paper
- Thin cardboard, such a s a cereal box or beverage box
- A pair of scissors and stapler
- Carving implements (I used a beginner set of wood chisels)
- Pink food colouring
- A piece of cardboard
- Aluminum foil
Step 1: Casting and First Shaping
First, using your scissors and thin cardboard, you are going to need to make a small cardboard box. Cut a cross shaped piece of cardboard, score the bend marks, and fold it over. Either tape it or staple it together. Next, line the box with wax paper. The idea here is to create a tiny box capable of holding liquid chocolate. The wax paper helps it come off of the cardboard easier, and prevents it from soaking through and falling apart.
Once you have got your box prepared, melt down your white chocolate and pour it into the box. Let it cool. This may take some time. It is important that the entire block - right to the center - has cooled.
After the block as cooled, peel off the cardboard and wax paper. You should have a nice little block of chocolate.
Start carving by rounding off the corners of the box. (See the second image). Keep your cuts small. You don't want to get too aggressive here, or you risk cutting off too much, forcing you to re-melt and start over again.
Keep shaving away until you get a roughly cylindrical piece. Begin to taper one end, which will become the base of the rose blossom.
Step 2: Continue Shaping the Rose
On the cylinder, mark out where you want your outside petals to overlap. If it helps, do an online image search of roses to see how the pedals interact with each other. Decide now which pedals will cut under and which ones will overlap.
At this point you may have noticed your chocolate getting soft. That's fine. Go place it in the refrigerator for a few minutes to cool down. If you risk working with warm chocolate, it will stick to your hands, your tools, and won't be nearly as nice to carve. It's important to not rush the process - take your time!
Using a scoop shaped chisel, begin to angle your cuts further into the middle of the block. (See the first picture). Leave a bit of room at the top of the rose to have a few pedals sticking up. Don't worry about doing the very top of the rose until you have shaped the sides. Sometimes it is convenient to be able to place the rose bottom-side-up, and if you've already started carving the very top, you risk breaking your top pedals off.
Once you do have a good start on your sides, use smaller chisels to start carving the top. Again, plan out where you want the pedals to be, and begin to dig out the spaces between them. Don't rush. Using your scoop shaped chisel, continue to work out chocolate from between the pedals, slowly making them thinner and thinner. Don't go too thin, or they will break off!
Step 3: Shaping the Stem and Leaves
Next comes the trickiest part.
Melt down your dark chocolate (or chocolate chips) and pour it out on a wax paper covered cookie sheet. You may wish to place a pair of pencils or chopsticks under the wax paper to form a pair of parallel ridges. Basically, what you want is a nice thick slab of chocolate to work from.
From the slab, carve a long straight piece of chocolate. To start with, I'd recommend going fairly large in diameter - at least the diameter of your pinky finger. From the same slab, cut a few leaf-shaped pieces and a few tiny thorn shaped pieces.
In a pot or double boiler on low heat, melt a small amount of dark chocolate. Using whatever you have around you, prop up the rose portion of the flower, flower side down. Using your finger and the melted chocolate as glue, attach the stem to the base of the rose. Don't worry too much if you dribble a little dark chocolate on the flower - it can be gently carved off later. Again, it is important to take your time as much as possible. If you have to use a fair bit of chocolate as glue, that's okay.
On the base of the flower, attach a few of the leaf shaped pieces (like on a real rose, there will often be a few bits of greenery from where the rose bud emerges). On the long portion of the stem, attach a few thorns. You may wish to let everything cool down at this point, before attempting to attach any leaves. Again, use whatever materials you have around you to help hold things into position.
Step 4: Final Assembly
If you want a fairly simple but decent looking way of presenting your rose, melt down all of your white chocolate shavings. In a container with a lid, add some shredded coconut with a few drops of food coloring and give it a shake. Take a thicker piece of cardboard, cover it in aluminum foil. Pour out the melted chocolate onto it, and then sprinkle the colored coconut on top of it. Gently rest your rose on it.
You may wish to preserve your chocolate rose in a cool place until it is time to present it to your special someone.