The August 2011 Daring Bakers’ Challenge was hosted by Lisa of Parsley, Sage, Desserts and Line Drive and Mandy of What the Fruitcake?!. These two sugar mavens challenged us to make sinfully delicious candies! This was a special challenge for the Daring Bakers because the good folks at Chocoley offered an amazing prize for the winner of the most creative and delicious candy. The requirements for this month’s challenge were to make one chocolate candy – either a truffle or a cut & dipped chocolate bonbon or a filled chocolate bonbon using a mould – and another candy of our choice. For filling, we could use ganache, marzipan, nut paste, fudge, caramel, brownie bites, nougat or anything else solid enough to be cut into squares and hold their shape.

What is tempering?
“Tempering is a method of heating and cooling chocolate in order to use it for coating or dipping. Proper tempering gives chocolate a smooth and glossy finish. Tempered chocolate will have a crisp snap and won’t melt on your fingers as easily as improperly tempered chocolate. Properly tempered chocolate is also great for molding candies because the candies will release out of the molds more easily and still retain a glossy finish.” – Ghirardelli

Why is it necessary?
If you simply melt chocolate and let it cool it will set with unattractive grey streaks or spots, called blooming. If eaten, the texture will be grainy and it won’t melt smoothly in the mouth. When you temper chocolate the end result is shiny, even colored, smooth melting and with a crisp snap. Basically, tempered chocolate is what you want because it’s better in every way. The reason for the difference is a bit complicated, it has to do with different types of crystals forming in the cocoa butter at different times, to understand it fully you’d have to learn about the behavior of the chocolate crystals at a molecular level. For our purposes all that we need to know is that with tempered chocolate the crystals have formed in a uniform way which gives us great looking and tasting chocolate.

What is couverture chocolate?
Couverture chocolate is a very high quality chocolate that contains extra cocoa butter (32-39%). The higher percentage of cocoa butter, combined with proper tempering, gives the chocolate more sheen, firmer “snap” when broken, and a creamy mellow flavor. The total “percentage” cited on many brands of chocolate is based on some combination of cocoa butter in relation to cocoa solids (cacao). In order to be properly labeled as “couverture”, the percentage of cocoa butter must be between 32% and 39%, and the total percentage of the combined cocoa butter plus cocoa solids must be at least 54%. Sugar makes up the remainder, and up to 1% may be made up of vanilla, and sometimes soy lecithin. Couverture is used by professionals for dipping, coating, molding and garnishing.

Why is it important to use couverture for chocolate making?
It is by far a superior product to the average chocolate bar like Cadbury’s etc. which may also contain ingredients like vegetable/coconut/palm oil, hydrogenated fats and sometimes artificial chocolate flavoring which can have unpredictable results when tempering and used to make your own chocolates. As far as flavor, couverture chocolate is also superior in this regard as manufacturers like Valrhona, Callebaut etc. are very strict with sourcing their cocoa pods and only buy the best. Basically, to get a great end result you need to use the best ingredients that you can get. That applies to all baking and cooking, and especially to chocolate making.

TEMPERING CHOCOLATE 

Method 1: On Marble or Granite

Tempering Ranges:

Celcius
Dark: 45°C-50°C > 27°C > 32°C  
Milk: 45°C > 27°C > 30°C
White: 45°C > 27°C > 29°C

Fahrenheit
Dark: 113°F-122°F > 80.6°F > 89.6°F
Milk: 113°F > 80.6°F > 86°F
White: 113°F > 80.6°F > 84.2°F

Method:

  • Finely chop chocolate if in bar/slab form. Place chocolate in a heatproof bowl.
  • Place bowl over a saucepan of simmering water (make sure the bowl does not touch the water).
  • Make sure that your bowl fits snuggly into the saucepan so that there’s no chance of steam forming droplets that may fall into your chocolate. If water gets into your chocolate it will seize!

  • Using a rubber spatula, gently stir the chocolate so that it melts evenly.
  • Once melted, keep an eye on the thermometer, as soon as it reaches 45°C or 113°F. Remove from heat.
  • Pour ¾ of the melted chocolate onto a marble or granite slab or worktop.
  • Using a scraper or large palette knife move the chocolate around the surface to help it cool.
  • Keep the motions neat and tidy, if you’re not working with a lot of chocolate you don’t want to spread it too far otherwise you may end up with chocolate that begins to cool too quickly and start to set as well as drops below the necessary temperature.
  • Use a motion that folds the chocolate on itself. Check temperature regularly with a thermometer. 

