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Favorite tools for hand enrobing?


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#1 tammylc

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Posted 27 March 2007 - 09:28 AM

My enrobing technique sucks. At least partly because I don't have any dipping tools that I like. So I'm in the market for something better. What do you like to use when dipping things in chocolate?

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#2 Desiderio

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Posted 27 March 2007 - 09:34 AM

Hehe if I tell you that my favorite dipping tool for chocolates ( not truffles ) is a plastic fork on wich I broke the middle teeth?! :laugh:
As I said before working from a cold basement , a metal tool really doesnt work, the chocolate firm up on that fork very very fast , so i found some plastic forks that were good for the test.I have a set of cheap dipping fork 3 and 2 prongs and a round one for round truffles.I really dont like them , the round one isnt too bad for round centers , but I actually trying to do hand dipping for those centers anyway.
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#3 tammylc

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Posted 27 March 2007 - 09:40 AM

That's very interesting Vanessa - as you know, I have cold working space issues as well (although now that it's spring, my temperature problems are going to start shifting the other direction).

Plastic forks. Hmmm...

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#4 Kerry Beal

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Posted 27 March 2007 - 12:34 PM

I use my hands for truffles, I often dip things like caramels using my fingers. I have been playing with dipping forks again after taking the Wybauw course and my technique is improving.

He says you need to use a 3 pronged fork and bend the fork. Works best if you have a thin layer of chocolate on the bottom so the fork tines don't stick into the ganache or caramel.

#5 gap

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Posted 27 March 2007 - 04:23 PM

I use hands for truffles.

For other centers I use dipping forks. I'd back up exactly what Kerry says. Bend the dipping fork in the middle to a "sort-of" 45 degree angle and make sure you have a foot or thin layer of chocolate on the bottom of the center you are dipping as it will help it release from the fork.

I always let the center slide off the fork - dont wiggle it about to speed it up. To avoid a foot forming, I push the chocolate forward just as its coming off the fork and then as I'm releasing the fork, run it around the side of the chocolate so that it doesn't leave any prong marks on the side.

Edited by gap, 27 March 2007 - 04:29 PM.


#6 Mary F

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Posted 27 March 2007 - 04:37 PM

funny, I learned during the Wybauw class I am horrid at dipping with a fork. I had previously dipped with hands for truffles. So as Alana tried to give me tips, I think the biggest one was practice practice practice.
As Kerry said, thin layer and bent fork. Wybauw also mentioned wiping the fork clean before each dip to keep that harden chocolate from forming.
Hopefully Alana will chime in, as her chocolates were gorgeous!

#7 John DePaula

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Posted 27 March 2007 - 05:32 PM

funny, I learned during the Wybauw class I am horrid at dipping with a fork. I had previously dipped with hands for truffles.  So as Alana tried to give me tips, I think the biggest one was practice practice practice. 
As Kerry said, thin layer and bent fork.  Wybauw also mentioned wiping the fork clean before each dip to keep that harden chocolate from forming.
Hopefully Alana will chime in, as her chocolates were gorgeous!

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You're right, Mary; Alana's chocolates were gorgeous! She was marvelous at piping and decorating.
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When asked “What are the secrets of good cooking? Escoffier replied, “There are three: butter, butter and butter.”

#8 alanamoana

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Posted 27 March 2007 - 07:33 PM

:blush: damn you guys for embarrassing me. trust me, the learning curve was pretty flat for a while and it did take a lot of practice.

one thing that jpw did during the class that i liked was placing a bonbon in the chocolate and using the dipping fork to lift some chocolate from one side of the candy over the top to the other side...thus ensuring that the top layer of chocolate wasn't too thick which can happen if you completely submerge your bonbon and then just lift and try to tap off the extra.

also, don't tap the fork against the bowl to remove excess chocolate but rather tap the dipped bonbon against the surface of the chocolate (while it is on the fork) to use the surface tension of the bowl of chocolate to 'pull' excess chocolate off the bonbon...then a quick drag over the edge of your bowl and a release onto the paper exactly as gap described

obviously this is much easier to see and understand than to describe with words.

i see a pastry demo in the works!

#9 Desiderio

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Posted 27 March 2007 - 10:31 PM

You can find dipping tecniques in the Callebaut web site, there is were I learned how to use the chocolate surface tension to clean up the bottom .
Vanessa

#10 gap

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Posted 27 March 2007 - 10:40 PM

I fully subscribe to the "surface tension" method, mentioned by alanamoana and also "lifting" the chocolate over the top of the center. I've also found wiping the fork clean of chocolate (with a paper towel) inbetween each dip - as Mary F said - is an absolute must.

