Choosing right chocolate:
Handmade chocolates is all about choosing right chocolate. Picking a excellent quality chocolate is important. Caution on using grocery store inexpensive chocolate for coating just doesn’t work well. To many recipes use semi sweet chocolate chips which are inexpensive way to coat chocolates, leaving very thick hard to handle coating. To achieve better coating use a higher quality chocolate. The best results is using a couverture chocolate. Couverture has a higher amount of cocoa butter and chocolate liquor. Buying small bars of quality chocolate Is very expensive, about $2.99 for 3.5 ounces makes $13.67 pound. My favorite dark chocolate is Felchlin Gastro 58%, it’s has a pleasant chocolate profile, not too sweet or bitter flavor.
The all time Chocolate favorite is white chocolate. The sweet creamy rich slightly vanilla flavor profile can seduce you into a true white chocolate lover. Caution on the cheap white chips sold in grocery store! These white chips are very sweet and are imitation of White chocolate. Looking closely to label the chips contains imitation palm kernel oil. To really be white chocolate it should contain 20 to 36% cocoa butter. The cocoa butter is what makes white chocolate a real chocolate. Great caution in melting and tempering white chocolate, it can become ruined easily.
Melt White chocolate over a warm water bath. The water bath should never be boiling. For best results keep the water bath temperature between 160 to 190 degrees. Stirring chocolate constantly, making sure no water gets into chocolate. Moisture is enemy of chocolate, anything that contains high amounts of water seizes chocolate.
Milk chocolate is the true chocolate lovers passion, it’s sweet and creamy flavor has a hint of caramel notes. Use couverture milk chocolate has 35 to 38% chocolate liquor, with some extra added cocoa butter. The mild smooth and sweet taste of milk chocolate comes from the milk solids, sugar and added flavorings. Melting chocolate use a water bath, making sure not get the chocolate too warm. Keep the water bath temperature between 160 to 190 degrees, stirring constantly.
The table method is old school chocolate tempering method. This technique is pouring 2/3 of properly warmed chocolate onto heavy large marble slab. Immediately start working the chocolate back and forth with scrapers. The worked chocolate will become very thick. Quickly scrap the thicken chocolate into remaining warm chocolate. Next start stirring cooling down to 80 to 84 degrees. This chocolate needs to be heated to 87 to 88 degrees workable temperature. This technique is a little more messy and requires large marble slab. The table method works well takes practice to prefect the technique.
How to temper couverture chocolate is very important. There is many techniques to accomplish well tempered couverture chocolates, my favorite is seeding method. The seeding method provides the best results, and it’s not as messy as tabling method. It’s important to have all the cocoa butter crystals evenly distributed throughout the chocolate.
The seeding methods is the popular method for tempering chocolate. Seeding method adds about 1/4 to 1/3 total amount of prefect tempered chocolate to properly melted chocolate. This chocolate is now cooled down to a target temperature of 80 to 84 degrees. Now remove of any remaining unmelted seeding chocolate . The chocolate is very thick, and too hard to work with. Thous the chocolate needs to be warmed to 87 to 88 degrees, a perfect working temperature for dipping and molding.
Using ChocoVision Tempering Machine REV2 makes work easier.
Chocolate Tempering Temperatures:
Different types of chocolates have different tempering temperatures, which depends on the chocolate composition. General rules are Dark Chocolates have higher melting point for cocoa butter to become completely melted. Be sure to stir chocolate throughout the tempering process to keep an even disturbing of the cocoa butter. The target melting range is 118 to 122 degrees for dark chocolate to completely melt all the cocoa butter. Where milk chocolate and white chocolate target melting range is 106 to 108 degrees to melt all the cocoa butter. Now the chocolate needs to be cooled down using seeding technique or tabling technique.
Heating any chocolate too far past target melting range can cause damage to chocolate. Leaving chocolate unusable for most applications.
Cooling chocolate starts crystallizing the cocoa butter, over a range of temperatures. By using the seeding method helps create a more evenly developed chocolate crystal structure.
A properly developed chocolate crystal structure will provide a good snap to the chocolate. I addition the chocolate has a shiny surface without streaks.
Cooling the chocolate down by stirring constantly is important, helping to distribute Cocoa butter crystals evenly. The chocolate will become thicker throughout the cooling process. Now the chocolate reaches 82 degrees all the cocoa butter crystals will be formed. Taking chocolate too far below target cool down range can cause chocolate to harden quickly. Therefore the chocolate needs to be carefully warmed to a good workable temperature, that is between 87 and 88 degrees. Heating chocolate past 90 degrees can take the chocolate totally out of temperature. Out of temperature chocolate doesn’t setup properly, causing sticking to molds, lacking right chocolate shine.
Creative center fillings:
What sets the handmade chocolates apart from manufactured chocolates is special creative fillings. Selection of center filling has a infinite possibilities. Using proper techniques adding the right ingredients gives chocolates a unique profile.
Chocolate Center Possibilities:
Caramels center is one favorite type of filling to be dipped into tempered couverture chocolate. The Honey Bourbon Caramel filling takes caramel centers to new levels of tasty. This caramel has a butterscotch taste with a Honey Bourbon finish. Dipping this caramel filling into milk chocolate or dark chocolate is winner. Finally garnished with a sprinkle of pecans just before chocolate set up provides great looking chocolate.
Starting off simple
The first time making handmade chocolates try chocolate truffles, they are fairly easy to make and taste decadent. The Grand Marnier Dark Chocolate Truffles is a perfect starting point in chocolate making. Dark Couverture Chocolate is easy to temper properly. Tempering over water bath is classic way, but using microwave at 50% power works faster. Just remember not to overheat chocolate, keep chocolate temperature to no higher them 108 to 110 degrees. Best results is getting a tempering machine like ChocoVision REV2. It’s an investment but well worth cost. Try my Chocolate Grand Marnier Truffles they are so good it will put smile on face and a happy dance.
Hot Cinnamon Truffles recipe link more about tempering chocolate techniques.