I thought I’d do something simple and fun this Halloween. Say hello to my chocolate bats! The process is fairly straightforward – pretty much the same method as the chocolate butterflies that I have made in the past with a different template and some flower wire. Also, the eyes of the bats are drawn in with toothpicks dipped in edible gold dust and vodka. If you’re desperate for a template – any template – to get started now, below is a scanned sheet of my roughly sketched bats and tree stump. I will eventually attempt to make a proper template but for now this will just have to do, internet people! I also tried out a new chocolate cake recipe which was amazing. The cake turned out extremely moist and dense with no grief in regards to technique or complex ingredients. Recipe from here. In terms of photography, I set up a black board on the dining table as below and took the photograph with a 60mm f2.8 lens. I hope you guys enjoyed this little project – I had fun making it. It’s been a while since I did anything fancy.
A while ago I saw a photograph of profiteroles decorated into swans. I thought they looked elegant. Then the bright idea came to me about 2-3 weeks ago – why don’t I try to make a peacock profiterole?
After perusing many images of peacocks I sat myself down and drew templates for the feathers and the head. It took a fair bit of effort but I got there eventually.
At first I thought it was going to be easy. Step one – bake profiteroles and fill them. Step two – pipe chocolate decorations. Step three – stick them on. Step four – photograph them. How hard could that be? I’ll get this over and done with in 3 hours tops.
Let’s start with Step 1 – Bake Profiteroles and Fill Them
Profiterole recipe from here. The only difference is that I piped mine into teardrop shapes about 3-4cm with a flick at the end to simulate the peacock’s tail. It took me a couple of batches to get to the optimum size but eventually I got there.
For the filling, I whipped some cream and added some leftover chocolate buttercream to it, which produced a medium-bodied chocolate cream. I then poked a hole at the bottom of my profiteroles and piped some of the cream into it.
Okay. So far so good. I only had to bake a couple of batches of profiteroles. That’s okay.
Step 2 – Pipe Chocolate Decorations
For this exercise you will need:
Template for peacock feathers and heads, available here
50g compound or tempered chocolate, melted (technique explained here)
Disposable piping bag or ziplock bag
Sesame seeds and edible pearls or other embellishments as per personal preference (optional)
Tweezers for precise placement of embellishments
1. Place template underneath waxed paper.
2. Pour melted chocolate into piping bag and snip a very small hole at the tip (roughly 1-2mm).
3. Carefully pipe chocolate according to template. Make enough for however many profiteroles with some extras in case of breakages.
4. If embellishing, place decorations as desired. I used sesame seeds for the eyes as well as the top of the peacock’s comb.
5. Leave to set.
6. Carefully peel waxed paper away from decorations.
It all sounds easy enough but I broke many of my decorations and had to redo them – partly due to an initial design flaw in my template. It got much better after a few tweaks to the design. Sure, I broke 2 out of 3 of my peacock feathers. I can do this!
Step 3 – Attach Decorations
Using a very sharp knife, cut slits into the profiteroles and gently prod the chocolate pieces into the slits. I cut the slits at a slight angle as I felt it was more aesthetic that way. When attaching the peacock feathers, ensure that the centre of the tail (the portion where all the lines meet) is embedded in the profiterole otherwise your peacock construction will fail. Yes, this is from experience. That is why my final template actually has two sections less than my original design – it is to ensure that the midpoint can be embedded easily.
Step 4 – Photography and Styling
My friend suggested that I try out Canon’s Speedlite to assist in lighting my indoor night shots and this was my first attempt using it. I am not entirely happy with the photograph – I assume it takes a lot of practice to get it right but somehow the styling and detailing etc just did not work out for me. I don’t hate it, but I don’t love it. Probably need a lot more practice.
This was one of the most time consuming projects I had ever undertaken – probably because it was something that I had to trial and error. Overall, I was pleased with the results and I think if I were to attempt to recreate these it would be much, much easier and quicker. Also, I finally got round to learning how to use Adobe Illustrator so from now on I’ll be providing templates in PDF format if required for all my projects!
I have come to the conclusion of late that my favourite medium to work with is royal icing. Yes, it is annoying trying to get the consistency right but once you do it is such a rewarding experience!
I made this chocolate tart recently and decided I would jazz it up with a royal icing butterfly. I chopped and changed the recipe so much that I can’t even remember what I did but there are plenty of chocolate tart recipes out on the internet to choose from.
For the royal icing butterfly, I piped the right and left wing separately on waxed paper and left it to completely dry. Template for the butterfly wings available here. Once they were dry I carefully peeled them off and attached them together with royal icing and left them to rest propped up between books at the desired angle.
I would have taken progress shots but I forgot to do so. Maybe next time. I have since made a video tutorial on how to make these butterflies: