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Anyone else having problems with dipped chocolates?


excv_
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I have been playing with chocolate a lot these days; while I have no particular issues with tempering itself or any other techniques, I never seem to be able to get dipped candies right. The melted chocolate seems to harden too quickly to get anything done properly, and is really difficult to maintain at a safe working temperature without a fancy tempering machine or some sort of warmer. This problem is even worse when the filling I'm using is cold(things like relatively soft caramel/nougat/ganache .etc that are easier to handle when chilled)- the job quickly gets rather frustrating and I often find myself resorting to candy coating then feeling terrible about my culinary skills afterwards. Does anyone else making chocolates at home experience this, or is there something I'm doing wrong?

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Sounds like your chocolate is over tempered and/or your centers too cold. Whatever you are dipping needs to be at room temp. If your centers are too soft, they are not cooked to the proper temp to begin with. By having your centers cold, once they are coated and warm up, they can crack the chocolate or at the least make the chocolate dull. Tempering machines are not necessary, but correct technique is. Chocolate is one of the most challenging ingredient you will ever work with. So many variables! You should be able to maintain tempered chocolate for a long time by adding chocolate to warm the mass. A hair dryer also works well. Read up on chocolate handling and practice, practice, practice. The best part, is everyone will enjoy your mistakes:) Good luck.

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Ruth Kendrick

Chocolot
Artisan Chocolates and Toffees
www.chocolot.com

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Chocolot-

Thanks for such a kind answer! I didn't know about the centers having to be at room temp- luckily I've never had problems with that, but it's always good to know. I should try the hair dryer trick too; I've heard of people using one to rewarm chocolate, but have never actually done it in fear of overheating. Perhaps on the lowest setting?

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Chocolot-

Thanks for such a kind answer! I didn't know about the centers having to be at room temp- luckily I've never had problems with that, but it's always good to know. I should try the hair dryer trick too; I've heard of people using one to rewarm chocolate, but have never actually done it in fear of overheating. Perhaps on the lowest setting?

 

High setting just blows chocolate around more. Low takes longer, but is more gentle. It will overheat on the surface, but you just stir it in and it all works out. Do you keep track of the choc temp?

Ruth Kendrick

Chocolot
Artisan Chocolates and Toffees
www.chocolot.com

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High setting just blows chocolate around more. Low takes longer, but is more gentle. It will overheat on the surface, but you just stir it in and it all works out. Do you keep track of the choc temp?

Oh, I get it- I will try that the next time, it sounds like a lot less work than using the double boiler constantly. And yes, I do take the chocolate's temperature once every few minutes or whenever I suspect it's falling out of temper.
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I use a heating pad from the drug store to keep the chocolate warm, just put a towel on top of the pad, and the bowl on top of that. I also keep my probe thermometer in the bowl. This way I do not have water near the chocolate after it is tempered.

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I use a heat gun + stirring (not a hair dryer) to keep my chocolate at temp.  I also insulate my bowl with a kitchen towel to maintain the temp longer, and while I haven't used the heating pad yet, it seems like a good idea.

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I made some mint patties tonight following some of the advices here and I'm happy to say- it's a success! I kept the centres at room temperature, about the same temp as the tempered chocolate- seemed to help tremendously. I kept a disposable heating pad ready, but didn't really need to rewarm the chocolate a lot. I also thinned the chocolate(one I used today was particularly viscous) a bit with some cocoa butter, which made dipping easier as well. Pictures at the confections! thread; go check it out. Thank you all again!

Edited by excv_ (log)
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In the US, federal law has mandated (for about the past 20 years) that heating pads automatically shut off after 20 minutes, so, keep an eye on it and re-set as needed. Also, on mine the low setting is plenty hot for chocolate. Good luck!

 

I've not tried this personally, but there are products sold to the home gardening/agricultural sector referred to as 'seedling heat mats'. These do not automatically shut off, and are designed to heat growing media to temperatures ideal for seed-sprouting. While that is a bit less than the ideal temperature for tempered chocolate, the small amount of heat they produce may be ideal for this application. For example:

 

http://www.amazon.com/Hydrofarm-MT10006-19-1-2-Inch-Seedling/dp/B0001WV010

Edited by p_lo (log)
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  • 3 weeks later...

I have a somewhat specialized question on dipping chocolates.  In dipping truffles, I first pre-coat the ganache by rolling it in chocolate in a gloved hand.  When I place it on parchment, it develops a flat side where it sits.  When I do the second dipping, I have learned that I have to track where that flat side is so that I place the completed truffle on the bottom it developed earlier or it ends up with another bottom plus one side that is now "tell-tale" flat.  It is quite difficult to watch where the initial flat side is as the truffle tumbles in the chocolate.  This is a relatively minor matter, but it would be nice to have truffles that have only one bottom--the one that develops from their final resting place.  The last time I tried rolling the truffle on the parchment after the first coating so that the bottom would not be so obvious.  This helped in a few cases, but most often it merely made a mess of the first coating.  With only one set of hands, it is quite difficult to keep rolling the truffles on the parchment and, at the same time, continue coating more in my hand.

 

Is there a technique I have not heard about for avoiding the "two flat sides" issue with truffles?  Any help will be appreciated.

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Have you tried putting a small amount of chocolate on your gloved hand and patting it onto the other gloved hand? Then just roll the truffle with the small amount of chocolate with your hands and put down and do another. This puts an extremely small amount of chocolate for the first coating. I have not had a problem with a flat spot doing it this way.

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Ruth Kendrick

Chocolot
Artisan Chocolates and Toffees
www.chocolot.com

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Have you tried putting a small amount of chocolate on your gloved hand and patting it onto the other gloved hand? Then just roll the truffle with the small amount of chocolate with your hands and put down and do another. This puts an extremely small amount of chocolate for the first coating. I have not had a problem with a flat spot doing it this way.

Thanks for that suggestion.  In your first coating, is the filling completely covered in chocolate or does it show through in spots?

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