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Chocolate-dipping a sandwich cookie


Abra
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I made alfajores a couple of days ago - an almond-based dough, with dulce de leche sandwiched betwen two cookies. Then my Argentine guest informed me that they were supposed to be dipped in chocolate, something I had no clear idea how to do.

I ended up making a ganache, setting the sandwiches on a rack with a silpat underneath, and pouring the ganache over the cookies. Ok, now one side looked perfect, but how to get the bottom glazed too? I stuck them inthe fridge until the ganache set up, flipped them over onto parchment, and repeated the process. Then they were covered in chocolate, but it definitely wasn't a smooth coating all over, and they looked sub-artisanal, to say the least. What's the trick for doing this so the cookies look seamlessly dipped?

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Ok......here's how I'd do it......

first, though, I wouldn't use ganache, because it doesn't set up hard enough for a person

to eat it with the fingers without being quite messy.

I'd make the little sandwich cookies, then put them in the freezer.

While they are freezing, I would melt my chocolate (couverture or tempered chocolate, or you could just melt chopped chocolate and not worry about tempering it, but it doesn't look as nice. Don't use chocolate chips....they don't melt well and end up being too thick for dipping).

Once frozen, I would take a candy dipping fork (do you have one? It's a little wiry two tined fork that I couldn't do without) and then I would stick the fork tines in the cream filling, and dip the cookie in my melted chocolate, let it drain off, gently rub the bottom part of the cookie along the edge of the bowl to wipe off the excess, and set it on parchment to set. You may get some chocolate "feet" along the bottom edge of the cookie as it sets, but it's easy to trim off with a paring knife. You can also set your dipped cookies on a fine mesh wire rack, so the chocolate can drip off on a pan beneath it, but I have found it's hard to get the cookies off the rack once the chocolate has set, so I stick with parchment.

Hope this helps you!

Cheers!

:wub: Annie

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I would use the basic method that Annie outlined above. I would just add that to make sure the bottoms are coated properly and sealed, you should pre-coat them in tempered chocolate (if the chocolate isn't tempered, you will get gray streeks when it sets and will melt easily in people's hands when they pick up the cookies). You can use a small offset spatula or even a very clean and dry pastry brush to thinly coat the cookie bottoms. Let the chocolate set, then set them on the dipping fork (you might even be able to use a regualar dinner fork if you don't want to buy one or can't find them) chocolate side down and dip completely in the tempered chocolate.

To get a thin coating and reduce the chance of big "feet", when you dip each cookie and it's still on the fork, "tap" it on the surface of the chocolate to pull off some of the excess. This is sometimes called "pumping". Then you can scrape off the chocolate on the bottom by running the fork across the edge of the bowl.

Oh, and I would dip the cookies at room temperature. Otherwise they will cool the chocolate too quickly so you'll get a very heavy coating and your bowl of chocolate will become too thick to dip with after just a few cookies.

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Variation on a theme: Temper your chocolate (or use coating if you prefer). Drop a cookie in, use a fork (dipping fork or just a regular dinner fork) to push it into the chocolate until only the top is visible, then get the fork under the cookie and flip it in the chocolate. Get the fork under it again, lift, shake, scrape the bottom on the side of the bowl, and set onto parchment.

This avoids the extra step of coating the bottom before dipping, and I find it makes for less "feet". It takes my students a couple practice tries to get the release right, but it's fairly easy to wiggle the cookie off of the fork without dragging it at all, so there's little need to trim anything later.

The chocolate will build up on the tines of the fork, so once in a while, you'll want to wipe/scrape it off.

B. Keith Ryder

BCakes by BKeith

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Neil

yeah, you're right about the frozen cookies cooling off the tempered chocolate too quickly....forgot about that. The only reason I mentioned freezing them is because:

A) I've never seen or baked an Alfajore, and don't know how crumbly they could be,

and I'm not sure how firm her filling is at room temp. I had thought if the dipping fork

was inserted in the cream filling part (frozen), it would be much easier to dip and release

onto the parchment.

B) I would think at room temp, there is a greater chance for the sandwich cookie to come

apart in the melted chocolate, and that's no fun at all.

Keith

Not really sure how your method, as compared to Neil's, reduces "feet".

The only way I know to really reduce "feet", is to dip the cookie, lift it out,

tap it a few times (and hope it doesn't fall off the fork), let it drip until it stops

dripping, then scrape the bottom of it against the side of the bowl, and release

onto parchment. Problem is, when you're dipping 100+ cookies, that time you're

sitting there waiting for the dripping to stop, seems MUCH too long. Finally, at the 20th

cookie you sort of lose a little patience, and think, "fuck it....I'll just trim the feet....". :raz:

Abra

Have we scared you off about the chocolate dipping thing yet? :wacko:

Well, there IS another alternative......which <ahem>, I use a lot. I have a lot less

patience than I used to....why is that? Anyway, more often than not, I'll put my

melted (tempered? sometimes yes, sometimes no....sometimes I'm in too much of

a hurry) into a parchment paper cone, snip the tip off, and pipe stripes across the top

of the cookie one way, then more stripes the other way, so it ends up looking like a

tight crosshatch pattern. Kind of a cool look; you have your obligatory chocolate on

there; and it's a heck of a lot faster. Just another thought for ya.

