For the cake I wanted to make my dad for Father's Day this year I wanted chocolate leaves, but I didn't have any kind of mould to use or anything, and I didn't want to opt for modelling chocolate because it was last-minute and I've never used the stuff, either. I wanted them thin and realistic, but I didn't really know where to start.
Then I remembered that I'd seen some things online in the past about using real leaves and coating the underside in chocolate and I thought, rather dubiously, that I might give it a go.
Since you should only use edible leaves, I used roses from the back garden which I could guarantee were pesticide-free, but you could also use mint leaves, fruit tree leaves, even some salad leaves.
You Will Need:
Leaves - young leaves work best as they're stronger and thicker
I only needed to make a handful so I used just 6 leaves, twice each. I also only used a standard 50g Dairy Milk bar. You don't need much!
1. First you need to clean your leaves. I collected mine from the garden so I knew there were no pesticides on them, but they were still outdoors so I gave them a good clean.
First I rinsed them under the cold tap and gave them a gentle rub to remove anything that might be on them, concentrating on the underside of the leaf as that's where the chocolate was going, and as it's also generally the rougher side of the leaf which would be more likely to trap dirt and tiny bugs.
Next I ran a bowl of warm water and a tiny bit of soap and set them in there for 10 minutes.
2. Dry your leaves carefully - use a dry tea towel or cloth to dab their undersides dry. You don't want to break the leaves, but you also don't want any water on the underside as it will stop the chocolate from sticking.
3. In a double-boiler (pan of water on a stove, heat-proof bowl placed on top, chocolate in the bowl), melt the chocolate over a low heat. Stirring the chocolate and keeping it moving will help in melt sooner and will prevent it from burning. Remove from the heat as soon as it's melted.
4. Next it's time to spread the chocolate over the back of the leaf. You can use a small brush for this, but I used the underside of a teaspoon that had been lightly dipped in the chocolate. Cover the underside of the leaf, but be sure to leave a small part, ideally the stem, uncovered to help peel it off when it's dry.
5. Lay them one by one on a solid surface and leave to set. If you put them in the fridge they'll set a lot quicker than if they're left out, about 20 minutes, but they will also soften very, very quickly once taken out. I used this method for the first batch and found I had to work out of the fridge, leaving the tray inside and peeling off one leaf, putting the chocolate back in the fridge, taking out the next and doing the same. If they're left at room-temperature to set, they'll take a lot longer but they'll also be far less likely to melt while being handled.
6. Arrange them how you'd like on a cake, cookie, etc. I used a knife to remove them from the fridge and place them where I wanted them, rather than my fingers as they caused a couple to melt - admittedly my hands were quite warm, as was the kitchen after baking the cake for Father's Day.