Saturday, August 27, 2011

Truffles. No pig needed.

Milk chocolate, framboise, and fresh mint ganache enrobed in tempered dark chocolate 

For this month's daring baker challenge, we were asked to temper chocolate and make two kinds of candy. I've never done either, and there were so many options, so I was feeling a little overwhelmed.  As you'll remember, my parents came to town for a weekend, and I enlisted their help. My father was hesitant, but he definitely ate his share of melted chocolate along the way.

Can you tell what temperature we're at? No? Me neither.

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 offered an amazing prize for the winner of the most creative and delicious candy!

Tempering chocolate involves heating it to a certain temperature, cooling it, and heating it again. There's definitely some science involved about changing the structure of something...crystals or proteins or what have you...that I don't understand.  What I do understand is that it prevents blooming (which is the prettiest name for the ugly white streaks on your chocolate bar from being left in the car to melt and reharden) and it makes the chocolate shiny and snappy. Most everyone likes shine, but all people love snap.

If you read the directions provided by the daring bakers this month, you'll see that you can also temper chocolate on a marble slab. I, for one, don't have a marble slab. And frankly, the melt, stir, and stir some more method was very simple and straightforward. Except, as you'll see above, for when I got chocolate on my candy thermometer and couldn't see the temperature.

They may not be pretty, but they are scrumptious.

Also, apparently I have the wrong thermometer yet again. We were waiting and waiting and stirring and stirring trying to get the temperature to lower under 25 degrees Celsius, until my father said:

Wait. Maybe it doesn't register any lower.

He tested it under cold water, and he was right. Now I own a meat thermometer and a candy thermometer already. Is there a chocolate thermometer I'm supposed to own too?  Too many things.

Milk chocolate ganache enrobed in crushed almonds

Lessons learned along the way:

1. Refrigerate your ganache. The colder it is, the easier it is to work with.  Don't be afraid to put the bowl of ganache in an ice bath while you work with it. 

2. Don't temper your chocolate until you're ready to use it. It gets cold and then it gets hard to work with and you're back and forth over the double boiler trying to keep it that great slippery consistency. This is not mandatory, but it makes things easier.

3. These are really good. Plan to give some away so you don't eat them all yourself.

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