 

  • Once it reaches 27°C / 80°F put chocolate back into the heatproof bowl with remaining chocolate. 
  • Gently stir together with a rubber spatula. Check the temperature to see if it’s risen back up to the working temperature of the chocolate (milk, dark or white) as seen in the above chart.
  • If the temperature has not risen to its working temperature, put the bowl back over the simmering water, stirring gently.
  • You really need to keep an eye on the temperature as it can rise quicker than you think, so as soon as it’s up to its working temperature, remove from heat. It’s now tempered and ready to use.

  • If you’re using the chocolate to dip a lot of truffles etc. which means the chocolate will be sitting off heat for a while it will naturally start to thicken as it cools. To keep it at an ideal viscosity for even coating, put the bowl over steam for 30sec-1min every 5-10mins, just do not let the temperature go over the working temperature!
  • Having the chocolate in a warmed glass bowl and wrapped in hot kitchen towel can also help keep the chocolate at its working temperature for longer. It is also easier to keep the heat if working with larger amounts of chocolate rather than small amounts.
  • Any leftover chocolate can be kept to be used later and then re-tempered. Remember, don’t let any water get into your chocolate at any stage of the tempering process!

Method 2: With Tempered Chocolate Pieces/Seeding

 

Tempering Ranges:

Celsius
Dark: 45°C-50°C > 27°C > 32°C
Milk: 45°C > 27°C > 30°C
White: 45°C > 27°C > 29°C

Fahrenheit
Dark: 113°F-122°F > 80.6°F > 89.6°F
Milk: 113°F > 80.6°F > 86°F
White: 113°F > 80.6°F > 84.2°F

Method:

  • Finely chop chocolate if in bar/slab form (about the size of almonds). Place about ⅔ of the chocolate in a heatproof bowl.
  • Set aside ⅓ of the chocolate pieces. Place bowl over a saucepan of simmering water (make sure bowl does not touch water).
  • Make sure that your bowl fits snuggly into the saucepan so that there’s no chance of steam forming droplets that may fall into your chocolate. If water gets into your chocolate it will seize!
  • Using a rubber spatula, gently stir the chocolate so that it melts evenly. Once it’s melted, keep an eye on the thermometer, as soon as it reaches 45°C / 113°F remove from heat (between 45°C-50°C / 113°F-122°F for dark chocolate).
  • Add small amounts of the remaining ⅓ un-melted chocolate seeds and stir in to melt. Continue to add small additions of chocolate until you’ve brought it down to 27°C/80.6°F (You can bring dark chocolate down to betwn 80°F and 82°F).

 

  • Put it back on the double boiler and bring the temperature back up until it reaches its working temperature of the chocolate (milk, dark or white) as seen in the above chart. (32°C/89.6°F for dark, 30°C/86°F for milk and 29°C/84.2°F for white).
  • If you still have a few un-melted bits of chocolate, put the bowl back over the simmering water, stirring gently and watching the thermometer constantly.You really need to keep an eye on the temperature so that it doesn’t go over its working temperature.
  • It’s now tempered and ready to use. Another way of adding the “seed” is by dropping in one large chunk of tempered chocolate (the seed). That way you only need to fish out one piece of unmelted chocoalte and don’t need to fish out several small bits of unmelted chocolate once the chocolate has reached temper.

 

TRUFFLES

 Ingredients:

1 ¾ cup (9 oz/250 gm) Dark/Bittersweet Chocolate, finely chopped
2/3 cup (5 oz / 160 ml) Double/Heavy Cream (36% – 48% butterfat)
OR
1 ¾ cup (9 oz/250 gm) Milk Chocolate, finely chopped
1/2 cup (4 oz / 120 ml) Double/Heavy Cream (36% – 48% butterfat)

OR
1 ¾ cup (9 oz/250 gm) White Chocolate, finely chopped
¼ cup (2 oz / 60 ml) Double/Heavy Cream (36% – 48% butterfat)

