Saturday, December 27, 2014

Happy New Year— Lime and Lemon Pisco Punches… or a Margarita, Maybe?

The Memory Keepers by Linda

"Masterfully distilled in the heart of the Andes Mountains, Portón Pisco personifies adventure in the form of the world's ultra-premium white spirit. Portón expresses the passionate power of the Peruvian spirit, inspiring, intriguing, alluring and enlivening connoisseurs and cocktail lovers in search of sophisticated flavor. From islands to oceans, east to west, Portón brings bold, personal experience to lovers, risk-takers, world travelers and anyone who understands how to explore without fear. Portón contributes an authentic aura to any setting, always adding enjoyment, inciting and emboldening others to see adventure anywhere in the world. Discover without apology. Act without fear. Embody success." 
                                                                              ~ Marketing blurb from the Pisco Portón website

   If you thought that promotional intro piece from Pisco Portón was a bunch of bull crap (sorry—I am a huge fan of The Voice, and I am starting to talk like Blake Shelton—accent and all), then just wait until you take a sip of the stuff. My son Jordan, who is not unaccustomed to drinking spirits, not only said it gave him "goose flesh", but also pronounced the cocktail to taste like "cobra venom", and he refused to drink a drop more. Pisco brandy, I would venture to say, is an acquired taste. I am aware of its ancient and honored past, and generally speaking I like things made from grapes—but I believe that we were missing the cultural piece that would have allowed us to properly appreciate the taste of Pisco. I am pretty sure no one is born liking the taste of Pisco—it is learned over time and hopefully in one's adulthood. I am told that it also tastes better with delicious Peruvian food, which we did not have on hand when we made this pair of cocktails.

Although Jordan was not drinking a Pisco cocktail at this particular moment—this is how
I remember his face looking after he told me he would rather drink cobra venom.
   Perhaps I should back up just a wee bit in the telling of this story in which I provide some context for our Pisco Punch caper. This past November, I left for Arizona the day after Thanksgiving to meet up with my son Jordan, where we would be spending a week with our family who all live in the southern part of The Grand Canyon State. Jordan, who would be flying in from Greenville, California the day after me—or so we thought—would be celebrating a belated Thanksgiving, his birthday, his cousin's birthday, an early Winter Solstice and Christmas with the family, who had not been together for six years following the death of our beloved Joshua in 2009. His cousins during this time had advanced from teens to young adults in the passing years, and Jordan would also be meeting his second cousins—his cousin Paul's boys. Jordan, who just finished with an exhausting fire season with the National Forest Service, somehow had it in his head that he would be flying in on Sunday instead of Saturday. When I had not heard from Jordan on Saturday morning that his flight would be on time, I finally resorted calling his home, hoping to talk with his roommate and co-worker, Jason, who I hoped might have some information for me. Instead, a very happy sounding Jordan answered the phone:
Me (sounding puzzled): You're at home… what are you doing?
Jordan (happily): I have been sleeping and now I am reading a book… what are you doing?
Much more conversation then ensued (not so happy) ending with...
Jordan (unhappily): "Oh, sh*t, I missed my flight! I am calling the airline right now."

Our sister, Juliette, dresses up these antique bottles with bits of bric-a-brac that she finds thrifting.
   We sisters take Sistercations very seriously. A Sistercation such as we just had—a mammoth affair that included all the family, the celebration of major holidays and birthdays required much coordination, discussion of possible menus, planning of venues and how to pack in as much as possible in the way of activities in a mere ten day span. Cocktail planning is also a favorite of we sisters. Often, I like to end the year with a special new cocktail that we share here on our blog for New Year's Day. This year Michelle, who has been reading up on how to make your own obscure components for Tiki cocktails, wanted to try making Pisco Punch, because she planned to make her own gomme syrup for the first time. This then, would be our end-of-the-year cocktail for 2014, which none of us had ever even ordered at a bar. This turned out to be a mistake on our part upon reflection.

   While Jordan was frantically trying to catch another plane in the middle of the overbooked Thanksgiving travel weekend, Michelle and I went to BevMo to pick up the special Pisco brandy that we would be needing later in the week for our cocktails. There were two varieties of brandy to choose between, so we picked the one that was a few dollars more and had the most most impressive bottle since the clerk had never tried either and could not make a recommendation. Back at home, we set the Pisco Brandy aside, declaring it off limits for Thanksgiving weekend casual drinking.

