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Dec 18, 2012 09:33 AM

Arrgh! Frustrating Blooming Chocolate on Candied Orange Peel. (PICTURE)

Hope everyone's holiday preparations are going well. I have a candy problem I've not been able to solve. Two years in a row I've made candied orange peel for the cookie box -- a somewhat laborious process involving orange peel removal, scraping, slicing, thrice blanching, a 45 minute simmer in sugar syrup, and a roll in granulated sugar. I *think* it's worth the hassle. The result is a tantalizing combination of bitter, tangy, sweet, crunchy, and chewy, with a bright burst of orange essence. Add the mellowness of semi-sweet Valrhona chocolate and these have the power to make many adults weak at the knees. (Children seem to find this confection utterly gag-worthy and will generally spit them back out.)

So I'm happy with the flavor of the chocolate-dipped orange slices, but they look too ugly to give as gifts. The devilishly temperamental chocolate has bloomed again this year, despite my careful adherence to tempering instructions from a variety of sources (Food Network, Joy of Cooking, etc.). The instructions said to warm chocolate over a double boiler, pull it as soon as it starts to melt, stir in some additional chocolate, and reheat over a double boiler until the temperature reaches 90 degrees. I think mine may have quickly shot up to 95 degrees this year, but last year it didn't.

As you can see from the picture, there are unsightly specs and a dull finish on the surface of the chocolate. Does anyone know some secrets about chocolate that I may have missed? Do you think the orange oil or sugar is altering the chocolate in the bowl after I dip a few pieces?

Thanks for any advice you can offer. Happy holidays.

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  1. I don't know about the cause (I've used a different microwaved version of tempering that has worked well enough in the past) but why don't you get some white chocolate and use it to make some distracting drizzles over the dark just so you can go ahead and gift?

    1 Reply
    1. re: chinaplate

      I like the way you think, chinaplate! A fix that makes the taste even better... creative problem solving at its finest. White chocolate might make these too good to give away. : )

    2. I'm betting that once they have a taste, your friends will happily overlook a slight imperfection in the chocolate. Or may not even notice to begin with. If they reject them, I can send you a shipping address for someone who thinks they sound fabulous ;-)

      1 Reply
      1. re: arashall

        Yeah... the taste is the important thing, but I wish I knew why this was happening.

        If anyone complains, I'll tell them to get in touch with you for further instructions. ; )

      2. Usually when the chocolate is too warm, I get streaks in the finish, not spots like that. I wonder if the granulated sugar is the culprit, maybe it is inducing over-crystallization in a random pattern? Or maybe you are getting spots of sugar bloom from the syrup. Try letting some of your zest dry without adding extra sugar, or at least knock off as much of the excess as you can before dipping.

        2 Replies
        1. re: babette feasts

          Interesting.. sugar crystals do have a tendency to want to glom onto other sugar crystals. You may be on to something.

          1. re: elspeth mcdoodle

            And here's the very same chocolate, subjected to the same temperatures, but piped onto gingerbread pigs --- no bloom! It's glossier, too.

        2. I recall my mother made two versions: one was the variant rolled in sugar, and another skipped the rolling in sugar but just did the chocolate dip (which were already sweetened from the simmering in sugar syrup). The result was a "variety pack" gift: people got a handful of each. So you might try a chocolate tester without rolling in sugar to see how it looks.

          1 Reply
          1. re: MagicMarkR

            Thank you for the tip. Mothers just know these things. :-)

          2. I made these for the first time this year. The way I prepped the orange peel sounds similar, except that I didn't scrape it. Mine might have been extra-bitter when naked, but once the chocolate was on it, I liked the combination of flavors. Next time I'll let the peels drain a little longer before rolling in sugar--these were a little too wet and the sugar clumped. I had to knock off the excess when they dried.

            I haven't done a lot of chocolate dipping before. I'd heard about tempering it, but I don't really know how that works and I didn't even attempt it. I used Ghirardelli Double Chocolate Bittersweet Chips and just melted them in a measuring cup in the microwave. The orange peels came out beautiful--no streaks, no blooming--and they were a big hit on my cookie plates.

            Probably beginners luck--next year, if I'm worried about it, they'll probably bloom and streak all over the place!