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Wowsers, this is a litle harder than I'd imagined. Ok, so no ganache - got that.

The texture of the alfajore cookie is essentially shortbread, not too fragile, but the dulce de leche filling is a soft, spreadable caramel, so I don't think a fork could be stuck into it successfully.

I've never seen a dipping fork, but now, of courser, I'm dying to get one and try them again, using all of your tricks. First I have to recover from the last 10,000 caolries of alfajores, and then I'll give it another go. Or maybe I'll practice on some sort of store-bought cookie, just to dip and toss, so I don't feel compelled to eat them and can make as many as I need to in order to get the technique down. Thanks, all!

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Keith

Not really sure how your method, as compared to Neil's, reduces "feet".

Sorry, I wasn't clear. I was comparing to Neil's method in regards to not having to coat the bottoms as a separate step. For reducing feet, I was actually thinking about your spearing the centers with the fork. That just seemed to me like it would necessitate dragging the cookie a bit on the parchment, making feet.

Problem is, when you're dipping 100+ cookies, that time you're

sitting there waiting for the dripping to stop, seems MUCH too long. Finally, at the 20th cookie you sort of lose a little patience, and think, "fuck it....I'll just trim the feet....".  :raz:

Completely understood. And in fact, when I have to work in larger quantities, I toss delicacy (and my dipping fork) to the wind, put on a glove, and go for the old-fashioned hand-dipper's method -- think "Lucy gets a job in the chocolate factory", only BEFORE the chocolate fight. With some practice, you can actually do that without getting chocolate on every surface in the kitchen. And working with your hands like that is a lot faster than waiting for chocolate to drip back into the bowl.

B. Keith Ryder

BCakes by BKeith

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So basicly, if you want to enrobe something completely in chocolate your getting into a more intricate process then it appears at first glance. The chocolate doesn't know or care if it's enrobing the finest truffles or a store bought cookie. You have to understand how to use chocolate regardless of what your covering.

You could read all our posts on tempering chocolate and making truffles and they all would apply to what you want to do Abra.

Theres alot of different methods and ideas about how you can do this-everything from tempering chocolate to using a microwave to melt coating chocolate.

There are shortcuts (such as using coating chocolate), which you may or maynot like the results and the long method which involves a fair amount of tech. knowledge (to temper couveture).

It's up to you to deside how much effort you want to put forth to learn how to dip your cookies-are you a perfectionist or are you just looking to solve the problem quickly?

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Well, I'm neither a perfectionist nor a once-over-lightly. I would like to know how to do it well, since I like my food to look professional, but I don't need to do it with a pastry chef's level of excellence.

I've never worked with couverture, but I think they sell it through King Arthur. I've never seen it in the grocery store. And I've also never tempered chocolate, so I think reading all those posts will be a big help to me. Actually, I live not too far from chefpeon and I'm hoping to do a little stage with her and improve my skills.

I did think about the gloved hand-dipping method, but wasn't clear about how to get the cookie to dry without fingerprints. Stuff like this gives me new respect for commercial products - like M&Ms. How the heck do they have such a perfect surface when you know they had to dry somewhere, somehow?

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Wow, chocolate-dipped alfajores! That's gilding the lily, and I'm sure delicious.

I have several Argentinian recipes for alfajores and most of them call for spreading the sides with more dulce de leche and rolling the sides in coconut. One suggests dipping in chocolate as an option. What I am trying to say is that there are different variations, even within Argentina, as to how to finish the cookie. The alfajores will be plenty authentic even without the chocolate coating.

For me, the cookies with dulce de leche are good (and rich) enough on their own.

Alfajores are also made in other South American countries, like Colombia and Venezuela.

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I have a tool that looks like a very long tweezers (about a foot long). I use it to make chocolate covered oreos. I melt the chocolate (Scharffenberger semi-sweet) in the microwave and add a little cream if its too thick. I use the tweezer to pick up the cookie, dip it in to the chocolate and then place it onto parchment. If the chocolate is the right consistency, I get very little spreading onto the paper.

The cookies take about 10 minutes to set, aren't overly messy to eat and last for months in an airtight container. I make hundreds of these at the holidays as gifts. I haven't tried using tempered chocolate but I will soon as I'd like a glossier finish, if possible.

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