Cousincation was happening out in the backyard.
Michelle, Jordan and Paul mug for the camera. 
The cousins even had their own "Cousincation" table for Thanksgiving dinner.
   Long about mid-week, Michelle, Jordan and I found ourselves alone with some quiet time on our hands at around the cocktail hour. We all enthusiastically agreed it should be Pisco Punch time. Cameras, ingredients and equipment at the ready we could not decide on a particular recipe to try. Michelle had spied a recipe using her pineapple gomme syrup and lemon juice that she wanted to try. The internet search that I did revealed a Pisco Punch made with lime juice, gomme syrup and egg white, which I thought sounded better—so we decide to make both, and do a taste test.

Lime Pisco Punch with Gomme Syrup and Egg White

Lime Picso Punch—Version #1

   Though we did triple this recipe, I personally was grossed out by the thought of adding three raw egg whites to our drink mixture. So I tripled the ingredients and added one egg white, which I do believe led to a less fluffy foam on the top. I also blended the ingredients and then shook the mixture in a cocktail shaker. The group panel decision was that this was a nasty drink and we should move on to Michelle's hopefully much better cocktail.

1 ounce gomme syrup
3 dashes of Angostura Bitters
1 ounce fresh lime juice
1 egg white
3 ounces Pisco brandy

Blend ingredients vigorously in a cocktail shaker filled with ice. Pour into desired glass. The coupe is traditional. Enjoy or don't enjoy. We were decidedly on the "don't" side.

The Lemon Pisco Punch—although pretty—fell short of our expectations. 
We all voted that we should have made Margaritas instead.

Lemon Pisco Punch—Version #2

   The recipe seemed lacking in ingredients somehow, but we weren't sure what to add, so we left well enough alone we thought… but we were wrong. This cocktail sucked, too.

2 Tbsps fresh lemon juice
2 Tbps pineapple gomme syrup
4 ounces Pisco brandy

Add mixed ingredients to a cocktail shaker with ice. Shake or stir and pour into a cocktail glass. Sip and wish that you are having a different cocktail.

Jordan in a contemplative mood at The Mission in the Sun
dedicated to Our Lady of Guadalupe
. It was built by Ted DeGrazia in the 1950s.
   Alas, every so often we sisters get adventurous in the kitchen or bar, sadly—the results aren't always spectacular. What I think is most likely though, is that years from now, Jordan will remember the afternoon of making lousy Pisco Punches with his aunt and his mom with a grin and a toast to the good old days—whereas a better cocktail might have been forgotten in all of its perfection and lack of fuss. However, if you're asking for a better use of your time and drinking, we highly recommend our "Not Too Girly" Strawberry Margarita, this year's cocktail winner from me. It was definitely the most requested drink in the house this year at Thanksgiving. Fortunately Michelle had the prescience to make up a half gallon of strawberry-infused tequila ahead of time and a big batch of honey simple syrup.

Juliette's son Paul with his son Parker.
   As we slide into 2015 in just a few days time, we are once again thankful for our family and friends and time spent together in 2014. This year as usual has been filled with its share of trials and tribulations, but we move forward into the New Year with hearts full of gratitude for the love and abundance that we all share. Wishing you all a very Happy New Year with much love from the Salvation Sisters!

Improve Your Cocktails with Plain and Fruit Flavored Gomme (Gum) Syrups

by Michelle

A classic cocktail, an Old Fashioned, made the traditional way with homemade gomme syrup.
   Gomme syrup is simply a sugar syrup enriched with food grade Gum Arabic.  What, you say—gum? Gum Arabic is a white powder that is made from the resin of the Acacia tree. It makes the sugar syrup thicker, giving a more substantial mouth-feel to a classic cocktail. It's one of those things that you don't know what you are missing until you've tried it.
    For many spirit-forward classic cocktails such as a Sazerac that call for simple syrup, you may swap the same measurement for gomme syrup. While gomme syrup is not difficult to make, it fell out of favor with bartenders. The good news is that just like Justin Timberlake brought sexy back, mixologists across the country are bringing gomme syrup back.

Many classic cocktails are stirred with ice, not shaken, then strained into a chilled glass.
Gomme Syrup

   Food grade gum Arabic can be difficult to source. I finally ordered mine from on on-line retailer.

