Candy making is a true science. They say that about baking but truthfully there is sooome leeway in baking- candy making? not so much- but SO satisfying and your friends will be mega impressed.
Making chocolate candies like a pro requires tempering of the chocolate. This is a process of melting and cooling the chocolate that develops the cocoa crystals. The result is a glossy snappy chocolate that doesn’t streak or bloom. This can be a little on the fiddly side, but I promise, it absolutely is doable.
My best advice is to give yourself plenty of time and an uber clean work environment and then relax and enjoy. Water is an enemy of chocolate tempering, so if your melting your chocolate over a double boiler take extra care not to let any drips get into the bowl.
The method highlighted above is simple and direct. You can use an instant read thermometer like the one you stick in the Turkey bird. There is a specific glass chocolate thermometer with a narrow temperature range. Not an expensive investment, but not really necessary. Another word of advice- the greater the volume of chocolate the more stable it will be and temperature variables will be slower. The worst case? If you overheat the chocolate it will lose it’s temper, and like a sleep deprived 2 year old, there is no bringing it back to behave. Not a loss though, the chocolate is still delicious and can be used in baking, truffle fillings or icings.
When it comes to making chocolates, I use a chocolate tempering machine. I purchased my Revolation 2 about 15 years ago. I don’t do a ton of candy making or dipping, but man oh man, do I love this machine. If you can get your hands on one, or share one with a pal- it’s awesome. Remember, there are Valentines and Easter opportunities…
Tips on making Nonpareils:
These candies can be made with any color of chocolate but I just love the white on white for the holidays.
Make sure you get the smallest silver dragees possible. I used size 0- any larger and they are too crunchy to eat gracefully.
When decorating with the dragees let the chocolate set for a minute or two before sprinkling on the dragees. Because they are a little heavy they will sink into the chocolate when it is first poured. My method is to pipe out an entire tray and then decorate. Have all your goodies at the ready, cooling chocolate waits for no one.
When piping out chocolate use a CLEAN pastry bag or make a parchment cone. Any contamination in the chocolate makes it cranky.
Properly tempered chocolate that is left over can be melted and tempered again. Ain’t that a beautiful thing?
A word about chocolates- firstly, NO NOT use “coatings”. These are waxy substitutes for chocolate the way Velveeta pretends it’s cheese. Using quality chocolate is really worth the price and effort here. It’s best to buy chocolate in block form from a dealer and not buy bars at the supermarket. NY Cake and Baking supply sells in smaller and larger quantities and so do many other sources. If you plan on making chocolates for Valentines, investing in a slab, or 5 Kilo (11lb) block can be worth it as the cost is about half and it will keep. Just store in a cool place or wrap tightly and store in fridge- just keep the wrapping on when warming to room temperature. You don’t want to create any condensation on the chocolate (see above about water and chocolate).
Lastly- when adding things in to make clusters keep in mind the temperature of them. Whatever you use needs to be room temp otherwise it will throw off the temper. This goes for dipping cold centers since the chocolate that drips back into the bowl will be cooler. Watch the temperature level of the chocolate and keep it in range- my machine alerts me with a beep when the temp starts to slip out of range- so I just wait a minute until it brings the temp back on track (SEE why I love this thing so much?).
See the resource page at the top of the page for purchasing sources for all needs here.