Strap on your heart-shaped apron, it’s time to get romantic. And what could be more romantic than making sweets for your sweet with your own two hands? Our friends at ChefSteps wrote in this week with tips to tempering chocolate to ensure ultra smooth silkiness. This recipe is a little more involved than the usual sous vide recipes because you don’t want to melt your chocolate at a high temperature. Make sure to have ice at the ready to lower the temperature of your water bath at the right time. Now pick out your molds and get tempering!
Smooth, Silky Confections
About 2 hours
- Chocolate, about 500 grams, as needed
- Ice, about 2 liters, as needed
- Chocolate, tempered about 3 feves or wafers, as needed
- Sous vide setup
- Ziplock-style bags (optional)
- Sous vide bags (optional)
- Chamber vacuum sealer (optional)
- Digital instant-read thermometer (optional)
- Chocolate mold (optional)
- Preheat Joule or sous vide. Depending on the type of chocolate you’re using, set to these temperatures:
- Milk chocolate—for melting: 113/118°F; for crystallizing: 81/82°F; for working: 84/86°F
- Dark chocolate—for melting: 131/136°F; for crystallizing: 82/84°F; for working: 88/90°F
- White chocolate—for melting: 113/118°F; for crystallizing: 79/81°F; for working: 82/84°F
- Put your chocolate feves, wafers, or bits into a ziplock-style or heavy-duty sous vide bag. We developed this recipe using 500 g of chocolate—enough to fill a polycarbonate chocolate mold—in a one-gallon ziplock-style freezer bag. You can go a bit over or under that; just try not to overload the bag. (PRO TIP: If you have a vacuum sealer, now’s a good time to use it. Seal that bag up and submerge it completely in the water for more consistent results. If you don’t have one, don’t stress. It’s just chocolate!)
- Once you’re preheated to the appropriate melting temp, drop the bag into the water. Make sure the chocolate inside of the bag is completely submerged in water. (This is easier if you preheated plenty of water.) If you’re using a ziplock-style bag, close it completely and clip the side of the bag to the rim of your pot to prevent water from seeping in. If you’re using a sous vide bag, vacuum-seal if you can. To speed up the melting process, agitate the bag every so often by lifting it out, vigorously squeezing it to shift the chocolate around, and putting it back in. The chocolate should be fully melted in about 60 minutes, depending on the type you’re using and how much is in the bag.
- Using a cup or bottle, remove about two liters (two quarts or eight cups) of water from the pot to allow room for the ice. Add a handful of ice to the water and set Joule to the crystallization temperature for the type of chocolate you’re making. (Scroll up to those charts again if you need to refresh your memory.) Adding ice helps bring the temperature down more quickly, but you don’t want it to go below the desired crystallization temp, so don’t overdo it. You can add ice quickly at first, then slow down once the water temperature is a few degrees away from the desired temperature. You will need about two liters (two quarts or eight cups) of ice. Once the water has reached your desired temperature, return the bag to the water, making sure the water completely covers the chocolate. Agitate that bag now and then to make sure everything cools evenly. You can use a thermometer to check whether the chocolate is at the correct temperature.
- Using a microplane, gently grate in some hunks of tempered chocolate—about three feves, if you are using those. Once the chocolate has cooled to crystallization temperature, remove it from the water, add this “seed” chocolate, agitate the bag, and set it aside on the counter.
- Now set your sous vide to the working temperature for the type of chocolate you’re making. Let the chocolate sit for at least a few minutes at this temperature to warm up.
- Now you can work with the chocolate right away or hold it at this temperature for a bit while you get your molds or strawberries in order. If you leave the chocolate in the water too long, the viscosity will increase as the crystals start multiplying. Over time, more and more crystals will make the chocolate thicker and thicker, until casting and dipping are almost impossible. You can remedy this by bringing the temperature of the chocolate up by a couple of degrees until it thins slightly, and then bringing it back down to the working temperature. (Don’t leave the temp up for too long, or the chocolate will lose its temper.) In general, you want to work quickly. You can’t leave the chocolate there all day, or you’ll undo all your hard work. But really, don’t stress—you’re making chocolate, so life is probably pretty good.
- Okay, let’s go ahead and make those chocolates! Make sure to completely dry off the bag before using. We like to snip off the corner of the bag to use it like a makeshift piping bag—the smaller the hole, the better for delicate work.
- Once you’ve made your chocolates, rest them at a cool room temperature. If the room isn’t cool, you can place the molds in the fridge just long enough for the chocolate to cool and visibly start to pull away from the sides of the molds. (Chocolate shrinks as it cools and solidifies.) Avoid leaving them in the fridge for too long (and avoid the freezer)—if the chocolates get cold on the surface, moisture will condense on them when you remove them from the molds, leaving your candies cloudy rather than shiny. Remember, water is the enemy of chocolate. (TIP: To remove cooled chocolates from their molds, gently tap the edge of the tray against your work surface. They should pop right out. If they don’t, it’s likely the chocolate was not tempered correctly.)
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