The grey, post-holiday months of January and February, when happy celebrations feel few and far between are the perfect time to practice your chocolate-dipping skills and bring joy to the kitchen. There are many ways you can enjoy a chocolate-dipped treat; it all depends on how you like your chocolate.
Perhaps you just want to cloak everything in smooth, warm, melted chocolate — in that case, chocolate fondue is for you. You can dip bread, fruit, cookies, or cake into the molten chocolate — but really, chances are whatever you submerge in quality chocolate will be delicious and a joy to eat.
Perhaps you are craving chocolate that is set but still soft, for a bite that gives way with ease as with these chocolate-covered strawberries. Adding a little fat to the melted chocolate — for instance, using cream with the chocolate to make a thick ganache, or adding about a teaspoon of shortening to every half cup of melted chocolate — will give you a smoother, more manageable consistency for dipping. Bonus tip: If you add coconut oil to melted chocolate you’ll have a “magic shell” for your ice cream.
If you want chocolate that is smooth, glossy, and hardens when you leave it to dry, you’ll need to temper it. You can tell that chocolate is tempered if you hear a sharp, clean crack when you break a piece of it. If truffles are on your holiday baking to-do list, tempering is essential.
Tempering chocolate can be intimidating, especially since the chocolate must hit certain precise temperatures in order for it to work properly. Follow our guide to tempering chocolate here, but, essentially, you must first heat and melt your chocolate to 115 degrees Fahrenheit, then rapidly lower the temperature to 81 degrees while stirring it vigorously. Then the chocolate is reheated again until it reaches a range of 88 to 90 degrees before you can work with it. Watch this video with chocolate master Jacques Torres himself to get you started:
When Torres was once asked: “Where is the best place to store your chocolate or chocolate-covered goods?,” he responded, “Your stomach.” We couldn't agree more.
So make 2018 the year you learn all about cooking with chocolate and then proceed to dip everything you can in chocolate. These 15 chocolate covered recipes are a great place to start.
Rachael Pack contributed to this story.