2 ounces food grade gum Arabic
2 to 3 ounces very hot water
2 cups granulated sugar or 1/2 granulated sugar and 1/2 demara sugar
1 cup filtered water
1 Tbsp vodka, optional—acts as a preservative to extend the shelf life of the syrup

Gum Arabic and hot water mixed to a thick gelatin-like paste.
1. In a mug mix together the gum Arabic and 2 ounces very hot water. Blend together vigorously for a few minutes until well combined. Add a little more water, if needed, to blend thoroughly. Set aside.
2. In a saucepan, heat the sugar and water over medium high heat, stirring frequently until the mixture reaches a boil. Reduce the heat, and maintain a boil, while stirring constantly for two minutes. Add the gum Arabic mixture and continue to boil, while stirring constantly, for two minutes. Remove from heat and let cool.
3. Strain the gomme syrup and whisk in one tablespoon vodka. Transfer the mixture to an impeccably clean jar with a tight fitting lid, or a squeeze bottle with a cap. The gomme syrup will last about 6 months when stored properly in the refrigerator.

Strained and ready-to-go gomme syrup.
The marinated pineapple chunks can be frozen and used as garnish for tropical inspired drinks.
Pineapple Gomme Syrup

  Infuse Gomme Syrup with the flavor of pineapple and make a number of cocktails including Pisco Punch.

1 ripe pineapple
2 ounces food grade gum Arabic
2 to 3 ounces very hot water
2 cups granulated sugar
1 cup filtered water
1 Tbsp vodka, optional - acts as a preservative to extend the shelf life of the syrup

1. With a sharp knife, remove the top and bottom of the pineapple. Slice down the sides of the pineapple to remove the peel, and discard. Slice in quarters, remove and discard, the core. Slice each quarter in half lengthwise, and then cut each quarter into 1-inch cubes.
2. In a mug mix together the gum Arabic and 2 ounces very hot water. Blend together vigorously for a few minutes until well combined. Add a little more water, if needed, to blend thoroughly. Set aside.
3. In a saucepan, heat the sugar and water over medium high heat, stirring frequently until the mixture reaches a boil. Reduce the heat, and maintain a boil, while stirring constantly for two minutes. Add the gum Arabic mixture and continue to boil, while stirring constantly, for two minutes. Remove from heat and add pineapple cubes. Let sit overnight.
4. In the morning, remove the pineapple slices. You can place the pineapple in a single layer on a cookie sheet and freeze. Once frozen, put the pineapple cubes in a ziplock bag and return to the freezer.
5. Strain the gomme syrup and whisk in one tablespoon vodka. Transfer the mixture into an impeccably clean jar with a tight fitting lid, or a squeeze bottle with a cap. The gomme syrup will last about 6 months when stored properly in the refrigerator.

Raspberry Gomme Syrup

  Infuse Gomme Syrup with the flavor of raspberries and use as a substitute for grenadine in your favorite cocktails.

2 ounces food grade gum Arabic
2 to 3 ounces very hot water
2 cups granulated sugar
1 cup filtered water
1 bag partially thawed frozen raspberries
1 Tbsp vodka, optional - acts as a preservative to extend the shelf life of the syrup

1. In a mug mix together the gum Arabic and 2 ounces very hot water. Blend together vigorously for a few minutes until well combined. Add a little more water, if needed, to blend thoroughly. Set aside.
2. In a saucepan, heat the sugar and water over medium high heat, stirring frequently until the mixture reaches a boil. Reduce the heat, and maintain a boil, while stirring constantly for two minutes. Add the gum Arabic mixture and continue to boil, while stirring constantly, for two minutes. Remove from heat and add raspberries. Let sit overnight.
3. In the morning, remove and discard the raspberries. Strain the pretty pink gomme syrup and whisk in one tablespoon vodka. Transfer the mixture into an impeccably clean jar with a tight fitting lid, or a squeeze bottle with a cap. The gomme syrup will last about 6 months when stored properly in the refrigerator.

I prefer to place one over-sized ice cube in a chilled crystal glass for an Old Fashioned or Sazerac.
A large ice cube, a twist of fresh orange peel and a Luxardo Maraschino are the perfect garnishes for an Old Fashioned: 2-1/2 ounces rye, 1/2-ounce plain gomme syrup and 2 dashes Angostura Bitters stirred over cubed ice and strained into a chilled crystal glass. 

