Dipping Things in Chocolate--A Novice's Report (and a question)
First, my hat off to Curiousbaker, whose clear and simple instructions not only gave me the courage to try tempering chocolate, but also worked very well! Thank you, Curiousbaker!
See the post
My maiden attempt at tempered chocolate dipping was chocolate-dipped potato chips. I tried two kinds, Pringles Original (I think Nieman-Marcus' chocolate-covered chips use Pringle's) and TJ's Ridged chips. Chocolate: Guittard Semi-sweet chips. (I didn't want to risk my Valhrona bars.) I also tried dipping the Midnight Rum Balls (recipe can be found by searching Chowhound Home Cooking Board) in Schokinag white chocolate.
What I learned:
1. The chocolate coating was thicker than I'd like, especially on the very thin Pringles. I ended up spreading the chocolate on (rather than just dipping) the chips to get a thinner chocolate coating.
Question: Will a better quality chocolate give me a thinner melted chocolate?
2. TJ's Ridged Chips are not very good, for dipping or eating. The chips have a very high proportion of broken, irregularly-shaped, and folded-over chips. The chips also seem hard, rather than crisp, as if they were cooked over insufficient heat. On the other hand, since these chips were thicker and ridged, the heavy chocolate coating did not seem as overwheming as on the Pringles. Another band of ridged chips would probably be better. Next time I will try Callebaut on Lay's.
3. Dipping the Midnight Rum Balls in white chocolate was more difficult than anticipated. The rumballs, which were rather soft, kept falling off the dipping fork, and the melted chocolate would stick to the fork if I dipped the rumballs completely. So I ended up leaving a bald spot around the fork. When I brought these little treats to a dinner party, one friend, upon taking a look at the white-chocolate-coated rumballs, exclaimed, "Oh, eyeballs! But aren't we early for Halloween?"
1. Yes! Also, use a chocolate bar instead of chocolate chips. Chips have an extra additive that allows them to hold their shape when exposed to heat. This is what allows chocolate chips baked in cookies to still look like chocolate chips, and exactly the behaviour you want to prevent when trying to get a smooth shiny homogeneously thin coating of chocolate.
Another idea -- if you want a thin coating and don't mind unsolidified chocolate, try adding scalded cream to the melted chocolate chips. It will thin the mixture, therefore making it easier to apply.
3. Have you tried freezing the Midnight Rum Balls? generally, when I make ganache for truffles, I freeze them before dipping them. This has two advantages: they don't melt in the pool of tempered chocolate (and therefore doesn't taint the chocolate), and the chocolate coating cools down faster.
I believe it is lecithin in the chips that helps them hold their shape.
I find valrhona to be looser when melted than some other chocolates. With sturdy things like the potato chips, give them a good sharp shake to throw the extra chocolate off.
I believe couverture (sp), is a specially conched chocolate that is made for coating. Basically it is just conched longer so it is of higher quality for dipping. It is a fine pure chocolate. More expensive too.
That's funny about the eyeballs! You can buy wire loops (kind of like a wire lasso) that hold the ball when you dip it in chocolate so it coats the whole thing. The wires are thin enough that the chocolate rolls off.
Thank you, yvonnexlai, babette feasts, Becca Porter, and chowser! Trust the chowhounds to have information and suggestions not found in most books.
It seems that next try, I should: a) use a good quality bar chocolate or couverture; b) freeze any semi-soft centers before dipping; c) find a couple of more sophisticated dipping tools.
I'll report back after my next attempt. Thanks, again!