Chocolate house making at Christmas has been a tradition that I started about 30 years ago and have since shared with my children. Well, technically they are ‘chocolate candy coating’ by Merckens or Ghiradelli… but I’ll get to that soon!
They’ve gotten plainer (believe it or not!) over the years. I used to make them to sell and then after I started having kids, I only made them for friends and neighbors who were
local (they don’t ship well!).
You wouldn’t know it now (I didn’t get any photos), but originally it was a very detailed house with large snowy yard with a white chocolate path, fencing, gum drops, etc. but got considerable less decorative as I started having children.
Over the years, the kids got older and they look forward to doing it… this year only my youngest was around the week before Christmas and together (in about 10 hours) we made 10 of them for friends and neighbors. I’ve changed the roof design this year–going for piping royal icing details on instead of using chocolate nonpareils as roof tiles.
Why ‘chocolate candy coating’ and not regular chocolate? The biggest difference is price–unless you don’t buy good quality. Here is a definition I found. However, I can’t stress more the difference between quality candy coating (i.e., Merkens, Ghiradelli) and crap (i.e., Wilton–yuck!).
Below is the story on what the difference between chocolate candy ‘coating’ and chocolate:
“The main difference between chocolate candy coating and real chocolate is the oil base used. Candy coating has palm kernel oil or other fats while real chocolate has a cocoa butter base. Real chocolate is a bit more expensive and more difficult to work with than candy coating, but nothing beats the flavor.
Good quality candy coating is easy to use, delicious in taste and is an excellent alternative to real chocolate. Beginners will enjoy the ease of working with candy coating while advanced candy makers may want to try working with real chocolate. Real chocolate must be tempered when dipping or molding. That means it needs to be a certain temperature (generally 86-89 degrees) when working with it, or your chocolates will not come out as desired. It is easy to use. Candy coating does not have to be tempered. Simply melt and it is ready to use.”
My *secret* for the walls and roofs of my houses is starting with excellent quality chocolate coating and mixing~3/4 dark chocolate to ~1/4 milk chocolate.
Most of the roof decoration is royal icing (mixed so it will flow through a tip and write with). The finishing icing (snowbanks) is mixed with less water.
This is the first year in a long time I took a lot of photos. I always mean to, but other things get in the way! I do regret not getting photos back when I began… I don’t have the energy anymore for that though!
So, what do you think?