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Quiche—Now and Then—and a Winter Solstice Brunch

by Michelle

"What can you do to promote world peace? Go home and love your family." ~ Mother Teresa

Maddie and I party—literally—like it's 1999.
I hosted a Winter Solstice luncheon for friends and colleagues.
   The topic of the morning while my husband and I made our respective coffees—he in a French Press, me with the stove top Bialetti—was to mull over the feminine versus masculine reaction to quiche. Jay reminisced about reading Bruce Feirstein's now famous article for Playboy magazine published in 1982 entitled, "Real Men Don't Eat Quiche." Hubby recalled the article was so hilarious that he had to stop reading in places so that his laughing could subside before continuing on to the end of the piece. The article was so popular that it spawned a book released one year later with a title of the same name and the byline—The Guidebook to all that is Truly Masculine. That's all it took—one satirical article cautioning modern day Homo erectus about the dangers of becoming sissified in our modern age—and just like that... faster than you can say pie crust—a whole generation of males lived in fear of being seen eating (much less choosing to order it off a menu) the delicious custardy and cheesy egg dish that is full of protein and perhaps a few vegetables and herbs.

On a recent Sunday, I prepared individual quiches for brunch.
  Fortunately, I'm a woman, so I don't have to be concerned whether I am, or am not, a real man when I eat quiche. I also, thankfully, don't have to contemplate if I am a real man if I put ice cubes in my whiskey or if I wear pajamas to bed. I can talk about my feelings and enjoy a sappy romantic comedy without the least twinge of guilt. I agree, however, with the notion that it is probably harder to be a "real" man (whatever that actually means) today than in yesteryears. My assertion on the matter of manly men is this: real men shouldn't worry about being real men. Eat the friggin' quiche and be happy that someone—probably a woman—made you a home-cooked meal. Remember to say thank you and compliment the cook. It's that simple.

   On a more practical note, quiche is great for brunch because the pie dough can be prepared the day before. The next morning, all that is left to do is add the filling to the prepared crust and pop it in the oven. Side dishes are made while the quiche is turning puffy and golden while baking. Quiche feels like a celebration dish, even if at its heart, it's a humble pie.

My Winter Solstice Luncheon Menu from 1999 that was posted on the refrigerator.
For the official record, the name of each guest was handwritten on the reverse side.
   If I am to ever own a bistro, I know that I would have individual quiches on the daily menu. Quiche is open to endless variations and tastes best with fillings that are fresh and in season. I also like that quiche can lean more towards breakfast with a side of cottage potatoes or more towards lunch when served with a side salad, such a the tasty Rockin' French Salad with French Vinaigrette. If I'm feeling energetic, I'll serve both potatoes and a salad, 'cause that's the way I like it.
  The following recipe gives you a formula to follow to create your own quiche masterpieces. If you are interested in making individual quiches, I had to search wide and far before finding the small springform pans at Sur La Table. If I had to do it over again, I would buy cheesecake pans with removable bottoms. They look easier to handle (when removing the quiches) and clean.


   For the real men in your lives, my husband suggested that quiche would benefit by a rebranding campaign. "Wimpy" Quiche Lorraine could transform into Lumberjack Pie. Any "real" man would want that heartiness personified when eggs are enriched with bacon, cream and Gruyère. Wait, you better say cheese instead. Gruyère sounds like it could be a girly cheese, ya know?

For one 9-inch deep dish or 10-inch Pie
1 recipe All Butter Pie Crust or Gluten-Free All Butter Pie Crust, or commercially prepared pie crust
1 egg lightly beaten

3 eggs
1-3/4 cups half and half, or cream (do not use low-fat milk)
1/2 tsp sea salt
a few grinds freshly ground black pepper
a pinch of ground nutmeg

Absolutely Delicious All Butter Gluten-Free Gum-Free Pie Crust is easy to work with.
Protein:  Diced cooked ham, diced cooked bacon, crumbled cooked sausage, slivered Genoa salami
Cheeses: shredded white cheddar, crumbled chèvre (goat cheese), Gorgonzola, Gruyère, Monterey Jack
Vegetables: roasted and chopped Hatch chiles, most vegetables should be sautéed or roasted (and cooled) before adding to the quiche, this includes aromatics such as shallots, garlic, leeks and onions
Fresh Herbs: basil pesto (add to the custard mix, if using), minced dill, minced parsley, crumbled thyme, lemon zest

If you happen to be using a lot of cooked vegetables, that might expend even more water while being baked, such as zucchini, yellow squash, tomatoes, red bell peppers, mushrooms, you can add 1 tablespoon cornstarch to the custard mix to ensure thickening while baking.

buttered French or sourdough bread crumbs (or Gluten-Free, such a Glutino brand)
shredded Parmesan

1. Prepare All Butter Pie Crust or Gluten-Free Gum-Free All-Butter Pie Crust one or two days ahead up to the point the dough is rolled out, placed in the pie pan, edges crimped, and crust docked. Cover and refrigerate until ready to blind bake the crust (at least one day ahead).

