Who doesn’t love chocolate? It might seem like an advanced homemaking skill to create chocolate candies. However, the truth is that making chocolate candies at home is easy to do, and it quickly makes a beautiful and delicious treat.
Here are some tips to help you make your next chocolate project a rich success:
Some Chocolate Basics
There are several different kinds of chocolate that you can use for your candy. You can get normal chocolate chips from the store, confectionery coating chocolate, or pure chocolate. It’s important for you to know ahead of time that both chocolate chips and pure chocolate will need to be tempered in order for you to use them in candy. Tempering chocolate prevents the separation of the cocoa fat. When it separates, it creates a dull appearance and waxy taste. However, properly tempered chocolate will give you a glossy sheen and a good snap to the chocolate.
Tempering chocolate will require you to melt the chocolate and bring it up to a certain temperature (which varies depending on what kind of chocolate it is) and then letting it cool to a certain temperature. What tempering does is encourage the cocoa butter in the chocolate to crystallize in a certain way.
If you would rather skip the tempering step, simply get confectionery chocolate instead. You can purchase already-tempered discs known as fèves with a wide range of quality and type.
Tips for Melting Chocolate
Chocolate-making is easier when you have a few basic tools. You’ll need a glass bowl, and you’ll probably want a bench-scraper if you’re planning to spreading out chocolate bars like peppermint bark. If you’re tempering your own chocolate, it can also be really handy to have a thermometer and granite counter-tops, or at least a granite slab, which as this article states, is great for candy-making since it’s naturally cool and smooth to the touch.
When you melt your already-tempered chocolate, you have a couple easy options:
- In a glass bowl, melt it in 30-second intervals in the microwave, stirring thoroughly between each dose to see if it will melt thoroughly.
- Create your own double-boiler by placing the glass bowl in a bigger pot of hot water, which you’ve brought to a simmer, and then turned off right before placing the chocolate inside. Stir as it melts.
In order to make your chocolate melt smoothly, here are some tips and troubleshooting:
- Never let water get into the chocolate!
- If you’re working with a bar, chop up your chocolate ahead of time so that you have evenly-sized pieces that will melt together.
- Don’t overheat the chocolate.
- If you’re dipping fruit in the chocolate, make sure that it’s completely dry before dipping, or the chocolate won’t stick.
Great Chocolate-Making Ideas
If you’re coming up dry on easy ideas for your chocolate making, try a few of these simple favorites:
Just about anything dipped in chocolate is automatically better. This is a great way to start your chocolate-making adventures because you don’t need molds or extra tools; just something to hold as you dip, and a roll of wax paper where you can set things to cool.
Try dipping fruits and berries like strawberries, raspberries, mandarin orange slices, and pineapple. Remember, as we mentioned above, that you’ll want all fruit to be perfectly dry before dipping. Chocolate-dipped fruit is also a great treat for kids. As this article mentions, chocolate is a relatively healthy treat, and if the bulk of the treat is actually fruit, you don’t have to feel guilty about having more than one.
You might also want to try dipping pretzels, nuts, or oreos for a fun, gourmet experience.
Now, if you’re ready for something just one step up from chocolate-dipped pretzels, you might try making truffles or cake bites. They’re surprisingly easy, but they make an unforgettable treat. You can make oreo-cake bites simply by mixing up oreo crumbs and cream cheese, rolling them into balls, and then covering them with chocolate. You can also make a simple ganache filling, firm enough to hold its shape, before you cover it in chocolate.
You can make decadent chocolates by mixing ingredients and pouring it into molds, either with fillings, or nuts and special flavorings.
If you want to try out making a chocolate bar, the easiest to start with is peppermint bark. Peppermint bark is simply a layer of dark chocolate, followed by a layer of white chocolate, with crushed up peppermint candies on top. Make sure that the bottom layer cools thoroughly before adding the second.
What are your favorite chocolate treats to make? Share yours below!