Special Feature: Products Sally Recommends
Working with Fine Chocolates
This is our second lesson on making fine chocolates. We will concentrate on enrobing centers in chocolate. Before we begin, have at least one pound of chocolate melted over hot water in a double boiler ready for dipping. You can use either confectioners coating or real chocolate, but please remember that real chocolate must be tempered. You also need the centers of the chocolates to be prepared and either cut into shapes or rolled into balls. It is best to work with centers that are room temperature but if your truffles are very soft you can have them at a cooler temperature. The problem with having your centers colder than the chocolate is that the center will expand inside the chocolate coating as it comes to room temperature which could cause your chocolate coating to crack.
You can use truffles as centers or make cream centers from fondant (see recipe to follow). Both the truffle and fondant centers can be flavored to your taste. Have a fork ready for dipping - look for one with less tines spaced further apart.
When chocolate is at the perfect temperature (82-88°F or 28-31°C) for dipping you are ready to start. Have sheets of wax or parchment paper ready, so you will have a place to put your chocolates to cool and firm. Steps:
Drop a cream or truffle center into the chocolate instead of putting it there with a fork - this keeps your fork cleaner and the center usually falls just below the surface of the chocolate mass.
If your center isn't totally below the surface of the chocolate mass then use a clean fork to pull chocolate from one side up and across the center - basically coating it with chocolate.
Then carefully lift the center out of the chocolate with the fork, tapping the handle on the side of the pan to dislodge any excess chocolate. The thinner the coating of chocolate on the center, the more professional your final product will look.
Immediately place the chocolate on the wax or parchment paper to cool, removing the fork out from under the center in a quick pulling motion.
You can decorate the top of the chocolate by lightly pressing the tines of the fork onto the chocolate and withdrawing quickly. You should have small ridges across the top. Another decorating hint is to dip the tines of the fork into the pan of chocolate and then fling the fork back and forth over the top of the chocolates. This should leave small ribbons of chocolate. Let your chocolates cool and harden, then store in an airtight container in a cool place or the refrigerator for up to two weeks. Too much moisture will effect the sheen of the chocolates, so a cool dry place is preferable to the refrigerator.
The following recipe makes the basic fondant that can then be colored (use one drop of food coloring at a time, kneading well until the desired color is reached) and flavoured with liquor or oils to taste (again make sure and add a small amount of flavoring at a time, kneading well until the desired taste is achieved).
2 1/2 cups 500 g granulated sugar
1 cup 250 ml water
1/2 teaspoon 2 ml lemon juice
Bring the sugar, water and lemon juice to a boil in a sauce pan and boil rapidly until the syrup reaches the Soft Ball stage (234Æ’F or 112Æ’C). Carefully pour the syrup onto a clean, cool surface. A marble slab works perfectly for this purpose. Allow the syrup to cool for one minute.
Begin working the cooled syrup with a metal or wooden spatula in a back-and-forth or figure-eight motion. Scrape the edges toward the center from time to time. As the syrup cools, it will become paste like and harder to work. It is ready when the entire mass has become an opaque paste. At this point you can color or flavor all or part of the mass. Fondant can be stored indefinitely in an air tight container in the refrigerator.
To make centers for chocolate enrobing, either spread the mass into a smooth layer about 1/2 inch thick and cut in squares, rectangles or triangles; or roll small tablespoon size bits into balls.
Fondant can be finicky to make from scratch. There are dry fondant mixes (you just add water) that are available at candy supply companies.