originally posted 2017?
Here is a post I found on my computer from a couple years ago! I love finding these hidden gems. I will have to update them soon. (new pictures for sure), but it is still fun to see my progress.
I thought I would start with something pretty simple to get this blog going. Chocolate leaves are something I have been making for years to decorate my Thanksgiving pumpkin cheesecakes. They quickly dress up any fall dessert to make them fancier, and add a bit off sweetness with the addition of the chocolate. They can be quite fun to make; but perfectionists be warned, chocolate leaves rarely turnout whole and have a habit of falling apart, and when I started making them this really bothered me. More recently, however, I have come to accept that as part of the process. In nature, after leaves have fallen, they are crunchy, fall apart, get stuck together etc. I feel it adds a more natural feel to them, so I have never tried to correct it. There are definitely chocolate molds that you can purchase to make thick leaves, but for me this looses the unique feel that my chocolate leaves create. For me, it is more about recreating the texture of the leaves into chocolate, and if a couple of them keep their entire shape, even better.
The first step is to go for a walk and collect some leaves. I specifically use maple as I believe they are the most symbolic to Canadian fall celebrations, but any type would have the same effect. You definitely want to make sure the leaves you are collecting make a recognizable leaf shape. You will also want to make sure you are collecting leaves without deficiencies (wholes, growths, etc.) to create a solid chocolate leaf. I usually end up pulling leaves straight from the tree to get the best ones, although I am sure the ground ones would be just as effective.
Once you have collected your leaves they need to be washed and completely dried. The best way to do this is rinse them under the tap and put between two pieces of paper towel to dry. It is best to not air dry them because they may crumple into themselves. After you dry with the paper towels, lay them out on a sheet of wax paper so that none of the leaves are overlapping.
Step two is to melt chocolate. I simply use the coloured chocolate wafers that you can get at bulk barn. It is up to you whether you want to keep them the brown chocolate colour, or if you want to create medley of colours representing the colours of fall leaves. I always use a number of different colours to create more depth, and more fun.
To melt the chocolate, I put it in the microwave for 30 seconds at a time stirring in between until melted. If you find that the chocolate is hardening before you can even get to working with it, then I would suggest melting chocolate in a double boiler in the stove rather than in the microwave. I find that this is the main difference between the two methods; the way the chocolate melts to create longer lasting melted chocolate.
After the chocolate is melted, it is time to put it on the leaves. You want to make sure the leaves are facing up. Leaves have a natural waxy coating so you do not need to put anything on them before hand. (I have actually tried spraying them with pam, but I didn’t see a noticeable difference). I use a spoon to spread the chocolate over the leaves, making sure to stay within the border of the leaf. Chocolate falling off the edges will make it more difficult to peel the chocolate off of the leaves after it hardens leading to more breaking. You can see in the picture below where chocolate has run of the edges and folded back under the leaf. This chocolate will have to be broken off, also breaking part of the leaf in order to separate the two. A more precise method would be to use a small paint brush rather than a spoon. This would lead to more precise placement of the chocolate and thus less leaf breakage.
Mixing the colours on the leaves is a great way to try and match the different colours of leaves. You will want to make the layer of chocolate thick enough that you can peel it from the original leaf easily, but thin enough that it still resembles leaves. Once you have completed covering the tops off all your leaves in chocolate, put them in the fridge for them to harden. It should take no longer than half an hour.
When you pull them out of the fridge you can start to separate them from the leaves. I find that starting at the stem is the easiest way to pull them apart as it is the thickest part of the leaf. This is a very delicate process, and you may find the leaf breaking in numerous places but don’t get discouraged. If you are placing the leaves on a cake, then you can simply place the leaf roughly back together at its final resting place. You can also use smaller pieces layered on the top of your dessert. For me, seeing the textures of the original leaves within the chocolate is the most rewarding part, and creates the essence of real leaves as decoration that a chocolate mold can’t create.
After you have peeled them all off from the original leaves, you can arrange them however you seem fit on whatever you have chosen to decorate. I find that the more random they are the better to create the assumption that they have fallen randomly off a tree.
So there you have it, an easy decoration to wow guests during the fall. (There will be a final picture of a cheesecake with leaves)
Check out this add I made when I was starting my business featuring pumpkin cheesecake and chocolate leaves! (I think this is from 2016? Pre-storefront)