Dipping truffles and other candy centers in chocolate adds a beautiful, delicious finishing touch. Without the chocolate coating, many candies are just too soft or sticky to package, transport or eat. But if you dip truffles incorrectly, you might be left with lumpy candies with cracked, streaked or bumpy chocolate coatings and nobody wants that!
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Allow Your Truffles to Form a Skin
One of the biggest problems people encounter when dipping truffles is keeping their truffles round and intact when dipping in warm chocolate. If the truffles are too soft, they will become misshapen or even melt into the chocolate, yielding a lumpy mess. If they are refrigerated before dipping, the chocolate coating is more likely to crack.
One solution to this problem is to let your rolled truffles sit at cool room temperature overnight before dipping them. This setting period will form a "skin" around the outside of the truffle, which helps them keep their shape and also eliminates the need for refrigeration before dipping. Warm environments and specific recipes may not work with this technique, but in general, it can be a very helpful trick to making nicely dipped truffles.
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The big question is, should you use real chocolate or chocolate-flavored candy coating? Both options have pros and cons: real chocolate tastes better, but for the best results it should be tempered, and tempering takes time and can be tricky. Chocolate coating doesn't taste as nice as real chocolate, but it is inexpensive, easy to work with and produces fast, consistent results.
If you decide to use chocolate candy coating, go to step 3, and if you decide to use real chocolate, go to step 4.
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Melt the Chocolate Coating
If your chocolate coating is in bar form, it will need to be chopped in order to melt evenly and not overheat. Many coating brands come in wafer form, so if you have wafers you don't need to worry about chopping them.
Place the chopped candy coating or candy coating wafers in a large microwave-safe bowl, and microwave in 30-second intervals. Stir after every 30 seconds. Stop heating when most of the coating is melted, and stir constantly until the remaining chunks of coating have melted and the mixture is smooth and even. [Skip to step 5 now.]
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Temper the Chocolate
For professional-looking dipped candies, your chocolate should be tempered. Chocolate that has been tempered is smooth with a shiny finish and a satisfying snap. Tempering is not a difficult process, but it can take time and requires a chocolate thermometer.
Note that if you are pressed for time you can simply melt your chocolate instead of tempering it, but the resulting candies will probably have to remain refrigerated or they will begin to get soft or sticky at room temperature.Continue to 5 of 8 below.
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Prepare Your Workstation
It is best to have everything ready before you begin dipping. Place your bowl of melted chocolate at your clean workstation and set out your dipping tools (or dinner forks). Cover a baking sheet with a clean piece of parchment, waxed paper or aluminum foil for placing the finished candies on.
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Dip the Centers in the Prepared Chocolate
Slide the edge of your fork or dipping tool under the truffle or candy center, and lift it up gently. Drop the truffle into the melted chocolate and push it just under the surface of the chocolate. Lift it out of the chocolate with the fork, and tap the fork several times against the side of the bowl. Slide the bottom of the fork over the lip of the bowl to remove any excess chocolate. Place the fork over the prepared baking sheet, and tilt the fork so the edge of the truffle touches the sheet. Smoothly slide the fork out from under the truffle. If you are adding decorations or garnishes to your candies, do it now when the chocolate is still wet. Repeat the process with the remaining centers and chocolate.
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Allow the Chocolate to Set
If the temperature of your room is moderately cool (60 F to 70 F), your candies can be left out to set, but if your room is warm or you want to speed up the process, you can refrigerate them for approximately 10 minutes to set the chocolate. The exception is untempered chocolate, which should always be refrigerated after dipping.
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Trim and Store the Candies
Once the chocolate has set, you might notice a small pool of chocolate forming "feet" at the bottom of your truffles. If desired, you can trim them with a small sharp paring knife. Wear gloves to avoid getting fingerprints on your candies and place them on a flat surface. Grip the candy in one hand, and use the paring knife to press down on the excess chocolate and cut it off in short clean strokes. Trimming the candies is purely an aesthetic decision, and you can certainly skip this step if desired.