Here's a quick tip: instead of making the chocolate cups, you can buy pre-made chocolate cups if you're pressed for time. Liquor stores often carry them (they're sold as "liqueur cups" but they're just empty chocolate shells) and some gourmet stores stock them. If you want to make the cups yourself, I have a photo tutorial showing how to make chocolate cups.
- 8 ounces good-quality white chocolate, chopped
- 1/2 cup heavy cream
- 1/4 tsp peppermint extract
- 12 paper candy cups OR molds with 12 cavities in the shape of candy cups
- One pastry bag
- 5 ounces semi-sweet chocolate
- Food coloring (optional)
1. The ganache will need to be prepared at least 4 hours in advance of the candy assembly. To make the ganache, place the white chocolate in a large bowl. Add the mint extract to the cream and simmer them in a small saucepan until it just begins to bubble around the edges. Pour the hot cream over the chocolate immediately, and let it melt the chocolate for a few minutes. Whisk the mixture carefully, trying not to incorporate too many air bubbles, until it is smooth and fully mixed. Cover the top with cling wrap, and allow it cool to room temperature. Once it is lukewarm, place it in the refrigerator to firm up, at least 4 hours.
2. While waiting for the ganache to firm, make the chocolate cups. Begin by tempering the chocolate.
3. There are two ways to make the cups: by using paper candy cups, or by using plastic or metal candy molds in the shape of cups (sometimes called “bonbon cups.”) If using the candy molds, fill the molds to the top with chocolate. Place in the refrigerator for 1-2 minutes, until they just begin to set. Remove and hold upside-down over a baking sheet covered with foil. The chocolate will flow out of the molds, leaving a thin layer clinging to the sides. Replace the molds in the refrigerator until the chocolate hardens completely. Scrape up the chocolate from the foil and save for later use. Once the cups are hard, unmold and trim the tops with a paring knife. Now skip to step 5.
4. If using paper candy cups, take a small pastry brush (or clean paint brush) and brush the chocolate up the sides of the cups. Try to make your coating as even as possible, and swirl the cups upside down to help distribute the chocolate. Hold the cups up to the light to determine whether there are any translucent spots that did not get covered adequately. Place the chocolate cups face down on waxed paper or aluminium foil and let them harden completely. Once the chocolate hardens, carefully peel off the paper wrapper. Here is a photo tutorial with step-by-step instructions showing how to make chocolate cups.
5. Now that the cups are made, it’s time to fill them. Using a small hand-held electric mixer, whip the ganache until it forms firm peaks.
6. Fill a pastry bag fitted with a star tip (or a large Ziploc plastic bag with the corner cut off) with the whipped ganache and pipe swirls of ganache into the chocolate cups. For a striped effect, dip a toothpick in food coloring and drag it up the sides of the pastry bag in two or three locations. After a few seconds of squeezing, the ganache will emerge from the bag with stripes of color.
7. If desired, the cups can be topped with small candies or chocolate cut-outs. Makes one dozen.