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Types of chocolate

We recommend three types of chocolate products for dipping.

Semisweet chocolate contains at least 35 percent chocolate liquor (a liquid paste extracted from the cocoa bean), additional cocoa butter (a vegetable fat obtained from the cocoa bean), and sugar. This product requires tempering.

Milk chocolate contains at least 10 percent chocolate liquor, 12 percent whole milk solids, and additional cocoa butter.

Both products are available as chocolate pieces, in block form or in round disks.

Confectioner's coating is a general term used for a variety of chocolatelike products. Most of the cocoa butter has been removed and replaced by another vegetable fat. Vanilla, vanillin, or other flavors, plus vegetable coloring, frequently are added to confectioner's coating. Confectioner's coating is sometimes called white chocolate, almond bark, or summer coating. Confectioner's coating does not require tempering; simply chop and melt it.

Tempering chocolate

The phrase "tempering chocolate" refers to the process of melting and cooling chocolate to the correct dipping temperature.

As chocolate melts, the cocoa butter separates from the chocolate liquor. Then, as the mixture cools, the cocoa butter blends evenly back into the chocolate liquor. Without tempering, the surface of the chocolate will speckle or develop gray streaks as it hardens. Known as "blooming," this affects only the appearance, not the quality or flavor.

Dip chocolates on a cool, dry day (60 to 65). Use 1 to 1 1/2 pounds of chocolate for dipping to ensure maximum coverage of centers.

Finely chop the chocolate so it will melt quickly and evenly. Place water in bottom of a double boiler to within 1/2-inch of the upper pan. Make sure the upper pan does not touch the water, or the chocolate could be overheated. Bring water to boiling; remove from heat. Place about one-fourth of the chocolate in top of double boiler; set over hot water till chocolate begins to melt. Add remaining chocolate, about 1/2 cup at a time, stirring constantly after each addition till melted. Stir till chocolate reaches 120.

If necessary to help chocolate reach 120 , reheat water. To reheat water remove upper pan of chocolate. Bring water to boiling; remove from heat. Then place upper pan over hot water again. (Use care not to let any water fall into the chocolate, or chocolate will thicken and be ruined.)

After chocolate has reached 120, refill bottom of the double boiler with cool water to within 1/2 inch of the upper pan. Place chocolate over cool water. Stir frequently till the chocolate cools to 83. This should take about 30 minutes.

When dipping, work quickly, stirring chocolate frequently to keep it evenly heated. Chocolate will stay close to dipping temperature (83) about 30 minutes. If chocolate cools to below 80, you will need to retemper it.

Dipping centers

Drop centers, one at a time, into melted chocolate or confectioner's coating; turn to coat. Lift center out; draw fork across rim of pan to remove excess chocolate. Invert onto a baking sheet lined with waxed paper. Twist fork slightly as candy falls so you can swirl the top.(If a lot of chocolate pools at base, next time let more chocolate drip off fork.)

Melting Chocolate for purposes other than dipping

Direct Heat: This is a common and convenient method for melting chocolate. Place the chocolate in a heavy saucepan over low heat, stirring constantly till the chocolate begins to melt. Immediately remove the chocolate from the heat and stir till smooth.

Double Boiler: This is one of the best methods to use to avoid scorching the chocolate. Place water in the bottom of a double boiler so that it comes to within 1/2 inch of the upper pan (water should not touch the upper pan). Put the chocolate in the upper pan of the double boiler and place it over the water in the lower pan. Place the double boiler over low heat. Stir constantly till chocolate is melted. (The water in the double boiler should not come to boiling while the chocolate is melting.)

Water Bath: This method works will when melting a small amount of chocolate. Place the chocolate in a custard cup or small bowl; carefully set the cup in a pan of hot (not boiling) water over very low heat. Stir constantly till chocolate is just melted, making sure that none of the water splashes into the chocolate. Remove the cup from the water and stir till the chocolate is smooth.

Microwave Oven: To melt chocolate pieces, place chocolate in a glass measure or a custard cup. Micro-cook chocolate pieces, uncovered, on high power till chocolate is almost melted. Remove from oven and stir till melted and smooth. Allow 2 minutes for 1 cup chocolate pieces. To melt chocolate squares, unwrap the chocolate and place it in a custard cup or small nonmetal bowl.


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