2. Preheat oven to 375°F. Remove the cold crust from the refrigerator and immediately line with foil, the shiny side down and fill with your preferred choice of pie weights (I use dried beans that I keep and reuse as needed). Bake for 15 minutes, then remove foil and pie weights and bake for another 5 minutes. Brush the crust with the beaten egg white, and bake another 2 to 3 minutes. Remove the crust from the oven and set it aside to cool. You can placed the pie on a cookie sheet, if you like, for easier transfer between counter and oven.

3. Lightly whisk the eggs and then add the cream, then stir in the sea salt, black pepper and nutmeg.
4. Cover the pie crust with protein and shredded or crumbled cheeses. Sprinkle on vegetables and fresh herbs, if using. Pour the custard into the prepared crust. The custard should be level with the bottom of the crimped edge. Sprinkle the top with 2 tablespoons of Parmesan and 1 to 2 tablespoons of buttered breadcrumbs, if desired.

5. Bake until puffed and golden and the filling is set, about 25 to 35 minutes, depending upon your oven. Once removed from the oven, I let the Quiche cool on a rack for about 10 minutes before slicing and serving.

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Chocolate Macadamia Nut Praline Tart and Memories of My Life as a Pastry Chef—Gluten-Free Tart Version Included

by Linda

"If baking is any labor at all, it's a labor of love. A love that gets passed down from generation to generation." ~ Regina Brett

Maddie's 18th birthday dessert request—Chocolate Macadamia Nut Praline Tart
   In 1990 I was busy working as the pastry chef for The Los Olivos Grand Hotel, a small and elegant establishment on Grand Avenue in Los Olivos, California. I look back now with mostly fond memories of the job. In spite of the long hours, low pay and working on every weekend and holiday—the job offered much in the way of creativity—which I enjoyed immensely. From the time I was just a girl, I have always loved to bake.

   Luckily, the executive chef of the hotel restaurant allowed me complete freedom to bake and make whatever I desired as long as the customers loved my creations (which happily they did), and consequently she did not interfere with my menu selections. The hotel had a beautiful kitchen which I was told that Julia Child had a hand in designing, and I had my own private work station that included a large Hobart mixer, and small Kitchen Aid mixer, a Robot Coupe food processor, a large wooden table for working bread dough, my own sink with a large stainless work surface attached, double convection ovens, a cold marble surface on top of a low cold case for working pastry dough, chocolate and plating desserts, a microwave and a large free standing refrigerated case with shelves that held all of my components and completed desserts that required refrigeration. I worked on the opposite side of the cooks who worked the line (there was a freestanding wall dividing us), so while I had my own separate area, I still interacted with the rest of the kitchen's chefs and waitstaff. It was there that I best learned the intricate and chaotic dance that is performed each shift, during which the kitchen staff and the waitstaff are conjoined in a frantic back of the house effort in order to smoothly pull off the high-end dining experience going on in the front of the house. I enjoyed the camaraderie borne of stress and having a common goal that was shared among the cooks and the servers, and I am still friends to this very day with a few people that I worked with at that time—you know who you are—much love from me.

   As said "pastry chef" for the hotel's restaurant (I have no formal training, but have been baking most of my life), I was responsible for producing almost entirely by myself, every loaf of bread used for making sandwiches and filling the bread baskets for breakfast, lunch and dinner. In addition many varieties of bread, I also baked all of the  hamburger buns, dinner rolls, muffins and cookies that were eaten on a daily basis. I also made all the offerings on the dessert tray which changed daily and seasonally, and all of the special occasion cakes for birthdays and weddings. Everything was created from scratch using the best ingredients. It wasn't long before restaurant patrons were asking to buy loaves of bread to take home with them at ten dollars a pop (a staggering figure to me back then). My Orange Wheat and Nut Bread was one of the varieties that I would sell if we had extra. It amazed me that customers were even happy to take home loaves that had been frozen if there wasn't fresh bread available, and so I did my best to have a stash available in the freezer.

