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Chocolate-Dipped Cookies

I am planning on making shortbread cookies to give out around Xmas. I would like to dip half of them in chocolate, but have heard that the chocolate will not harden properly without adding some baker's wax or paraffin. Are these my only options? I have also heard about adding some shortening - would this work?

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  1. i amke a gingeres shortbread and I simply melt good quality 70% dark bittersweet chocolate and drizzle it over the cookies. It always hardens because it has not been cut with anything. If you were to add cream or some other liquid it would soften the chocolate and it would not set firmly.

    1. I make dipped cookies and I just melt good chocolate and dip or drizzle it.

      1. my most popular cookies are Mocha Java swirls, a coffee walnut shortbread, piped out,baked and dipped halfway in choc. i have alw used 1/2 sweet butter, 1/2 bittersweet choc.and they freeze, defrost and store just fine. no melty yucky unless they were in the hot sun.

        i would NOT use parafin; no need. i also think pure choc is both wasted $ and too hard. the 'ganache' i use is strong choco flavor, but with some give to it instead of hard brittle chocolate covering a cookie.

        1 Reply
        1. re: opinionatedchef

          Yum! Can you share your recipe for the Coffee Walnut Shortbread???

        2. Adding wax is an old candy makers trick, and yes it does help. However, it is just candle wax no matter what the store calls it, and it has never been proved to be safe. In fact, it is illegal to add candle wax (paraffin, or whatever) to food for human consumption, although I doubt it will cause any real problems, since confectioners use to do it all time.

          Just melt the chocolate and go ahead and dip, just make sure you do not heat too much or you will burn the chocolate. This will cause the chocolate to melt slightly in your hands as you hold it while eating it. Note that if you try to save it serve the next day, the chocolate will probably bloom; looks nasty, but actually the taste is not affected. Better to serve it as soon as the chocolate dries out.

          If this is a problem, use 'confectionery coating' or 'summer coating'. In fact, this is really fake chocolate, but with the cookie and all, I doubt anyone will notice. With these fake coatings, the 'chocolate' will remain hard and dry even if you hold it in your warm hand, and it will not bloom.

          1. I usually just melt chocolate chips (Ghirardelli, semi or the darker ones) and I haven't had any problems.

            1. For dipping cookies or whatever, I usually add a teaspoon or two of (gasp) solid vegetable shortening to a cup of chopped chocolate (I don't know - 6 oz. or so). It helps the chocolate stay glossy when it sets, allows it to set firmly and also seems to prevent the chocolate from blooming. I know, I know - veg shortening is horrible, but it's such a teensy bit and we've all been eating it for years anyway. I choose my poison carefully.

              1. Please, please, please don't put wax in your chocolate! You can definitely taste the wax. Do you like the taste of white plumbers' candles? Neither do the people who will eat your cookies.

                If you're really worried about the chocolate hardening, put the cookies in the fridge (or, if you live in Minnesota, on the porch) for a half hour.

                Actually, the "bloom factor" is more of an issue for things you're giving as gifts. I wouldn't object to a teensy bit of shortening, if it kept away the bloom. Or you could search for "temper" on this board to find out about tempering melted chocolate - which keeps away that whitish bloom and also helps it harden nicely.


                3 Replies
                1. re: AnneInMpls

                  Right - a weensy bit of shortening is basically a substitution for proper tempering. To be honest, I just don't have the patience to temper chocolate for dipping cookies, so that's why I use shortening. But DO NOT use butter - it contains water and can cause your chocolate to seize.

                  1. re: Nyleve

                    So... could you do ghee (isn't that just cooking the water out of the butter)? I've always used parafin for my chocolate dipping, but after reading this thread, I'm more grossed out by it than I already was.

                    1. re: abowes

                      I have never tried that. I'd be very curious to see if it would work. Definitely a nicer option than shortening. Anyone else know?

                2. i think i've used a little bit of vegetable oil, if you don't want to use shortening. i used to make truffles and I'd just dip them in straight chocolate and put them out or in the fridge to cool. I traveled with them and never had any problems. When I've made dipped cookies I also used dairy-free grain-sweetened chocolate chips, so their composition changes the effects a little.