#11 Kerry Beal

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Posted 28 March 2007 - 04:34 AM

I really appreciated learning the technique of dragging a little chocolate across the top rather than submerging the bonbon, less bubbles, less chocolate to knock off.

In my earlier Wybauw opportunity he showed us to drop it in the bowl face down, touch your fork to the bottom on one side which flips the bonbon over onto the fork. Then proceed as above with surface tension, slight drag on the side of the bowl, slight push forward when you place it on the paper.

I appreciate the hint about running the fork around the side to prevent prong marks. That will be the next addition to my technique.

#12 David J.

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Posted 28 March 2007 - 06:46 AM

I appreciate the hint about running the fork around the side to prevent prong marks.  That will be the next addition to my technique.


I'm having a difficult time picturing what this maneuver looks like. Can someone elaborate?

#13 alanamoana

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Posted 28 March 2007 - 07:55 AM

I think, and correct me if I'm wrong gap, but do you mean rather than pulling the fork straight out from under the bonbon that you gently let it come out and then let the tips of the dipping fork run along the bottom edge of the bonbon so you don't get any little pointy bits of chocolate sticking out?

Does that help David J?

I will absolutely work on a short pictorial.

#14 David J.

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Posted 28 March 2007 - 08:02 AM

I think, and correct me if I'm wrong gap, but do you mean rather than pulling the fork straight out from under the bonbon that you gently let it come out and then let the tips of the dipping fork run along the bottom edge of the bonbon so you don't get any little pointy bits of chocolate sticking out?

Does that help David J?

I will absolutely work on a short pictorial.

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Now I'm picturing letting the bonbon slip off the fork at an angle, then keeping the fork off the surface let it run up the vertical side of the bonbon as you pull it away rather than pull it straight out. I suppose the little divots in the vertical side would heal before it sets.

#15 alanamoana

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Posted 28 March 2007 - 09:09 AM

I think, and correct me if I'm wrong gap, but do you mean rather than pulling the fork straight out from under the bonbon that you gently let it come out and then let the tips of the dipping fork run along the bottom edge of the bonbon so you don't get any little pointy bits of chocolate sticking out?

Does that help David J?

I will absolutely work on a short pictorial.

View Post



Now I'm picturing letting the bonbon slip off the fork at an angle, then keeping the fork off the surface let it run up the vertical side of the bonbon as you pull it away rather than pull it straight out. I suppose the little divots in the vertical side would heal before it sets.

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imagine the bonbon has just slid off the fork (slow motion)...the tines are just at the bottom edge of the bonbon, touching the paper...rather than pulling the fork directly back and away from the bonbon, you simply slide the fork to the left or right along that bottom edge, still touching the paper and the bottom edge of the bonbon so that you avoid leaving little points of chocolate along that bottom edge...

hmmm, time to take pictures, eh?

#16 gap

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Posted 28 March 2007 - 05:20 PM

alanamoana is describing the exact method I use its just a lot easier to picture it if you have seen/done it before. :smile:

As mentioned though, let the center slide off the fork and just before it come to rest on the baking paper, nudge it ever so slightly away from the fork side (this will prevent a foot forming).

Then as you are withdrawing the fork, just as the prongs are coming out from under the chocolate, run the tip of the fork around the bottom edge of the center.

If you just remove the fork by pulling it away from the center, the bottom of your center will have three (assuming a three prong fork) little marks left on the edge by the prongs coming out. You are basically trying to use the tip of the fork to wipe a little chocolate around the bottom edge of the center to cover over these prong marks.

Uhhmm . . . reading this back I'm not sure if I'm helping or hindering :smile:

Edited by gap, 28 March 2007 - 05:21 PM.


#17 Kerry Beal

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Posted 28 March 2007 - 05:28 PM

alanamoana is describing the exact method I use its just a lot easier to picture it if you have seen/done it before. :smile:

As mentioned though, let the center slide off the fork and just before it come to rest on the baking paper, nudge it ever so slightly away from the fork side (this will prevent a foot forming).

Then as you are withdrawing the fork, just as the prongs are coming out from under the chocolate, run the tip of the fork around the bottom edge of the center.

If you just remove the fork by pulling it away from the center, the bottom of your center will have three (assuming a three prong fork) little marks left on the edge by the prongs coming out. You are basically trying to use the tip of the fork to wipe a little chocolate around the bottom edge of the center to cover over these prong marks.

