Friday, December 9, 2011

Jerri's Almond Joy and a Little Chocolate Dipping 101

It's candy making week on the blog. I say week but it's only been two actual blog posts so far. I'll try to be more ambitious in the future and do one every day of the week. Wow. I just said I could be more ambitious. That's scary.  Christmas is getting closer and some serious attention must be given to the brown snowballs. Really. We're having a great Giveaway this week too. So pop over and see what you could win. Or just stay here and look at this picture of chocolate for a few dreamy minutes. Dream. Dream. Grin. Grin.
I am a chocolate nut.  seriously.  Pastry school ruined me.  In a good way.  There are a lot of chocolate products and coatings out there.  Use what your family prefers.  Don't let me be a bad influence.  Just know in advance that there are a lot of things to know when working with chocolate, and even now I still learn something new every time I turn around.  here are a few tips that help, but there is a ton of information on the Internet and in books on working with chocolate and chocolate candy making. 
Someone asked me this week if it was okay to use chocolate chips to dip pretzels and stuff. Chocolate chips, since you asked,  are funny because if it is a higher  quality and not the cheapy stuff ( I'd say Guitard or Giradelli or Nestle Chocolaiter) and isn't heated over 130 degrees for the dark chocolates, and 120 degrees for the milk chocolate it should be fine for coating. However, and this is a big however, it's really hard to judge if it has been out in the heat or not. Once chocolate has separated due to heat, it's got to go through the whole tempering process. That's fun. I'm not even showing that today. Just know for chocolate, I'd rather see you get a good bar of the good stuff and chop it fine. To ensure it stays nice,  I use a thermometer when working with chocolate. 
 If it gets too hot, the chocolate will get white splotches on it when cooled called "bloom".  It is still safe to eat, but it looks funny.  It may even look like it was coated in a white powder if it doesn't get the splotches.  It isn't shiny and pretty like you would expect.  This is caused by overheating-- the cocoa butter will separate from the chocolate solids.  It is called being "out of temper".  If you hear the term "lose your temper" it actually started with chocolate making... getting too hot. 
 Some tips:
There are many different kinds of chocolate.

Couveture:  good quality chocolate.  This is the good stuff.  My favorite is Guitard.  By far.   No other fats/waxes are added besides cocoa butter.  Most require a tempering process where it is heated, then cooled while spreading thin and working to help the cocoa butter stay well dispersed within the chocolate.  Cocoa butter can be purchased "micro-dried"  and that stuff will help in the process.   My mom gave me a big can of it for Christmas last year, ahhh the perfect gift for a pastry chef.  Who would have thought of that?  This product  gives the cocoa butter a "seed" to hold onto within the chocolate instead of floating to the top of the melted chocolate.
Cocoa:  dry powder that remains after cocoa butter is removed.  Dutched cocoa is processed with an alkali, has a smoother flavor, and dissolves better than other cocoa.
Bitter chocolate:  straight chocolate liquor.
Sweet Chocolate:  as little as 15% liquor, no milk solids (not milk chocolate)
Milk Chocolate:  Sweet chocolate with milk solids added, used as a coating on confections.
Less expensive chocolate has part of he cocoa butter replaced with other fats.  They don't require tempering but don't have the same eating quality of chocolate.  Choose your audience...and your budget.  With chocolate chips it may be a good idea to add some of the "coating", but maybe only one square that way it will keep from losing it's temper, but not have a waxy aftertaste--this also depends on the coating as some like "Wilton" don't have a strong wax-i-ness, while the candy quick is pretty stiff--but good for chocolate sculptures here in the heat.  Those are my thoughts.  I like the white coating for pretzels for kids parties and for putting in a bag an making decorations squeezed out on waxed paper to top cupcakes.  It doesn't melt very quickly and in Arizona we do have to modify things sometimes because of the heat.  If however it was for a client, it would be real chocolate.  A lot of them are very particular about that.  I am always happy to use the real stuff.   So for working with the regular chocolate, here are some important tips: 
Watch the temperature.
Critical temperatures:
Milk Chocolate/White Chocolate : never heat over 122 degrees and keep it lower if possible, I try to keep it right around 86.
Dark Chocolate:  never heat over 131 degrees.  I keep it at 89. If one section gets too hot and it's mixed into the cooler chocolate you may run the risk of the chocolate separating. It will depend but don't risk it. I start new batches when in doubt.
Melt it slowly  in granny's double boiler. Okay. If you don't have granny's double boiler, then you can use a metal bowl over a pan. Just be very, very, very good at stirring often and watching your temperatures. Don't crank up the heat. Slow over time is better.
The best way to  melt chocolate is in a double boiler over a simmering water, not boiling.  Stir constantly, and check the temperature often.  Keep the room were you are working with chocolate pretty cool... between 65 and 77 degrees. Oh, and don't eat it all before you coat things with it.  That is a big one
No Water. Never allow chocolate to have water or moisture of any kind come in contact with it. The chocolate will "seize" and no longer be able to be used as dipping chocolate.

How do you get pretty chocolates?

 When dipping, use a fork or Chocolate dipping prong. This will allow excess chocolate to drizzle off the product and give you clean pretty chocolates instead of ones "with feet:

A few years ago my friend Jerri sent me this recipe. It has found a home for the Holidays with us every year since. 
 Jerri's Recipe for Coconut Bon Bon  "Almond Joy"

* 3/4 cup Karo syrup (I use 3/4 cup honey)
* 2 1/2 cups dry macaroon coconut ( I get mine at Honeyville in a 5 lb bag)
* 1/2-1 teaspoon almond extract (depends on how strong an almond flavor you wish)
* almonds (if you want the almond joy type)
* 10 ounces chocolate Couveture 
1. Toast the almonds in the oven at 400F just till they are warm and you can start to smell them (3-5 min); set aside.
2. Bring the Karo or honey to a boil and add the coconut, remove from heat and add extract. 

3. Place in fridge till firm.
4. Form into round balls or ovals and place on waxed paper -- press 1 almond to each ball or 2 to each oval and chill for 1/2 hour. It helps to moisten your hands a little when making the balls.  I didn't use the almonds this time. I just rounded into balls. I would not suggest putting them in the freezer.

When I put mine in the freezer they came out like this...
Dang freezer elves. I really need to increase their freezer survival rations.  They make snow men...They've also been eating the frozen cookie dough. {I swear it was the elves...}
When you put them in the fridge they come out like this.
5. Melt the chocolate in a double boiler. Watch your temperatures (I never go over 89 degrees). It helps to put your face really close to the pot. It will get chocolate up your nose and increase your popularity. Okay. I lied. You won't be popular with brown stuff on your nose.
6. Dip each candy-dandy-licious center into the chocolate; coat evenly and completely. Place on a wax paper lined cookie sheet until chocolate is set.
I highly recommend taking them to the window and letting them see some sunlight. 
Allow to cool at room temperature. This helps the chocolate not to separate. 

Place in candy liners. 
7. Store in a airtight container. Hide container from the elves.
There you go. Tomorrow I will be spending a few hours with Evil Tara in the  ETT (Evil Think Tank). Be afraid. Galactic destruction and general chocolate chaos are sure to ensue! Until then, dip something. I want to hear all about your chocolate adventures! Xoxo! Smooooches!
Always My Very Best,
Your Friend Chef Tess

1 comment:

mlebagley said...

Almond joys are my favorite! Aren't these mounds if they don't have that almond smooshed into them? So if you chopped up almonds and added to the coconut would that work? Once again you have me sitting here drooling! Thanks for the great chocolate advise - looks like a winner!