Here’s a handy recipe and guide for melting chocolate and some easy chocolate dipped recipes from Charity Ferreira.
If you’ve worked much with chocolate, you probably know that chocolate falls out of “temper” when melted. In a bar of chocolate straight from the manufacturer, the cocoa butter and chocolate solids are suspended in a delicate balance that makes the chocolate bar shiny and hard. Melting the chocolate disrupts this delicate suspension, and when the chocolate cools it can be tacky to the touch or have dull gray streaks on the surface.
When I make barks, clusters, or chocolate-dipped candy, I do two things to make sure the chocolate sets up nicely.
First, I use a modified version of the “direct method” of tempting that I read about in Chocolatier magazine several years ago. This method entails melting the chocolate so gently that it never gets hotter than 91˚F, and thus never falls out of temper in the first place. Chop the chocolate very finely; the more finely chopped, the more quickly and evenly it will melt. Place the chocolate in a metal or glass bowl that will fit on top of a pan filled with a few inches of water (the bottom of the bowl should not touch the water). Bring the water to a simmer, turn off the heat, and then place the bowl of chocolate over the hot water. Stir the chocolate frequently with a flexible spatula to encourage even melting. If you need to, you can remove the bowl, reheat the water, and replace the bowl. Once the chocolate is melted, remove the bowl from the pan, stir it well, and use it immediately. This slow, gentle melting is most important for milk chocolate and white chocolate, which will clump and refuse to melt smoothly if they get too hot.
Second, if I plan to hold on to the chocolate-dipped candy longer than a day or two, I treat it as a perishable item and store it in the refrigerator, removing it to serve or eat. This may be counter to everything you’ve heard before about storing chocolate, but it keeps the chocolate firm and fresh. Once removed from the refrigerator, the chocolate’s surface will dull after a few days.
Chocolate-Covered Graham Crackers
Hold each graham cracker by the edge over the bowl and use a pastry brush to coat the sides and edges with melted chocolate. You’ll get a little chocolate on your fingers, but that seems a small price to pay for these satisfying treats.
Yield: 24 crackers
12 whole graham crackers
12 ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, chopped
Step 1: Line 2 making sheets with waxed paper. Break each cracker in half along its perforation so that you have 24 squares.
Step 2: Melt the chocolate in a bowl set over a pan of hot water, stirring frequently until melted and smooth. Remove from the heat.
Step 3: using a clean pastry brush, coat each cracker with chocolate, covering all sides. Place on the waxed paper and refrigerate until the chocolate is firm, about 1 hour.
Step 4: Store the crackers between sheets of waxed paper in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 1 day, or in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.
Chocolate-Dipped Fresh Fruit
The best fresh fruit for dipping are whole with a thin, edible skin and no pit, like strawberries and figs. Sliced fruit is too wet for the chocolate to adhere. Use room-temperature fruit that has been rinsed and patted completely dry. If you want to cover fruit in more than one kind of chocolate (such as strawberries dipped in dark chocolate and then drizzled or partly dipped in white chocolate), let the first chocolate harden in the refrigerator, then apply the second.
Yield: 1 pound dipped fruit
6 ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, chopped
1 pound fresh strawberries or figs
2 ounces white chocolate, melted (optional)
Step 1: Line a baking sheet with waxed paper. Melt the dark chocolate in a bowl set over a pan of hot water, stirring frequently until melted and smooth. Remove from the heat.
Step 2: Hold each piece of fruit by the stem end and dip the fruit about three-fourths of the way into the chocolate, shaking any excess chocolate back into the bowl. Place it on the waxed paper.
Step 3: Refrigerate until the chocolate is set, about 1 hour. Drizzle with melted white chocolate, if desired. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and store in the refrigerator for up to 1 day.
Chocolate-Dipped Candied Citrus Peel
Yield: About 1 cup chocolate-dipped peels
8 ounces bittersweet or white chocolate, chopped
1 cup Candied Citrus Peel
Step 1: Line a baking sheet with waxed paper. Melt the chocolate in a bowl set over a pan of hot water, stirring frequently until melted and smooth. Remove from the heat.
Step 2: Dip the peels, about halfway into the chocolate, shaking any excess chocolate back into the bowl. Place the peels on the waxed paper.
Step 3: Refrigerate until firm, about 1 hour. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.