I was flipping through a cooking magazine the other day published by my favourite chef, Ricardo, a French Canadian cook with a penchant for preparing foods high in cholesterol, sugar and fat, or at least that’s the impression a reader would get from this one issue. The magazine features his take on all the (traditional) foods that I grew up with as a boy in Quebec, like hot chicken sandwiches smothered in gravy, poutine, mac and cheese, and chocolate donuts. As if this wasn’t incentive enough to pick up a copy, the remainder of the magazine paid homage to the splendours of chocolate and is replete with new and creative ways to rot teeth and keep dentists employed. One recipe in particular (if a recipe with a single ingredient even qualifies as a recipe) struck me as ingenious and I felt compelled to share it.
Those of you who work with me may already know I’m referring to a bowl made entirely of chocolate, like the one I brought in midweek to keep as far away as possible from my house. It is not as daunting as it appears and the method for creating it is so quick and easy that you’ll almost slap yourself after I reveal it. I feel like I’m giving away something esoteric, like a solution to the magic trick where a women gets sliced in half; but recipes, unlike David Copperfield secrets, are meant to be shared and enjoyed.
There are so many things one could do with the chocolate bowl, the least of which is devour it as is. They are also great to use for serving ice cream, cereal, or chocolate covered strawberries. I made the latter, as I had some melted chocolate leftover that I didn’t want to waste. I haven’t yet served hot soup in it, though I can pretty much guarantee your table cloth will need to be laundered. Enjoy!
(Recipe for 1 medium size bowl)
3/4 cup of dark or milk chocolate chips or wafers (add an extra 1/2 cup if you’re planning on also making chocolate dipped strawberries)
1 medium size balloon, quickly rinsed under water and left to dry.
An 8 x 8 inch sheet of parchment paper, sitting on a plate or tray
For melting the chocolate, a double boiler or bain marie for slow, gentle heating is ideal. I didn’t have one of these, but I used a large pot of boiling water and a wide rounded metal bowl that sat on top of the pot, making contact with the water, but that didn’t touch the base of the pot.
1. Inflate the balloon to roughly the size of a grapefruit and tie the end. You can make it as big or as little as you wish. If you want small bowls for ice cream, for example, make the balloons the size of an apple instead.
2. Begin boiling the water in the pot and place the wafers in a secondary bowl atop, if you did it my way, or melt the chocolate using any other means that you prefer.
3. Once the chocolate is melted, give it a good stir, then remove it from the heat. Holding the top of the balloon, gently dip it into the melted chocolate, swirling it around until the bottom half is evenly covered in a layer of the chocolate.
4. Remove the balloon and let any extra chocolate drip back into the bowl, then place the balloon chocolate side down onto the parchment paper. Place the balloon, still on the parchment paper and tray, into the fridge and let cool for for 10 minutes. If you have any extra chocolate in the bowl or pot, you can always use it for dipping fresh fruit, raisins or crackers.
5. Once the chocolate covered balloon has cooled, remove it from the fridge and let it sit on the counter. The next step involves deflating the balloon, though it has to be done slowly, gradually letting out the air from the top near the knot, so the chocolate bowl doesn’t immediately implode. Make a tiny hole with a sharp knife and let the air out through your fingers.
I had a difficult time removing the balloon from the inside of the bowl at this point, so I left it for 5 minutes on the countertop and the balloon started to come free on its own. You can help it along by gently peeling it away from the inside of the bowl.
Once the balloon is removed, you’re left with the free standing shape of a beautiful chocolate bowl. Keep it in the fridge and away from the heat until ready to serve.