   I had never done production baking before working at the hotel, and I learned a great deal in my three years there about the practicalities involved and time management skills needed in order to serve a busy restaurant that served breakfast, lunch and dinner, provided a buffet on Sundays and also hosted special events like banquets and weddings. The Santa Ynez Valley is home to a number of celebrities who dined at the restaurant and who became ardent fans of my baked goods, so I most definitely did some cooking for the stars. I was told that Steven Seagal would regularly come by in those days to order one of my Brownie à la Mode with Fudge Sauce dessert plates and teasingly gave instructions to the waitstaff to not let Kelly LeBrock, to whom he was married at the time, know about his sweets bingeing since he was supposed to be on a diet for an upcoming film. James Garner would call ahead to make sure that his favorite chocolate chip cookies would be waiting when he arrived fresh from the oven (I wish I would have gotten to take the order personally—he was one of my favorite actors because he reminded us so much of our Papa), and Fess Parker and his wife Marcy asked to meet me on one occasion because they loved my desserts—they ate at the hotel often and later bought the property. It was at this little hotel where guests attending Elizabeth Taylor's wedding to Larry Fortensky stayed in 1991, because it was near Michael Jackson's Neverland Ranch where the ceremony took place.

    Over the course of my years baking at the hotel, certain items became standards, and our regular customers were disappointed if they were not on the menu. Among these desserts were my Favorite Cheesecake, the Best All American Apple Pie, Old Fashioned Berry Crisp and the much clamored for Chocolate Pecan Praline Tart. At the hotel I used pecans instead of Macadamia nuts because Macadamias were so expensive, and they can be substituted here if you wish (just about any nut of your choice will work perfectly well).

Maddie invites her cousin, Jordan, to help her blow out her
candles—his birthday was the day before hers.
   I left the hotel to accept a position as chef/manager of a bakery café in Solvang that was just down the street from where I lived, and I worked there until I left cooking professionally behind—but it is with nostalgia that I look back on those years when I was called "The Mistress of Spice and Everything Nice" in the Los Angeles Times after a food critic came to stay for a weekend.

   In just a week I will be flying to Arizona where our family is gathering to celebrate Thanksgiving, my son, Jordan's, thirtysomething birthday and my niece Maddie's (frequently the ever patient and good-natured model in our blog posts) eighteenth birthday, Winter Solstice, Christmas and New Years all in the span of ten days. Maddie isn't really a cake person, just like our dad, and so Michelle and I will be making the Chocolate Macadamia Nut Praline Tart for her party. It will be a trip down memory lane for me—I haven't made the tart for at least twenty years. I am looking forward to introducing it to this generation of our kids while we celebrate birthdays, and the passing of this year and the beginning of a new one. Should they want to make a special dessert in the near future or twenty years from now, for the generations of our family yet unborn, they will be able to find the recipe here, in our family's virtual recipe box.

Chocolate Macadamia Nut Praline Tart

How To Make Chocolate Leaves for Dessert Garnishing

by Linda

Chocolate leaves are simple to make but create a dramatic effect with little effort as 
shown here as decorations on our Chocolate Macadamia Nut Praline Tart.
   Making your own chocolate leaves is a wonderful way to garnish desserts at home. Generally speaking you will have the leaves that you need in your own garden. Generally speaking, any waxy and stiff leaf (that is not poisonous will work)—ivy, citrus and camellia are good choices.

Citrus leaves from Michelle and Jay's backyard in Tucson.
1 Pyrex bowl for heating chocolate
1 small pastry brush
1 sheet parchment paper

Waxy leaves—number will depend on how many leaves you will need for the item that you will be decorating. I used about fifteen for the Chocolate Macadamia Nut Praline Tart in the photo above.

8 ounces of semisweet chocolates—melted (the microwave is easiest)

Lay out your leaves  on a cookie covered with parchment paper.

Once the chocolate is melted, brush the BACK of leaves and allow to chill or dry. Make sure the coating of chocolate is thick enough to peel easily off.

Once chilled (you most likely will need to chill the chocolate-covered leaves in the refrigerator for about an hour), gently peel the free leaf free from the chocolate. Chill leaves until ready to use.

Try to handle the finished chocolate leaves as little as possible since the heat
of your hand will cause them to start melting.