Sunday, July 12, 2009

Coating Chocolate Truffles

As said previously, chocolate has several crystal forming points. Know how chocolate chip cookies have soft bits of chocolate in them? Or how fudge sauce hardens to a sort of dull consistency? That's what you want to avoid here. In order for chocolate to harden to get that "snap" quality when you break it, and to maintain a glossy appearance after it hardens, it needs to be tempered. Which is to say, it needs to be heated to above 105 degrees F to eliminate the softer form of crystals, let cool until below 90 degrees F, and then some small amount of properly-crystalized chocolate needs to be added in to get it to form the right structure.

Deep breath. It's not so bad. Use your thermometer! And use a microwave, so you can control the temperature of very small amounts of ingredients.

8 oz chocolate
Something to coat in chocolate-- 1 recipe of chocolate truffle centers, dried fruit, pretzels...
Candied zest, dried fruit, sprinkles, for decoration (optional: see below)

THERMOMETER, which reads the 80 to 100 degree F range accurately.
Knife & cutting board
A couple of microwave-safe bowls.
Wax paper or aluminum foil.

1. Chop chocolate very fine.
2. Reserve about 1 teaspoon.
3. Nuke the rest of the chocolate for 2 minutes and stir every 30 seconds. It does not have to be totally smooth-- residual heat will serve to melt any remaining bits.
4. Measure temperature-- if above 105 F, stop. If not above 105 F, heat for a few more seconds.
5. Let mixture cool to below 90 F-- I find transferring it to a cooler bowl helps get to the right temperature with reasonable speed, especially in the summer when the kitchen is hot.
6. Then, keeping mixture between 80 and 90 F, stir in reserved chocolate (for seed crystals). Maintain temperature as you dip balls of chocolate in. A hot pad or very warm kitchen helps. 7. Optional: Put zest, dried fruit, sprinkles, etc on top of candies before they completely harden.

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