Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Take a Break: Chocolate Leaves and Other Projects

Fall is so gorgeous in Vermont, particularly the vibrant shades of red and orange, so today’s “take a break” is all about going outside and collecting leaves from your neighborhood. There are so many ways that you can use these leaves, but since I adore chocolate in all forms, my first suggestion is making chocolate leaves.

 While traditionally lemon leaves are used for this, how many of us are fortunate to have lemon leaves in our yards? However, as long as the leaves are free of pesticides and non toxic, you can use them for this project. Rose and grape leaves are fine. So before you start this project, check with your state’s garden hotline to make sure the leaves you are using are safe. Greener leaves that have pronounced veins work best for this project.

To get started wash and dry the leaves carefully.

Melt chocolate. You can use a water bath or place the chocolate in the microwave for 30 second bursts so that it doesn’t burn. “Paint” the chocolate onto the back side of the leaf, you can use your finger,  and place on wax or parchment paper to dry. I generally put them in the refrigerator. Once hardened, peel holding onto the stem. Store the leaves in the refrigerator until ready to use.

You can use white chocolate and add a little bit of food coloring to obtain the reds, yellows and oranges of fall. While there are specific colorants you can purchase for white chocolate, regular food coloring, with a little bit of oil, works. The colors are not going to be a bit muted with this technique. 

One idea for a terrific dessert is to take a chocolate leaf, place a single berry (such as a strawberry, raspberry or blackberry) with a smidge of whipped cream. How elegant!

For more tips, watch the video How to make chocolate leaves. 

Some other leaf projects:

Paint on Leaves: The leaf is your canvas. Just about any leaf will do, but the bigger the better. Unfortunately, you wont be able to really paint them right away, but you can begin the process.

Step 1: Place leaves with their stems between paper, under books or bricks, and let dry and flatten.

Step 2: Once dry, soak them in water, so they will become soft and pliable.

Step 3: Paint with acrylics.

Step 4: Consider framing.

Cut patterns into dry leaves: Use the same process above for leaf preparation, and then gently cut out designs. For inspiration, check out Lorenzo Duran’s amazing leaf cuts 

Make Roses from Maple Leaves: I did this last fall and the results are amazing. 

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