Here at Endangered Species Chocolate we take our jobs very seriously – I mean, we work with the food of the Gods, people! One could even argue that the staff here at Endangered Species is right up there in importance with doctors, government officials and the President…..right?
Well, no……not at all……most definitely, not.
While some days it may feel like we are running a country or being called to the operating room, the truth is that we at Endangered Species constantly remind ourselves that we are abundantly fortunate to work for a company full of good people that make good stuff for a good cause. And although we believe that it’s important to make chocolate that brings joy to the people who eat it and the animals each purchase helps save, we also know that we shouldn’t take ourselves too seriously. That said, on the first day of October I sent an URGENT, HIGH PRIORITY email to the staff stating this:
EEEEKK! Huge spiders in the break room – enter if you must, but BEWARE!
Our resident spider catcher, Nick, immediately got up from his desk and headed into the infested room. Not too far behind him our Quality Manager followed, carrying a cup to help assist him in his efforts (we are a catch and release facility). A few other curious peers cautiously headed that way – if not to see the spiders but to at least witness the catching. When Nick and the others made it to the break room, they found the biggest, boldest, sweetest spiders they had ever seen……
Filled with chuckles, my office mates were happy to see that the email had been both a trick and a treat!
These spiders are not only easy to make, but they are a great activity to do with your little ones in the spirit of the spookiest season of the year.
If you plan on doing this with children, I suggest preparing the cake balls a day ahead. They will keep on a baking sheet, covered, overnight. To begin, make one 9 X 13 chocolate cake (from scratch or packaged). Let the cake cool completely. Breaking the cake in fours, crumble it into fine pieces into a bowl using your hands or a fork. Next, make 2 cups of frosting (recipe below, or purchase at your grocery store). Fold the frosting into the cake using the back of a spoon or a stiff spatula. Taking 1-2 tablespoon sized pinches at a time, roll out ½ in balls, squeezing and smoothing until all of the balls are formed. If the mixture becomes sticky or too soft, place it in the freezer for a quick chill and handling will become easier.
The prepared cake balls can be set in the refrigerator overnight, or if you are doing everything at the same time, placed in the freezer to set for up to 45 minutes. Once chilled, you will begin the decorating. Melt 3 – 4 Endangered Species Chocolate 72% Dark Chocolate bars, or one full bag of Endangered Species Chocolate Halloween Treats in the microwave. When the chocolate is completely melted and smooth, stir in one tablespoon of vegetable shortening (this is done to thin out the chocolate for easier handling and creates a better coating that will not crack). I like to set everything that I will be using out in stations to make assembly quicker. For the spiders pictured, I used pretzel rods and black sugar crystals. Eyes can be made from almond pieces, raisins, white sprinkles…and more! This is where your children can get creative. If spiders aren’t your thing, these can be made into eye balls (half a marshmallow for the whites), monsters and even pumpkins! If you are making them for an adult party, maybe just colored sprinkles will suit. It’s up to you!
To dip your creation, I suggest gently inserting a wooden skewer into the top of the ball, carefully lowering it into the chocolate, tossing the chocolate onto the piece if needed, and lightly tapping the exposed portion of the skewer before placing it on parchment. Then, using another skewer, carefully remove the rod and tap the coating to smooth. Alternatively, you can use lollipop sticks and leave them inserted to look like the spider’s “web”! These set more quickly and keep better if the finished tray of spiders and other creatures are placed in the refrigerator.