Sunday, November 17, 2013

Chocolates for Christmas the Easy Way

I know of two ways to coat your candy centers with chocolate; the first is to use tempered dipping chocolate. The second is to use molding chocolate sometimes called summer coating or candy coating.  Summer coating is so called because it can be used in the summer when temperatures are too warm in the typical kitchen to temper fine dipping chocolate. Fine chocolate when melted will tend to separate into chocolate solids and cocoa butter. After the candy center has been dipped in untempered chocolate and cooled within a few weeks the chocolates will "bloom." White streaks will appear in the brown chocolate. The chocolate is perfectly good and tasty, but not beautiful. Here is a terrific explanation of tempering chocolate--Chocolate Tempering.

In the last decade delicious molding chocolates have become available to the home cook. In the past they were nasty at least to me. Guittard's and Peter are fine chocolate brands that provide both fine dipping and, also, molding chocolate (summer/candy coating).
Molding Chocolate or Summer/Candy Coating

Fine Dipping Chocolate
Summer coating can be easily melted in the microwave. When melting the coating use short bursts of microwaving i.e. 45-60 second bursts on full power. Be careful because microwaves differ in power level while on full power and summer coating can burn. Once the coating is melted in the microwave you can keep it melted by putting it in a bowl in an electric skillet on the skillet's lowest temperature setting. Put the skillet's lid on it and that will trap the heat and keep the coating perfect for dipping candy centers. 
Here's a set up example of the electric skillet and candy coating bowls.
You may have noticed a variety of chocolate molds at places like Joann's, Michael's and Hobby Lobby. Summer coating or molding chocolate is used in these molds. The coating will pop out of the mold once it has cooled. Fine dipping chocolate will not nicely pop out of these molds. I will fill the chocolate mold with molding chocolate/summer coating and place the mold in a level spot of my freezer for about a minute. Take out the mold and the lovely chocolaty creation falls right out of it's divot.

Note: the molding chocolate looks too cool in this photo.
Warm it up just a bit and molding will be easier.

Molding chocolate is useful for dipping strawberries (completely dry strawberries), pretzel sticks, Oreos, Pecan Sandies and salted nuts--yes, salted. Yum. I even dipped half of a perfectly ripe bartlett pear and boxed it for my visiting teaching gals. What a way to eat fruit. 

Relax and be creative with molding chocolate. Get your kids involved. Leave the fine 10 lb. block of dipping chocolate on your own personal cutting board with a sturdy knife nearby for whittle.

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