- 8 pounds bittersweet chocolate, tempered
For the sprayer:
- Cocoa butter, for spray painting
Make the base: Use an 18 to 20-inch diameter bowl that is about 6 inches deep. Press a large sheet of tin foil into the side of the bowl. This will create a great texture. Use a pastry brush dipped in dark chocolate to coat the tin foil. Do not press too hard with the brush or you will lose the texture of the aluminum. Repeat this step 3 or 4 more times until the chocolate layer is about 3/8-inch thick. When the chocolate has set, invert the bowl to release the base from the bowl. Carefully peel the tin foil away from the chocolate. Set aside.
Make the rooftops: Make a cone out of a sheet of acetate securing it closed with tape. Use a scissor to trim the edge of the cone so the end is straight. You will need 1 cone for each castle turret. The cones I made were about 9-inches tall and ranged in the opening diameter from 1 to 4 inches. Tip: Determine the size of the turrets you will make so you can coordinate cone rooftops that match the size.
Use a ladle to fill the cone with chocolate. When it is full, empty it into the bowl of chocolate. The inside of the cone should be evenly coated with chocolate. Wipe the edge of the plastic cone clean on the side of the bowl and place it upside down on a wire rack placed over a baking sheet. Once the chocolate starts to harden, about 5 minutes, scrape the edge of the cone clean with a paring knife. You can place the cone in the refrigerator for several minutes to help the chocolate to harden. Repeat 3 more times to make 4 rooftops. When the chocolate sets, peel off the acetate. Set aside.
Make the turrets: The tallest turrets of my castle are made with tubes of chocolate, each a different size in diameter. Each turret is also made of tubes of 2 different diameters. I made 5 turrets plus an extra large turret. I call the largest turret the main house. It is an irregularly shaped tube but the technique to make it is different from the other turrets.
To make the main house, roll a long piece of acetate to determine the size of the tube you would like to make. Use a marker to mark the place on the acetate that indicates the desired diameter. Unroll the acetate and place a piece of parchment at the mark to cover the extra acetate. Use an offset spatula to spread a 1/4-inch-thick layer of tempered chocolate over the exposed sheet of acetate. Let the chocolate set slightly then roll the open end toward the parchment line. When the open end meets the parchment, continue to roll the extra acetate and tape it closed. Use a tin can to press this tube into an irregular shape. When the chocolate is set, peel off the acetate.
Use a hot knife to shape the top edge of this piece. Use a slow sawing motion. If you see smoke, the knife is too hot. Dip the end of this piece into the tempered chocolate and adhere it onto the base.
To make the tall turrets, use the following technique to make chocolate tubes. Roll a tube to the desired diameter and secure it closed with tape. The turrets on my castle range from 1 to 5 inches in diameter. Tape 1 end of the tube closed with tape. Set the tube on end and fill with chocolate. When it is full, invert the tube over the bowl of chocolate allowing the excess chocolate to flow back into the bowl. Let set. When the chocolate has set, repeat this step a few more times. You want the tubes sturdy so the castle will be strong. Allow the chocolate tube to set until hard. Remove the acetate.
The largest tube gets cut into pieces to make the base of some turrets. Use a hot knife to cut all of the tubes into unequal sizes. To do this, heat the knife under very hot water and wipe it dry. Hold the knife blade against the side of the chocolate where you want to make the cut. Do not press on the knife or the chocolate will break. Allow the heat of the knife to "cut" through the chocolate by melting it.
To assemble the turrets: Start with the largest diameter planned for each turret and use tempered chocolate to adhere the piece to the base. Combine different size tubes to make the tall turrets. Use tempered chocolate to glue the turret pieces together. Apply the chocolate at the top of the base turret and at the bottom of the tube inserted into that base. Use cold spray or hold it until the chocolate sets.
Make a cornet and fill it with tempered dark chocolate. Starting with the tube of greatest diameter, place the next smallest diameter tube piece inside it and use the cornet to "glue" the 2 pieces together. If you have cold spray, it will be helpful to use it here. Continue this process using 2 or 3 different diameter tubes for each turret. Then repeat the process to make a total of 5 turrets.
Use a hot cutter to make the windows. Heat the cutter with a blowtorch or hold it under very hot water and wipe it dry. Hold the cutter against the chocolate where you want to make the cut. Do not press too hard or the chocolate will break. Allow the heat of the metal to "cut" through the chocolate by melting it.
At this stage, you can spray the castle to give it a great texture. The trick is that you have to be able to fit the castle into your freezer. Place the castle in the freezer for about 15 to 20 minutes. The surface of the chocolate must be chilled so the chocolate coating will harden upon contact, giving it the desired texture. Prepare the paint sprayer: Place equal amounts of chocolate and cocoa butter over a double boiler and melt until smooth (no lumps).
Remove the presentation from the freezer and place on a parchment paper lined surface. Place the chocolate mixture in a clean paint sprayer and use it to spray the dessert with the chocolate. Tip: Anything that touches the tubes after they have been sprayed will leave a mark.
Use tempered chocolate to secure a rooftop to the top of each turret.
Make the trees: Make a cornet and fill it with tempered dark chocolate. Draw a tree onto a sheet of parchment paper. Repeat the same technique to make as many trees as you would like. Let your imagination run wild as you draw spooky trees. When the chocolate sets, lift it from the parchment paper. If it sticks, you can loosen it with a paring knife.
Make the bats: Use a spoon to fill the bat molds with chocolate. Once the chocolate starts to harden, about 5 minutes, check to be sure the edges of the mold are clean and if necessary, clean with a paring knife. When the chocolate sets, it shrinks or retracts from the sides of the mold. A clean edge will keep it from sticking and cracking as it shrinks. You can place the mold in the refrigerator for several minutes to help the chocolate to harden. Repeat to make as many bats as you would like. I made mine about 7 inches tall.
Make the turret squares: Use an offset spatula to spread a 1/4-inch-thick layer of tempered chocolate over a sheet of textured acetate. Let the chocolate set slightly. Wait until the chocolate begins to set. Use a rolling cutter or hot sharp chef's knife to cut rectangles that are 1-inch by 2 inches. When the chocolate has set, carefully peel away the sheet. It should release from the chocolate quite easily.
Finishing details: Use tempered chocolate to attach the turret squares to the top of each turret. Glue the trees and bats in place. Use the tip of a metal skewer to poke holes in the base of the castle. Insert the chocolate lollipops into these holes.