Mother's Day: How to Make Chocolate Flowers

Ta da!

[Photographs: Liz Gutman]

Why not make some flowers for Mom this year? Out of chocolate? Chances are she'll be pretty happy with a bouquet of these. Here's a step-by-step guide to making several different kinds of flowers, which you can then use to decorate cupcakes, garnish plated desserts or just give by themselves. It's not as hard as you think!

Before you start here, you have to make the chocolate "clay" (yup, it's edible clay). It's four ingredients, and the instructions are pretty much just boil, stir, and knead. You'll want to make it a day, or at least 3-5 hours, before you intend on working with it.

Roses

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1. Take a tangerine-sized ball of the clay and roll it flat between sheets of parchment as thinly as you can. One-eighth of an inch is ideal, but don't kill yourself over it. A metal spatula is also helpful, to loosen the thin sheets from the paper without wrecking them. Once you roll out the sheet of chocolate clay, cut out circle shapes for petals.

2. Trim each petal so that it has a V-shaped bottom. Technically, you don't HAVE to do this; but it makes your life a lot easier by cutting down the excess clay on the bottom of your flower. If you want to make your petals more thin and delicate-looking, gently flatten the edges with the heel of your hand. Just make sure to have your metal spatula nearby to get it off in one piece.

More of the same

3. Place one petal on the side of the center. Don't stick it on too much yet. Just place it so it stays.

4. Overlap the edges of the petals as you layer them so that each has one side under the other, and one side over. A teacher of mine in pastry school always said to make them look like they were hugging. Make sure to also place the top edge of the petal slightly higher than the first ones--you'll want to do this with each tier, so that the petals "bloom" properly.

5. Add two more petals, slightly overlapping the edges with each one. Don't stick them down yet! Once your third petal is down, gently lift up one edge of the first tier-2 petal you placed, and put the edge of the last petal underneath it. That may sound confusing, but the goal here is to have no petals with both side-edges on top.

Rosebud!

6. Keep building. It doesn't have to be perfect, and it does take practice. If you have a giant chunk of clay on the bottom, don't worry. That's just the buildup from all the petals. If you need a sturdy base for your flower, feel free to keep it on—or sculpt it into a stem, if you're feeling ambitious (just make sure to form it over a skewer if you want it to hold its shape). Otherwise, just twist off the excess at the bottom.

Cocksomb

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1. This one will resemble a cockscomb flower. You can use a mini muffin tin to help shape it, or a small cup or bowl, or really anything that will fit the size of the flower you want to make. Line whatever you're using with parchment (more support) or plastic wrap (less wrinkles), this will allow you to lift it out without it sticking when you're done.

2. Tiny tart pans make cute cutters.

3. Tuck the cutout into the muffin cup. Place another one on top of it. This flower is much more free-form, as you can see.

4. Fold up the third one before placing it in the middle. You might need to futz with it a bit; the end of a pencil, back of a paintbrush, or other similar tool can help you readjust petals however you like.

Cherryblossoms

Or make a bunch of cherry blossom-ish flowers

1. For a bunch of little, cherry-blossom-ish flowers, use a small cutter. Layer one cutout on top of the other, turning it so that the top and bottom petals alternate.

Button center

2. Don't forget the button center! A little round on top, with some dots for the center.

About the author: Liz Gutman co-owns the Brooklyn-based candy business Liddabit Sweets, which means she spends a lot of time around chocolate (and a lot of time eating it). She moved to New York in 2001 to go to, wait for it, acting school. But when the acting life wasn't for her, she wound up in the French Culinary Institute's pastry program while working at Roni-Sue's Chocolates in Manhattan's Lower East Side. She befriended Jen King, aka the other half of Liddabit, at FCI and founded Liddabit in May of 2009.

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