Uhhmm . . . reading this back I'm not sure if I'm helping or hindering  :smile:

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It is making sense to me. While dipping the other day, with chocolate that was a little thick, I noticed that as I pulled the tines away I was getting the 3 little drag marks you mentioned. Just a little drag across those lines would have removed them nicely.

#18 patsikes

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Posted 29 March 2007 - 08:10 AM

The bent 3-tine dipping fork and then 45 degree angle is exactly what I use.

I also use the surface tension of the chocolate to pull a large part of the extra mass off the bottom of the piece.

My one last trick is to suspend a thin wire across your work bowl and slide the bottom of the fork across that instead of your bowl. It provides a cleaner pull since the chocolate drops right into the bowl instead of running down the sides. Besides, with my Chocovision machines, sometimes scraping against the bowl causes the piece to fall off the fork.
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#19 tammylc

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Posted 29 March 2007 - 08:20 AM

Thanks all for the ideas! Very helpful. Can anyone point me to a picture online of the actual dipping fork you like? They mostly seem to be straight - is everyone just bending their own?

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#20 alanamoana

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Posted 29 March 2007 - 08:42 AM

yes tammy, they're all straight and you just bend them where the stem meets the fork or whatever is comfortable for you. it's just easier to dip if the fork is angled.

edited to add: just about any two or three pronged fork is fine. i got a couple of cheap ones from michael's craft store and they work fine.

Edited by alanamoana, 29 March 2007 - 08:43 AM.


#21 gap

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Posted 29 March 2007 - 04:26 PM

My one last trick is to suspend a thin wire across your work bowl and slide the bottom of the fork across that instead of your bowl.  It provides a cleaner pull since  the chocolate drops right into the bowl instead of running down the sides.  Besides, with my Chocovision machines, sometimes scraping against the bowl causes the piece to fall off the fork.

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I like that idea Pat - I might have to hook something up this weekend

#22 alanamoana

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Posted 29 March 2007 - 07:04 PM

My one last trick is to suspend a thin wire across your work bowl and slide the bottom of the fork across that instead of your bowl.  It provides a cleaner pull since  the chocolate drops right into the bowl instead of running down the sides.  Besides, with my Chocovision machines, sometimes scraping against the bowl causes the piece to fall off the fork.

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I like that idea Pat - I might have to hook something up this weekend

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I wish I had a picture, but I have these nifty bowls with a lip, so i run a piece of wire around the bowl under the lip and then attach another wire to this wire ring that stretches across the top of the bowl. the wire doesn't move and it is perfect for dragging excess chocolate off the bottom of your bonbons. VERY cheap and easy to do.

#23 Kerry Beal

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Posted 29 March 2007 - 07:17 PM

I have these little wires with a circular hook on each end that are used to hand IV bags from the pole. They work quite nicely as a scraper, just slide them on the lip of the bowl, the circular hooks hold them in place on the right bowl.

#24 patsikes

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Posted 30 March 2007 - 09:11 AM

My wire is mounted on the top of my Chocovison X3210 tempering machine. My friend made two brackets that attach under the knobs that hold down the baffle. I then just run the wire or sometimes "weed whacker" line across.

My machines are in storage right now so I can't get a photo....sorry.
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#25 tammylc

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Posted 31 March 2007 - 04:46 AM

Thanks for all the tips. I have to enrobe 120+ egg-shaped ganache centers today, so I'll definitely have an opportunity to try them out. Trying to figure out if I can rig up a wire somehow.

A while ago I added some random dipping forks on to an Internet order for something else. They turned out to be the Ateco forks, which have solid stainless steel handles. So all this talk of bending wasn't, I thought, going to work for me. But I mentioned it to my husband as I was getting ready to go off to the kitchen yesterday, and he said "I have a vice grip downstairs." So now I have a bent fork. I'm not sure the bend is in the right place, and I think I'm going to wrap the top of the handle in tape or something, because it's not a very good handhold. But it gives me something else to try, anyway. I'll probably bring along a couple plastic forks too, a la Desiderio.

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#26 Kerry Beal

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Posted 31 March 2007 - 05:05 AM

Thanks for all the tips.  I have to enrobe 120+ egg-shaped ganache centers today, so I'll definitely have an opportunity to try them out.  Trying to figure out if I can rig up a wire somehow.

A while ago I added some random dipping forks on to an Internet order for something else.  They turned out to be the Ateco forks, which have solid stainless steel handles.  So all this talk of bending wasn't, I thought, going to work for me.  But I mentioned it to my husband as I was getting ready to go off to the kitchen yesterday, and he said "I have a vice grip downstairs."  So now I have a bent fork.  I'm not sure the bend is in the right place, and I think I'm going to wrap the top of the handle in tape or something, because it's not a very good handhold.  But it gives me something else to try, anyway.  I'll probably bring along a couple plastic forks too, a la Desiderio.

