Peanut butter meltaways, fruit and walnut sugarplums, malted milk balls—the small-batch creations Steve Baxley and his daughter, Lauren, dole out at Baxley’s Chocolates in Sylva, which opened in October, are the stuff of sweet dreams. Steve and his father, who was a food scientist, long enjoyed making chocolates for family and friends around the holidays, and in more recent years, Steve shared the tradition with his daughter. So as Steve neared retirement and Lauren graduated from Western Carolina University, they hatched a plan to realize a family dream and open the chocolate shop.
Baxley’s makes its candies using an American style of additive-free couverture chocolate, meaning it’s made with over 32 percent cocoa butter and more than 50 percent cocoa solids. For a fun DIY Valentine’s project, the Baxleys offer a recipe for creamy ganache truffles using easy-to-get Lindt Excellence bars as an alternative to the high quality chocolate they use. He notes that maintaining a consistent temperature when heating the chocolate is key. Mix and match the flavorings and coatings to create your own box of assorted confections.
628 W. Main St., Sylva
For more info or to order online, see www.baxleyschocolates.com.
Courtesy of Baxley's Chocolates
1 cup heavy cream
8 oz. Lindt Excellence 70% Cocoa bars, broken into pieces
1 Tbsp. lime peel (about 2 limes), grated
2 Tbsp. Earl Grey tea leaves, loose
2 Tbsp. roasted coffee beans, chopped or coarsely ground
Coconut, finely grated
Shortbread cookies, finely chopped
Cocoa powder, sifted
Add flavoring of choice to the heavy cream and cold steep in the refrigerator overnight. Strain the cream through cheesecloth. If needed, add whole milk to return cream to the original volume.
Using a double boiler or the microwave, melt the chocolate to 95°F and not more than 104°F. Use a thermometer to gauge. In a pan and using a thermometer, heat the cream to between 104°F and 113°F. Remove chocolate and cream from the heat. In four to five increments, add the cream to the chocolate, keeping the mixture above 95°F.
After each addition, stir in the cream in a circular motion, starting in the center and working to the outer edge of the bowl. Stir until the cream and chocolate are well emulsified.
The ganache should have the consistency and shine of mayonnaise. Pour ganache into an 8x8-inch pan and allow to crystallize for 24 hours in a cool place, preferably 60-65°F. (Note: A refrigerator is too cool.) Once crystallized, use a melon baller to form ganache into balls. Roll in preferred coating and enjoy immediately; or, if sealed tightly, chocolates can keep in refrigerator for several weeks.