One of my favorite recipe demos of the year is always the one before Valentines Day – mostly because it means I have an excuse to make a chocolaty confection! A couple of months ago I was watched the Food Network’s special “Barefoot in London“, which covers the Barefoot Contessa‘s foodie trip to London. She visited a chocolatier while there, and they made chocolate lollipops…all I could think was “Yum!”
I used the Cordillera 65% chocolate coins that we carry at the Co-op, but you can use any high quality chocolate. I recommend using South American chocolate as it tends to be more ecologically and socially responsible. Chocolate sourced from Africa has been under fire for the last decade+ due to rampant child labor and slavery issues, so it is best to make sure that the chocolate you buy is Fair Trade certified. You can find an article by the BBC here and videos from their investigation here.
For best results, you need to temper the chocolate although this isn’t as hard as you might think it is – all you need is a thermometer and a little confidence! The difference between tempering the chocolate and skipping the step is that tempered chocolate doesn’t melt at room temperature, so if you decide to skip the tempering steps then you will need to keep the lollipops in the fridge until you serve them. The Barefoot Contessa offers a white chocolate version of the recipe where you temper the chocolate in the microwave – I haven’t done that myself, but if she says you can do it then I believe her!
Once you have the chocolate melted, the fun starts. To make the lollipops, you simply spoon a portion of the chocolate onto a prepared baking sheet, horizontally twist a pretzel stick into the chocolate (I used Snyder’s gluten-free pretzel sticks), and top with goodies like nuts, dried fruit, sprinkles, etc. After that, you pop them in the fridge to set and voilá – chocolate lollipops!
That’s really all there is to it – I was able to make about 85 of them in a little over an hour, from start to finish, so this treat doesn’t require much time in the kitchen. These are incredibly cute little confections, and if you are crafty in the kitchen then you could also use a pastry bag (or a gallon zip plastic bag with the corner snipped off) to pipe the chocolate into heart shapes.
1 pound chocolate = about 40 lollipops
- 12-16 oz Cordillera Chocolate 65%, or other high-quality South American chocolate
- Bag of pretzel sticks (the Co-op carries gluten-free pretzel sticks)
- Various toppings, like dried fruit and nuts
- Temper the chocolate—chop the chocolate coins coarsely. They don’t need to be very fine, but make sure you don’t have any large chunks.
- Place about 2/3 of the chopped chocolate in the top of a double boiler (or make your own using a heat-proof bowl set over a small pot of water 1” deep). Securely clip a chocolate or instant-read thermometer to the side of the pan/bowl. Heat water until simmering (keep water a slow simmer—you may need to adjust the heat).
- Using a wooden spoon or plastic spatula, stir gently, but steadily as the chocolate melts.
- Bring the chocolate to 115°F. Try not to allow the chocolate to exceed this temperature. Remove from the heat, wipe the bottom of the bowl/pan, and set it on a heat-proof surface. Keep the water simmering, as you may need to slightly reheat the chocolate as you are making your lollipops.
- Add the reserved chocolate and stir gently to incorporate—this will start to cool the chocolate. Stir until smooth.
- For the lollipops—prepare two baking sheets by covering them with parchment paper or foil (or silicone baking mats).
- Drop a tablespoon-sized circle of chocolate onto the baking pan with a spoon, and immediately take a pretzel stick and place it horizontally in the middle of the chocolate round, twisting a few times to cover (make sure you leave a “handle” outside the chocolate).
- Add any toppings—chopped nuts, chopped dried fruit, etc.
- Place baking sheets in the fridge for about a half hour to set.
- Remove and enjoy!
If the chocolate is tempered correctly, then you will not need to store these in the fridge. If you don’t mind storing them in the fridge, then you don’t need to worry about tempering the chocolate first—tempered chocolate holds its shape at room temperature, and un-tempered chocolate tends to get melty.