Vegan Dessert Decorations & Guittard Chocolate

***Author's Note - April 30, 2015 *** After a commentor mentioned that Guittard was not vegan, I wrote an email to the company.  Here's what I was able to find out from Guittard and Micki Weinburg, their Regulatory & Culinary Specialist: "The cane sugar in our retail chips is processed with bone char. The evaporated cane syrup used in any of our organic products is not."  Thanks for urging me to check up on this!  I had read conflicting reports and now we know.  While I still love Guittard's Cocoa Rouge (unsweetened cocoa powder), I will no longer use their chocolate chips for my M&M baking.  Suitable substitutes are semi-sweet/dark chocolate from Trader Joe's, Aldi, and Enjoy Life brand, among others.

Since it's LOVE MONTH, we all need some chocolate embellishments to put on our baked goods!  I wanted to share with you a way to make cute little decorations that's fast and simple.

First, let me tell you a little bit about my favorite chocolate to bake with: Guittard.  You might say, "Aileen, I've never heard of this brand."  Although it's not well known, at least in the United States, it's a chocolate that's comparable to Ghiradelli.  (A chocolatier once told me that Guittard and Ghiradelli were contemporaries.  He thought that Guittard made better chocolate, but Ghiradelli was better at marketing, haha.  Just a little chocolate history lesson for ya.)

Let me tell you why I like Guittard for my baking:

1.  It's Semi-Sweet and Extra Dark Chocolate Chips are made with cocoa butter, not milk.  Yes, they are processed in a facility with milk-related products, so if you have an allergy, you might want to choose a dairy-free brand like Enjoy Life.

2.  Guittard does not use genetically modified ingredients (GMO's) in their products.

3.  It's chocolate is gluten-free, peanut-free, and all natural.

4.  In most products, Guittard uses sunflower lecithin instead of soy lecithin.  Soy lecithin is used as an emulsifier in many products (check the chocolate in your cabinet) and it's often genetically modified.  As you know, I try to avoid soy in my diet.

5.  Weird fact - I can find it cheap at Big Lots, cheaper than Ghiradelli at regular stores.  Check Big Lots.  I've seen Guittard chocolate chips in both Virginia and Pennsylvania stores.  Wegmans also sells their baking bars and those are great too.

For the decorations:
Grab an icing bag (from a local craft store) and fill it half way with chocolate chips.  Use a twisty tie to seal off the end and place the bag in a pan of warm water (almost boiling).  Your chocolate should melt quickly.  In the mean time, cut a piece of wax paper.

When the chocolate is melted, snip a small opening in the tip of the bag.  Now pipe whatever shapes you would like!  You can do it free hand or you can use a pattern, like I did for my sugar lace.

Remember, make many shapes, because not all of them will turn out.  Some will break or look weird.  Allow them to dry completely.  

Over the next few weeks, I will give you ample opportunity to use these designs!

Cheers,
-Aileen