                  1. Not sure if this will work for you but I always do this when I do one sided chocolated dipped biscotti. I stick them in my freezer on a cookie sheet. Hardens the chocolate right away.

                    1. You have to temper the chocolate. When in temper, chocolate will harden with a nice, shiny surface and have a solid texture. Use a high-quality, bitersweet chocolate. Something around 70% would be perfect.

                      If you simply melt any chocolate and dip it, you will end up with a cloudy and not fully hardend coating unless you keep them refrigerated.

                      Please people, do not add wax to chocolate. That is a cheap candy making trick. Just take the extra few minutes to temper it.

                      5 Replies
                      1. re: sgwood415

                        Yes I'm sure you are right but the words "tempering chocolate" strikes fear in my heart. I'm a decent baker but this has always seems far beyond my talents.

                        Any simple instructions?

                        1. re: Mila

                          I just saw a show where the cook (Ellie Krieger? Ina Garten? Stop Sign Head-aka-Skinny Italian Lady?) chopped a bunch of chocolate, melted half of it, then stirred in the rest to cool it. She claimed that it was a shortcut tempering method. Was she right?


                          1. re: AnneInMpls

                            Tempering is never simple, as factors beyond your control (weather and humidity) plays into it.
                            I think the method you mentioned could work. It goes through the steps that tempering does, which is to heat the chocolate to a certain temperature (112-115) which it's melted and then lower the temperature (87-90). One common way to lower the temperature is to add unmelted chocolate to the melted chocolate. Once you reach the lower temp, you're supposed to maintain it. One way to do so is to used a heating pad.
                            If you find that the chocolate you're using is too thick in consistency for dipping, you can use cocoa butter or vegetable oil to thin it out.

                            1. re: AnneInMpls

                              I found a post from last year that explained it well:

                              on Mar 02, 2005 curiousbaker replied to chick

                              That's pretty much it. You need a chunk of tempered chocolate to "seed" the melted chocolate. (There are other methods, but they are needlessly complicated.

                              Chop your chocolate, reserving about 1/4 in a large block. Melt your chocolate gently. I like to bring water to a boil, turn the heat off, then put the chopped chocolate in a metal bowl over the warm water, with a sheet of Saran Wrap over the top. Once it's all melted, remove from the double-boiler. Stir in the large block. Stir some more. Just keep stirring. Feel the bottom of the bowl. If it's still warm to the touch, keep stirring. When the chocolate has cooled, you test it. Otherwise, there really isn't a way to know if the chocolate is tempered yet, so you could conceivable dip a bunch of chocolates in untempered chocolate.

                              The test is easy. Take a metal spoon. Dip the tip of the spoon in the chocolate, just about a centimeter in. Put it to the side. 1-2 minutes later, touch the chocolate. If it's in temper, the chocolate will have already set up. It might be a bit tacky, but it will definitely have firmed. If the chocolate is not in temper, it will remain melted. That's it. If your chocolate isn't in temper, keep stirring. If it's very cool and has started to thicken and still isn't testing for temper, take out your big chunk of chocolate, reheat the rest, and start again.

                              This was the method we used at the CIA, before we were allowed to use the tempering machine. We had to do the marble method once, just to know how, but we didn't use the method regularly. I've never had a problem.

                              Use way more chocolate than you need. Once it's in temper, the chocolate will want to set up, and if you don't have enough, you'll have to keep rewarming it. Just a little rewarming - to the count of three while stirring over heat - won't usually take it out of temper, but always retest.

                              The block of chocolate you use must itself be in temper. Not usually a problem if you've bought it fresh, but could be if you've kept it around the house and it's gotten overheated. Doesn't matter if the chopped chocolate that you melt is in temper, of course.

                              1. re: Mila

                                Honestly folks, I am a fairly persnickety cook but to dip or drizzle some cookies with chocolate, this is way too much fiddling around. If I thought I HAD to temper chocolate if I wanted to use it this way, I'd never get around to making the cookies at all.

                                Different story if I were actually making dipped chocolates. When the chocolate is the STAR of the occasion, yes, temper. Of course. But for a drizzle? I say add a teaspoonful of shortening and be done with it. Will it be even slightly detectable to the average person? I don't think so.