Oh joy! Relatively mess-free chocolate tempering in the microwave
I just finished making chocolate dipped peanut butter cookies for tomorrow's Super Bowl Snackstravaganza. It went so well I am truly stoked!
I used the chocolate callets from Trader Joe's and my new 2-cup silicone measuring beaker to melt about 10 ounces of chocolate in the microwave. I did them at 1 minute intervals on 60% power until I got them to 115˚ measured (and stirred BTW) with a digital thermopen.
When I got it to 115˚ I stirred additional intervals until I got it to drop to 105˚. Between stirs, I folded the thermopan over the top of the beaker with the probe in the chocolate and the handle on the outside. Still no chocolatey knuckles or chocolate dribbles all over the counter!
At 105˚ I started adding additional disks 2 and 3 at a time, stirring them in with the extended thermopen, until I got it down to 88˚, using the major part of the remaining 6 ounces I had reserved as seed chocolate. At 88˚ I located the remaining seed disks with the point of the probe and slid them up the side of the beaker. They -- rather miraculously -- stuck high on the side out of the way. I folded the thermopen up again as before half in and half out of the beaker.
Now the cooled cookies go in until there wasn't enough chocolate left to dip. Still no mess and minimal chocolately knuckes (YUM!).
The probe of the thermopen gets a run through hot water and a wipe with a towel. The beaker goes in the fridge along with the cookies to set up. When the chocolate was hard again it was a simple matter to squeeze the soft sides of the beaker to loosen the chocolate and pour it back in the bag with the remaining few callets.
A quick wash up and this is THE least messy, least wasteful adventure I've ever had with chocolate.
Hardly a glamour shot but an indication how not messy the whole process was: http://www.flickr.com/photos/75667634...
re: Hank Hanover
Are you using the heating pad to go thru the temperature sequences? Don't really see that it would have enough heat control for that. Or just to maintain a holding temperature while you dip?
I'd love some more description of your process.
But, seriously, the combo of the small footprint, tall profile and flexible sides made both dipping and clean up a cinch in the silicone measuring beaker. Plus, of course, it's non-metalic property made it possible to go in the microwave and complete the process from scratch to clean up with almost no waste at all.
If you start with tempered chocolate but you just want to dip or mold it, you don't need to get to the various temperatures. Just melt it to the point you can stir it and get a homogeneous liquid and you can start dipping. You aren't really tempering, you are just preserving the existing temper. In fact, I would just use the low setting on the pad to make sure I didn't get up to 116 -120. You get up there and you will have to temper it. I don't think I would let it get above 105 degrees or so.
Your method works. I saw Ina garten do it for white chocolate bark.
I use a tempering machine because I have one. It was expensive to the point of being wasteful for the home cook but I asked Santa for it and my wife found a good deal.
You totally wouldn't want to dip leaves or you wouldn't be able to break them free to use them.
And I'm highly in favor of whatever works for you. But, for me, it's worth tempering because a couple days later the chocolate is still attractively unbloomed and you can touch it without ending up with messy hands and without having to keep them refrigerated beyond the couple minutes it takes them to set up.
Here are my cookies Super Bowl ready: http://www.flickr.com/photos/75667634...
re: Hank Hanover
I got an automatic tempering machine years ago too. At the time there was very little in the way of instruction and when I pursued it I got pretty roundly dismissed. The programmed machine was my only way of being able to work with chocolate and be able to give items with assurance that they wouldn't have bloomed by the time they were unwrapped. How embarrassing!
Thank god for the internet that makes this information available in various forms. I have learned to temper and had some decent success on a number of attempts.
The machine works. But it's rarely worth the trouble of pulling out now that I know I can do it when I want to.
BTW, the advice I've read is to do the whole temp sequence because errant untempered crystals can be present even in chocolate that gives every appearance of being fully tempered. Since all it takes is time and attention to return it to assured temper, I do it. Particularly now that I've mastered the mess and waste.
Just in case anyone hasn't attempted tempering yet, here are various resources I've found extremely instructive and helpful:
Alas, Lake Champlain Chocolates and Scharffen Berger once also had excellent exhaustive discussions of the process on their sites but they've taken those pages down and my links have disappeared.