Flavor Ideas

Various Spices (Chili Powder, Cardamom, Wasabi Paste or Powder, Ginger, Cinnamon etc.)
Instant Coffee Granules or Espresso
Matcha, Chai and Various Teas
Liqueurs (Amaretto, Chambord, Kahlua, Frangelico, Rum, Brandy, Vodka etc.)
Zests (Orange, Lemon, Lime etc.)
Herbs (Basil, Thyme, Mint, etc.)
Malted Milk Powders
Nut Pastes or Butters

The amount of flavorings are dependent on either the recipe you use, the amount of chocolate and cream, and frankly, your own taste. Start by adding a tsp, try it, then add more to taste, up to as much as 3 tbs. If you are using fresh or whole/solid flavorings such as fresh herbs, cardamom pods, cinnamon sticks, vanilla pods, simmer in the cream then remove from heat and let steep for an hour. After steeping, strain away solids, return the cream to a simmer, and proceed with recipe. When using liqueurs or alcohol to flavor, don’t add more than 3 tbs for the given quantities in the given recipe. Too much alcohol can inhibit ganache from setting properly.

Making The Ganache

  • Finely chop or grate the chocolate. Place in a heatproof bowl.
  • In a saucepan, heat cream until just about to boil (it will start bubbling around the edges of the pot).
  • Pour the cream over the chocolate. Gently stir the mixture until all the chocolate has melted and it is smooth.
  • If you end up with pieces of chocolate that won’t melt, put the bowl over simmering water (but not touching the water).
  • Stir gently until it’s all melted. Be careful if you do need to heat it over simmering water. If the mixture gets too hot it will split and you’ll end up with gooey chocolate swimming in oil. Stir in your desired flavorings.
  • Ganache can either be used to make rolled truffles or cut into squares and then dipped in chocolate, which is called a bonbon.

For Rolled Truffles

  •  Allow the ganache to firm up in a container of choice, preferably deep rather than shallow.
  • Using a teaspoon or melon baller, scoop up room temperature ganache.
  • With gloved hands, roll the balls between your palms to round them off.
  • Dip in tempered chocolate or roll them in something that compliments them or gives a hint to their flavor.
  • If dipping in chocolate, it’s best to refrigerate ganache before so that it’s firm and does not melt from the warm chocolate.
  • For a thicker chocolate shell, dip once in tempered chocolate and allow to set. Then do a second dipping or smear a small amount of chocolate over the truffle and roll in desired ingredients. Place on parchment paper until set.
  • For the best tasting truffles, a high quality chocolate is ideal, especially one that is 62% cacao or higher.

For Cut Chocolate Bonbons

  • Double line a shallow tray with cling film. Pour the ganache into the tray and smooth the top.
  • Once set, warm a knife with hot water then wipe dry. Cut into squares. Dip each square in tempered chocolate.
  • Place on parchment paper. Decorate and allow to set. Trim off any feet with a sharp knife

Coating Ideas

1. Melted, Tempered Chocolate
2. Cocoa Powder
3. Confectioner’s Sugar
4. Chopped or Ground Nuts
5. Chocolate Sprinkles
6. Flaked, Shredded or Desiccated Coconut
7. Cacao Nibs
8. Ground Praline
9. Grated Chocolate

How to dip or enrobe with tempered chocolate

  • Temper the chocolate using either the marble top or seeding method.
  • Once the chocolate is in temper, gently lower your truffle or candy into the tempered chocolate with your dipping fork.
  • Gently remove the candy once it’s been fully submerged. It’s best to use a bowl that’s deep rather than shallow so that the truffle is easily covered. Tap fork on the side of the bowl to remove excess chocolate.

 

  • Scrape off excess chocolate from under the dipping fork on the side of the bowl. Place dipped truffle/candy on parchment paper, decorate as you wish and allow to set. Once the chocolate has hardened, trim off any “feet” with a sharp knife.
  • Try to handle the chocolate as little as possible or wear food safe gloves to that you don’t leave fingerprints on the chocolate.
  • To help the chocolate to harden faster, you can place the chocolate into the fridge for 15-20mins, but avoid leaving them in for longer than that so as to avoid any “sweating” (water droplets forming on the chocolate).

How to make filled chocolate with molds

  • If using colored cocoa butter and plastic molds, paint designs at the bottom of the wells in each mold. Let dry. You can also use lustre dusts mixed with a bit of extract or vodka, instead of colored cocoa butters for a nice sheen. Let painted molds dry.
  • While holding mold over bowl of tempered chocolate, take a nice ladle of the chocolate and pour over the mold, making sure it cover and fills every well. Knock the mold a few times against a flat surface to get rid of air bubbles.

