I've been playing around with cake balls, and where I usually roll in shaved chocolate, I tried dipping them into melted chocolate over the weekend. It worked well, even looked nice (pics are posted in the gallery http://cakecentral.com/gallery/2035831 ). I thought it was a success! We ate some, and I packaged up the rest, just stacked them in a tupperware bowl and slapped a lid on.
On Tuesday, I wanted to put them on a platter to take to the bible study that friends of ours do for a group of teenagers. While the white chocolate covered cake balls were still firm and pretty, all the flavors that I had dipped into the milk chocolate (especially the peanut butter chocolate balls) had gotten dull and the chocolate was weak, where my finger would poke right through as I picked them up. Luckily, teenagers don't seem to care what anything looks like, as long as it tastes good! I got rave reviews back from everyone.
I'm a bit disheartened though that this happened. I might go back to just rolling in shaved chocolate instead of dipping, even though I like the look of the dipping better. Any ideas why this may have happened? Chocolate too hot, not tempered enough (I don't even know what that means, I just always hear that your chocolate must be tempered ). I didn't add any shortening to the chocolate, because it melted so smooth without it. I used a mix of Wilton (ugh) and almond bark for the white, since that was what I had in my cupboard, and for the chocolate, I had Chocoa fountain and fondue chocolate. Maybe it's the brand? I don't know, but I would welcome any advice from more knowledgeable chocolatiers!
I am not familiar with the brand of chocolate you used but I am pretty sure the problem is from your chocolate not being tempered. Tempering actually aligns the crystals in chocolate making it stable. All of the chocolate you buy is tempered that is why it is stable on the shelves. When you use shavings you are working with tempered chocolate and that is why you don't have any trouble with them. Once you melt chocolate you have taken it out of temper and unless you re-temper it, it will not go back to the form you started with. Tempering is not difficult if you know the process, but directions are too lengthy for this post. If you would like the instruction I can email them to you, just let me know. Once you put the cake balls in a covered container, the moisture in the cake created a moist environment and started softening the chocolate. I would recommend that if you don't want to mess with tempering you could try using a coating chocolate. This type of chocolate has additives that stabilize it. For that reason you should buy the highest quality coating chocolate you can find because a lot of it doesn't taste very good. I hope this helps and was not too much useless information.
Thanks for the info tbkimber! I just spent about 15 minutes looking up tempering so you wouldn't have to send me a lengthy email. Actually, that's what I've been doing all along. I heat up some chocolate, then add the rest. Huh. I must have read it somewhere long long ago, and been doing it all along, lol. Maybe I ought to break out a candy thermometer to make sure I'm hitting the right temperatures, in case that's the issue with the cloudiness. Usually I dip potato chips though, and not moist stuff like cake balls, perhaps it is the moisture weakening the chocolate. Would the moisture cause the dullness too, if I was actually tempering properly?
So many questions, I know, I know...
You do need a thermometer because the correct temperatures are critical. For anyone else is seeing this, the process needs the chocolate to reach 110 degrees when melted. Then the chocolate cools to 80-84 degrees but it needs to be stirred briskly during the cooling, causing the crystals to form. The chocolate then needs to be rewarmed and held at 88 degrees but cannot exceed 90 degrees.
The method you are using is called seeding and the chocolate again needs to be melted to 110 degrees. Next add tempered chips equaling approximately one third (1/3) of the weight of the melted chocolate and stir briskly, checking the temperature often. This cools the chocolate to temper but the temperature needs to be held at 88 degrees. However, if you add too much tempered chocolate it will bring the temperature down too much. If you don't add enough it won't bring the temperature down enough. Either way has a lot of stirring involved. I usually use a heating pad on low under the bowl to maintain 88 degrees but the chocolate needs to be stirred often to keep the bottom from getting too hot.
The cloudiness is called bloom and it is usually from the chocolate being out of temper, most of the time it has gotten too hot.
I like the heating pad idea! I usually end up reheating in the microwave at 50% for 15 to 30 seconds. Sa-weeet! Thank you
The heating pad works great. However, a friend of mine bought a new one and it would turn itself off after ten minutes or so and she ended up having to re-temper her chocolate because she didn't notice it. Just wanted to let you know so you could check yours a head of time.