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Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Spontaneous Dipping Tutorial

In the comments section of the Peanut Butter Bon Bons, my sister Tona has asked for a dipping tutorial. I am not a chocolatier but I know a little and here it is:

Chocolate melts at around 80-100 degrees Farenheit so it's easy to scorch, which is irreparable. Also, it must not come into contact with water while melting; otherwise, it will seize, becoming grainy and lumpy. Yuck. If that happens, you may be able to save it by adding a taste-free vegetable oil (canola, not olive) or warm water by the teaspoon to the melted chocolate in a saucepan. Stir constantly until the chocolate returns to a smooth state.

If you're melting chocolate by itself, double boiler (official or makeshift) is the way to go. Make sure the bottom of the chocolate pan doesn't actually touch the water of the bottom pan, but is just heated by the steam.

Chocolate retains its shape when melting so you must stir it to see how melted it is. When it is almost all melted, remove from heat and stir until smooth.

You can melt chocolate in the microwave but it's risky because it is so easy to overheat. If you do use the microwave, do on 50% power for short intervals (20 seconds or less), stirring in between.

If you're melting chocolate with something, like shortening for dipping, or cream for ganache, you can do it right over the flame, but keep it very low and slow and stir often. Stay close and watch it. When it seems almost melted, remove and stir until smooth. There is no rushing or shortcutting melted chocolate.

The reason to add shortening to chocolate for dipping (bon bons, biscotti, strawberries, etc.) is that it makes the chocolate smoother and allows for more even coverage. It also reduces the chocolate's tendency to bloom once hardened, that light powdery looking crust that can develop. You can't substitute butter or margarine for the shortening because they both contain water and then you have the seizing problem mention above. The typical ratio is 1/2 tsp shortening to each ounce of chocolate (so since I use 12 oz. chocolate for the bon bons, that's 6 tsp or 2 T shortening. I actually used a bit less, just over 1 T, and it was OK.)

Once you have a nice smooth melted chocolate, put your bon bon on a fork and dip it in. If the chocolate is too shallow to cover it, roll it around until covered, then lift out on the fork, holding for a moment to let excess drip off, or shake it gently to let excess drip off. If chocolate thickens too much while it cools, warm gently again over low heat or bowl of hot water.

Happy Dipping!

1 comment:

tona said...

THANK YOU!! I have never had it not turn out grainy & now I know why. You're the best. Let's dip when I'm down there over Christmas. xox

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