 

  • Then turn mold upside down over the bowl of chocolate, and knock out the excess chocolate.
  • Turn right side up and drag a bench or plastic scraper across so all the chocolate in between the wells is scraped off cleanly, leaving you with only chocolate filled wells. Put in the fridge to set, about 5 to 10 minutes.

 

  • You may take a small brush and paint the tempered chocolate into each mold, or spoon it in if you’d like.
  • Remove from refrigerator and fill each well with the filling of your choice.
  • Again take a ladle of chocolate and pour it on top of the filled chocolate wells, knocking against a flat surface to settle it in.
  • Scrape excess chocolate off the mold with bench scraper then refrigerate until set. When set, pop chocolates out of each well.

 
HAZELNUT PRALINE TRUFFLES

 Ingredients:

½ cup (2 oz/60 gm) hazelnuts, shelled & skinned

½ cup (4 oz/115 gm) granulated white sugar

2 tablespoons (30 ml) water

1¾ cup (9 oz. / 255 g) Milk chocolate, finely chopped

½ cup (4 oz. / 125 ml) Double/Heavy Cream (36% – 46% butterfat content)

2-3 Tablespoons (1-1 ½ oz. / 30ml – 45 ml) Frangelico Liqueur, optional

½ – 1 cup Crushed or Ground Roasted Hazelnuts for coating

 Method:

  • Preheat oven to moderate 180°C / 160°C Fan Assisted (convection oven); 350°F / 320°F convection / Gas Mark 4.
  • Place whole hazelnut on a non-stick baking tray and dry roast for 10mins. Allow to cool.
  • Place hazelnuts in a clean dry kitchen towel and rub to remove the skins.
  • Line a baking tray with parchment paper or a silicon mat. Place the skinned hazelnuts onto the prepared tray.
  • Combine the sugar and water in a saucepan over medium low heat, stirring until the sugar is dissolved.
  • Turn the heat up and bring to the boil (do not stir), brushing down the sides of the pot with a pastry brush dipped in water to remove any sugar crystals. Boil until the mixture turns amber (160°C – 170°C / 320°F- 340°F on a candy thermometer).

 

  • Remove from heat immediately and pour the syrup over the hazelnuts. Allow to cool completely.
  • Break into small pieces. Transfer pieces to a food processor and process until desired texture, either fine or rough. Set aside.
  • For the ganache, finely chop the milk chocolate. Place into a heatproof medium sized bowl.
  • Heat cream in a saucepan until just about to boil. Pour the cream over the chocolate and stir gently until smooth and melted.
  • Allow to cool slightly, about 10 minutes. Stir in the praline and (optional) liqueur. 

  • Leave to cool and set overnight or for a few hours in the fridge. Bring to room temperature to use.
  • To form the truffles, use a teaspoon or a melon baller to scoop round balls of ganache.
  • Roll them between the palms of your hands to round them off. Handle them as little as possible to avoid melting.
  • Finish off by rolling the truffle in the crushed roasted hazelnuts. You can also roll them in hazelnut praline.
  • Place on parchment paper and leave to set. They look great when put into small petit four cases and boxed up as a gift!

 

CHOCOLATE DIPPED NOUGAT BONBONS

Ingredients:

1½ cups (17½ oz/500gm) Marzipan or Nougat

1/2 cup (2 oz/60gm) Pistachios, shelled & peeled, whole or roughly chopped

1/2 cup (3 oz/90gm) Candied Orange Peel, Finely cut

2 tablespoons (1 oz / 30ml) Cointreau or Grand Marnier Liqueur, optional

1¾ cups (9 oz/250 gm) white chocolate

Method:

  • If using liqueur, pour Cointreau or Grand Marnier over candied orange peel. Cover and allow to soak overnight.
  • Knead the soaked peel & pistachios into the marzipan until well distributed.
  • Using a small amount of icing sugar to stop the marzipan from sticking, roll out to a height of about 2cm.
  • Cut into squares. Temper the white chocolate. Carefully lower each square of marzipan into the chocolate with a dipping fork.

