Introduction: Homemade Chocolates!

With Valentine's Day coming up, I was beginning to search for special gifts for my sweetie. It occurred to me that there really aren't a lot of options for chocolates that are based on flavors for men. At least not many that I could find. So I decided that I would try my hand at making my own chocolates. I started questioning people I knew about what they would like to see made into a chocolate and I went to work. I ended up with all kinds of fun flavors such as a Bacon and Whiskey Chocolate and a Beer and Crushed Peanuts Chocolate.
The chocolates came out a great success and I thought I would share them with you so you too could experiment and create chocolates with unique flavors of your own, whether it be for this Valentine's Day, a birthday, or any old day of the week!
Hope you enjoy!

Step 1:

Before I list any supplies I would just like to state that I will be covering general basic recipes for cream filling and ganache fillings in chocolates. Then I will show you how I added various flavors to the cream and ganache fillings so that you too can further experiment with any flavors you desire.

Side note: Ganache, for those of you who don't know, is a sauce made from chocolate and cream. You can pour it over items to coat them in chocolate while the sauce is still warm or you can let it cool and whip it to make it a filling for certain items such as chocolates or pastries.

Step 2: Supplies!

For the Cream Filling:
1 lb Butter, Softened (You can use salted or unsalted for this. I used salted because the flavor mixes nicely, if you use unsalted you may want to put a little less sugar in.
3 Cups Powdered Sugar

For the Ganache Filling
3/4 Cup Heavy Whipping Cream
1 Cup Chocolate Chips

For the Chocolate Shell
Chocolate Chips or Melts of your preference in color and flavor!

Step 3: Making the Cream Filling!

In a large bowl, add your 1 lb of butter and a 1/2 cup of powdered sugar.
Use a blender to combine them until they are smooth.
Continue adding in 1/2 cup of powdered sugar and mixing until all the powdered sugar is used and you are left with a thick cream.

I divided this mixture evenly into 4 small bowls to make 4 different cream filling based flavors. I was able to get about 40 chocolates made from each small bowl flavor. This will vary of course depending on the size chocolates you make and what else you put inside your chocolates that takes up space.

Step 4: Making the Ganache Filling!

In a small sauce pan, bring your 3/4 cup of heavy whipping cream to a boil.
After reaching boiling point, remove from the heat and stir in your 1 cup of chocolate chips.
You can also just pour the heated whipping cream over the chocolate chips in a heat safe bowl if you would prefer.
Let this mixture chill a bit before using. It thickens with cooling.

I equally divided this mixture into two small bowls to make two different flavored ganache fillings. For the chocolate molds I used I was able to fill about 40 chocolates with each small bowl as well. As with the cream filling, this amount my vary as well.

Step 5: Adding Flavors to the Cream Filling!

After you have picked a flavor to add to the cream filling, get it prepared.
Anything such as chips, crackers, peanuts, etc. need to first be processed or crushed

In my picture, I chose to process some graham crackers to make a s'mores chocolate.
Anywhere from 1/2 cup to 1 cup should mix well depending on how much of the flavor you want to come through. I used 1 cup for my chocolates, of course this is only using the small bowl of cream. Add these to the cream base and mix thoroughly.

Anything liquid that you want to add needs to be at room temperature or you will experience curdling of the cream. It is also very important to only add a small amount at a time and combining before adding another small amount. Baby steps!

Step 6: Adding Flavors to the Ganache Filling!

Adding anything to the ganache is pretty much the same as the cream. Except that you don't have to be as careful when adding liquids, there won't be curdling. Just watch out for adding too much liquid to avoid making your ganache too watery. I'd say no more than 4-5 Tablespoons of liquid per half the ganache recipe. 8-10 Tablespoons per whole. If you do run in to making it too watery, just melt some extra chocolate chips and stir it into the ganache and let it cool again.

In my pictures, I added candied bacon reduced in whiskey. To do this, fry up some bacon. Dice it up nice and small. Add the diced bacon (I used half the package), two tablespoons whiskey and 1/2 tablespoon brown sugar to a small frying pan. Let this mixture heat up until the brown sugar has dissolved. Remove it from the heat to cool. Then add it to your small bowl of ganache, which is half the ganache recipe from the ganache filling step. Mix together well. I also added an extra tablespoon of whiskey to it, to add a stronger flavor.

Step 7: Flavor Ideas!

Now that you know how to add flavors to both the cream and ganache chocolate fillings, the possibilities are endless!
You can have fun experimenting with flavors such as beer, rum, chips, peanuts, caramels, other candies and alcohols.

Step 8: Making the Chocolate Shells!

I made a little double boiler to melt the chocolate I was using for the chocolate shells. This way I had less of a chance to burn them.
Microwaving works just as well if you'd rather do that.

To make a double boiler just fill up a large pan about 1/3 of the way with water and bring it to a boil.
Then place a metal bowl on top and add your chocolate/melts. Stir them every so often until they are completely melted. Careful, because the bowl does get hot, don't grab it without a hot pad!

To make the shells, take a food grade brush or spoon and apply a generous coating around the edges of your chocolate molds, then stick them in the refrigerator or freezer to chill and harden faster.

Step 9: Filling Your Chocolates!

With your chocolate mold shells made, it is now time to fill them with the various flavors you have chosen.
Put your cream or chilled ganache fillings into a ziplock or frosting bag and pipe it into your chocolate shells.
You may also use a small spoon if you would prefer.

Step 10: Finishing Touches!

You may also just add flavors directly to the empty chocolate shells such as pop rocks, peanuts, nerds candy, etc.
Finish the chocolate by using a butter knife and applying a generous layer of chocolate over your fillings.
Stick the tray back into the refrigerator or freezer to chill and harden faster.
Once they have hardened, pop them out of the tray and they are good to go!

Step 11: Putting It All Together!

Once you have them made, you can finish them by pipping on different chocolate designs as I did to give them personality. 
Then place them in candy wrappers and box them up.

I hope you enjoy and have fun creating!

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