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My friend Beth slips the handles of those forks inside a little round piece of bamboo. Heavy rubber tubing would work as well.

#27 tammylc

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Posted 01 April 2007 - 05:38 AM

Thanks all! Every time I ask a question on eGullet I get great answers, and this time was no exception. With my new bent fork and all the tips you all posted here, I got all 120 eggs dipped with greater speed and way less feet than ever before! Thanks to some last minute orders, I have another 50 or so to do today, but I'm no longer dreading the idea!

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#28 alanamoana

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Posted 11 April 2007 - 03:06 PM

So I dipped some chocolates at home and took some pictures. Please excuse my lack of skill as a photographer!

Posted Image
Here is my home dipping set up. On the bottom left is my slab of ganache which I already coated on the bottom with chocolate (bottoming like this is called putting a 'foot' on your ganache). Above and in the middle is my tempered chocolate sitting on a heating pad in another bowl so that the heat is evenly distributed around my bowl. Notice that the bowl is tipped forward so that I have an almost level surface of chocolate with the edge of my bowl. To the right is my clean piece of parchment sitting on the back of a half sheet pan. I place my finished chocolates here and I put it on the back of the sheet pan so that I don't have to wrangle with the lip of the pan which sometimes makes it difficult to place the chocolates. I realized only later that I should have been working in the reverse order since I am left handed...but it all worked out for a small home job.

Posted Image
In this picture, you can see that I've dropped my piece of ganache in my tempered chocolate bottom side up. You can see the foot here. So after this point, I put the tines of my dipping fork against the bottom (foot) of the ganache piece and gently flip it over so that the entire thing is coated in chocolate. I tilt it a touch sideways and shake my hand ever so slightly to remove excess chocolate from the top of the bonbon. (edited to add: I don't know what happened to the color in this picture!)

Posted Image
Now, I touch the bonbon to the surface of the chocolate and lift it up a couple of times. Using the surface tension of the chocolate in the bowl helps to remove excess chocolate from the sides and bottom of your bonbon. Do not rap your dipping utensil against the edge of the bowl as the vibration from doing this will surely knock your bonbon off your fork. Notice you can't see the tines beyond the far edge of the bonbon. This is correct. If your bonbon is on the fork and the tines stick out the other side, you'll have a harder time releasing the bonbon onto the paper.

Posted Image
Here's a picture with from left to right: correct, incorrect, incorrect technique. The far right shows a foot at the back of the bonbon. This happens when you slide the chocolate in the same direction that you're using to remove the fork. Rather than do this, you should place the chocolate on the paper and ever so slightly slide it away from the fork as you pull the fork from underneath the bonbon. That way, the bonbon sits on top of any excess chocolate. The middle piece shows an exaggerated drag of the dipping fork on the paper. This will leave little sharp points on the edge of your bonbon. We discussed releasing and then very slightly moving your fork along the bottom edge of the bonbon to eliminate these points and to avoid the dreaded drag. Finally, the piece on the left shows a correctly deposited bonbon with no foot and no points. It is easier to release the bonbon from the fork at a very small angle. The greater the angle, the greater the likelihood that chocolate from the top of the bonbon will spill over the edge and create a foot as it settles down. Any vibration after depositing the chocolates on the paper will also cause this to happen, so don't move the chocolates after they've been dipped until they have a chance to set up a bit.

Posted Image
This (blurry) picture shows my fork making a design on the top of the bonbon. I'll dip a few chocolates and as it is about to set up, I place my fork on top and lift it up slowly moving it away from the chocolate. This will create two clean lines. There are different shaped forks for different designs. You can use texture sheets and leave them on for a shiny polished look. You can even use your finger to create designs while the chocolate is still liquid.

and finally...
Posted Image
The finished chocolates. About 120 pieces from a small batch of ganache.


Hope this was a little bit helpful.

Edited by alanamoana, 11 April 2007 - 03:08 PM.


#29 Kerry Beal

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Posted 11 April 2007 - 03:11 PM

Great demo!! And such lovely straight cuts - are you holding out and have a guitar at home?

#30 alanamoana

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Posted 11 April 2007 - 03:13 PM

I only wish Kerry! I have thin pieces of acrylic that I cut into one inch wide strips. I use them like a ruler/straight edge and cut using them as my guide. A very thin bladed sharp knife and it works a charm. I'm still jonesing for a guitar though. I think I'll have to have a business plan worked out before I can dare spend the money!

Thanks!