  • Tap the fork on the side of the bowl to remove excess chocolate. Place chocolate on parchment paper.
  • Decorate as you like. You can use transfers or sprinkle crushed pistachio or candied peel.
  • You can also wait for the chocolate to be semi set then use your dipping fork to mark the top of the chocolate.
  • Once fully set, cut off any feet with a sharp knife.

Chocolate bark is really fun & easy to make (kids love making this stuff!). You can also decorate it with almost anything you like, nuts, dried fruits, seeds, crushed candies, honeycomb etc. The whole idea of chocolate bark is that it’s rough in texture and look, just like bark. You can cut it in neat squares, or my favorite, break it up in rough pieces. It’s also great to use up left over tempered chocolate, either plain or if you’ve mixed in crushed nuts to use for coating truffles.

CHOCOLATE BARK

Ingredients:

Milk/Dark/White Chocolate, tempered (any amount, from 7 oz. (200g) to 14 oz. (400g)

Various nuts, seeds, candies, dried fruits or anything you like in any quantity you like

Method:

  • Line a baking tray with parchment paper. Temper your chocolate using your preferred method.
  • Once tempered, spread the chocolate over the parchment paper. Sprinkle your ingredients over the chocolate.

  • Leave to set. To help speed up the setting, you can put it in the fridge for about 15-30min.

  • Don’t leave it in the fridge to avoid the chocolate from sweating (water droplets will form on the chocolate).
  • Either break or cut into pieces. Store at room temperature in an airtight container.

NON CHOCOLATE CANDIES

COLD WATER TEST

If you don’t have a basic candy thermometer, try the cold water test. Keep a cup of cold, not ice water, next to the pot your cooking the candy in. With a spoon, remove some of the hot candy syrup and drop into water. You’ll probably have to do it several times until you reached the stage you’re looking for.

Soft Ball [235°F-240°F / 113°C-115°C] – Sugar Concentration at approximately 85%
At this point the syrup dropped in to cold water can be formed in to a soft and flexible ball. At this point the candy cannot easily support itself and will begin to run if left out. This stage is proper for making items such as Fudge.

Firm Ball [245°F-250°F / 118°C-121°C] – Sugar Concentration at approximately 87%
A little syrup at this temperature dropped in to a cold water bath will create a firm chewy ball that can support its own weight and will remain chewy. This stage is appropriate for making candies such as Caramel, but please note this in not the same thing as Caramelizing.

Hard Ball [250°F-255°F / 121°C-124°C] – Sugar Concentration at approximately 92%
At this stage the syrup solution will form thick ropy threads when quenched in cooled water. If a large enough quantity is cooled it will form a hard ball with little moisture. This temperature is best suited for recipes such as Rock Candy.

Soft Crack [270°F-290°F / 132°C-143°C] – Sugar Concentration at approximately 95%
When the solution reaches this stage the bubbles will become obviously smaller and more concentrated. The candy at this stage has a low moisture point and will create small flexible threads when dropped in cold water. This stage is optimal for recipes such as Taffy.

Hard Crack [300°F-310°F / 149°C-155°C] – Sugar Concentration at approximately 99%
At this point the moisture levels are nearly non-existent, it is also the highest recipe that will be used in a standard candy recipe, after this point you enter the region of caramelizing. A small amount of syrup, when dropped in to cold water, will become brittle threads and easily break when bent or dropped. This final stage is used for creating Toffee and Hard Candy.

HONEYCOMB CANDY

 

Ingredients:

2½ cups (20oz/560gm) granulated white sugar

2/3 cup (160 ml) light corn syrup

6 tablespoons (90 ml) water

1 tablespoon (0.5 oz/ 15g) baking soda

2 teaspoons (10 ml) vanilla extract

Vegetable oil for greasing pan

Method:

  • Liberally grease a 10-inch round spring form cake pan with vegetable oil. Trace the bottom of the pan on a piece of parchment paper. Line the bottom of the pan with the parchment paper circle. Line the sides of the pan with a parchment paper so that the parchment paper creates a collar that sits 1 to 2-inches above the pan. Liberally grease the parchment paper.

 

  • In a deep medium saucepan add sugar, corn syrup, water, and vanilla. Over medium-high heat bring the mixture to a boil (without stirring) and cook until hard crack stage, i.e. until temperature reads 285°F / 140°C on a candy thermometer (if using light corn syrup, it will be light amber, if using dark corn syrup it will be the color of maple syrup).
  • This should take about 10 minutes. If sugar crystals form on the sides of the pan during the cooking process, brush the sides of the pan with a clean pastry brush dipped in water. Remove from heat.

 

  • Working quickly, add the baking soda and quickly blend to incorporate the soda into the sugar mixture, about 5 seconds. The mixture will bubble up when you add the baking soda. Be very careful not to touch the hot mixture.
  • Immediately pour the hot toffee into the prepared pan. Let set completely before touching. Cut into pieces. It makes a huge mess but crumbs can be saved to top ice cream. Leave candy as is and enjoy, or dip pieces in tempered chocolate and let set.

When most of us see photos of or encounter Paté de Fruits, we think of the sugared, overly sweet orange slices and artificially flavored jelly candies we grew up on. Paté de Fruits couldn’t be further from that. They are bite-sized pieces of real fruit puree jellies rolled in sugar. When you bite into one, it tastes like what I called ‘jellied jam’. The texture is jam like, and the taste, so intensely fruity. Technically, you’re making a jam with your purée, but cooking it close to or at the soft ball stage to solidify it.

STRAWBERRY PATE DE FRUITS

Ingredients:

3 cups (16 oz/450 gm) strawberries, fresh or defrosted from frozen

1 tablespoon (15 ml) lemon juice, fresh

2 cups (16 oz/ 450 gm) granulated white sugar

2½ tablespoons (38 ml) liquid pectin

Method:

  • Prepare an 8″x8″ pan by lining it with aluminium foil or parchment paper and spraying it with non-stick cooking spray.
  • Place the strawberries in a blender or food processor and process until very well pureed.
  • Pour them through a mesh strainer into a medium saucepan, discarding any remaining fruit chunks.
  • Stir in the lemon juice and 1/2 cup of the sugar, place the pan over medium-high heat, and insert a candy thermometer.
  • Cook the mixture, stirring constantly, until it is hot, around 140°F/60°C.

 

  • Add the remaining 1.5 cups of sugar and the liquid pectin, and lower the heat to medium.
  • Continue to cook, stirring frequently, until the mixture registers 200°F/93°C. At this point, turn the heat to low.
  • Hold it at 200°F/93°C for 2-3 minutes. After this, return the heat to medium and bring it up to 225°F/107°C.
  • This process will take time, especially with the heat on medium, be diligent in stirring frequently so the bottom doesn’t scorch.
  • Once the fruit paste reaches 225°F/107°C, turn the heat to low and keep it at that temperature for an additional 2-minutes.

  • Remove pan from heat and scrape the strawberry pate de fruit mixture into the prepared pan, smoothing it into an even layer.
  • Allow the pate de fruit mixture to set at room temperature for several hours, until completely cool and firm.
  • Use a sharp knife to cut it into very small squares, and roll the individual pieces in granulated sugar.
  • The strawberry pate de fruits can be served immediately, or refrigerated in an airtight container for up to a week.
  • If refrigerated, the pieces may need to be re-rolled in granulated sugar before serving. Makes about 40-64 squares.

Note:
“Some paté de fruits take quite a long time to cook. If you think about what’s happening, you’re cooking all of the liquid out of the fruit puree and reducing it to a very thick paste. The exact amount of time depends on a lot of factors, like how much water was in your puree to begin with, the capabilities of your stove, and the quality of the pan you use. But you can expect the process to take at least 30 minutes and sometimes up to an hour. I do want to add that this is easier on a gas range, but can absolutely be done on an electric stove – in fact, I use a very old electric stove at home and it works fine.” – Elizabeth LaBau

Storage & Freezing Instructions/Tips

Candies can be kept refrigerated for up to 3 weeks. Take filled chocolates out of the fridge about 15 – 30 minutes before serving so they can come to room temperature. Candies can also be kept out at room temp if stored in an airtight container for approximately 3 weeks. You can freeze candies for 3 months up to a year if packaged tightly and not stored in the door or at the front of the freezer where they could get freezer burnt. Paté de Fruits can be kept refrigerated or kept out at room temperature if stored in an airtight container for approx 3 weeks. Freezing depends on which fruit you use; some fruits will sweat and separate in a freezing environment.

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