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For your sweetheart (chocolate, of course)

Posted by Sheryl Julian  February 3, 2010 02:30 PM

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Boston Globe contributing writer Lisa Yockelson describes these brownies as "dark as night." I made them last weekend -- using the cakier alternative she offers in the recipe -- and they are still mighty fudgy. There are enough tucked away in my freezer to enjoy after the Valentine's Day supper I plan to make (fish, steamed veg, plenty of calories left for an indulgence).

But I was thinking today about what I would do if I didn't have time to make anything. I decided I'd dip dried apricots into chocolate, and then the Culinary Institute of America -- quite by coincidence -- sent these instructions. They call it "Chocolate-Dipped Anything." They suggest dipping strawberries (they're out of season), dried fruits, and pretzels.

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Whatever you choose, you have to temper the chocolate. That means heating, cooling, and heating again, so the chocolate coating is shiny and has no streaks. It takes more patience then skill and requires a thermometer. Here are instructions.

Tempering chocolate

1. Weigh or measure your chocolate (you need to do this; you may want to buy two identical bars of the same weight to make it easier). You'll need a second amount of chocolate equal to 25 percent of the first amount.
2. In a bowl over hot but not simmering water, melt the larger amount of chocolate. Remove the bowl from the hot water. The chocolate should be 120 degrees (dark chocolate) or 110 degrees (milk or white chocolate).
3. Add the smaller amount of unmelted chocolate to the melted chocolate. This is called "the seed." It will cool the melted chocolate. Stir gently and constantly off the heat until the chocolate temperature falls to 85 degrees (dark) or 83 degrees (milk, white). It may take 15 to 20 minutes for most or all of the seed to melt.
4. Test the chocolate (an important step): Make sure the chocolate is below 90 degrees. Dip a spoon into the mixture, set it on a work surface, and let it sit undisturbed for 7 to 8 minutes -- do not refrigerate -- or until the chocolate no longer looks wet and the surface is uniform and without streaks. (If the chocolate has not set or is streaky, you need to seed again. Add a small block of unmelted chocolate to the bowl, stir another 3 to 4 minutes and test again.)
5. When the chocolate sets properly, return the bowl to the water bath, which should not exceed 89 degrees (dark) or 86 degrees (milk, white), for a few minutes.
6. To dip fruit, make sure it is room temperature. If fruit is cut, dry the cut pieces with paper towel to remove excess moisture. Use a dipping fork or two forks or hold the fruit at one end, and dip it into the chocolate mixture. If dipping cookies or other dry items, start dipping right away. 
7. Set the dipped pieces on parchment paper to set. Leave them at room temperature to dry. Adapted from The Culinary Institute of America's "Chocolates and Confections at Home"
About Dishing

What's cooking in the world of food.

Contributors

Sheryl Julian, the Globe's Food Editor, writes regularly for the Food section.

Devra First is the Globe's food reporter and restaurant critic. Her reviews appear weekly in the Food section.

Ellen Bhang reviews Cheap Eats restaurants for the Globe and writes about wine.
 

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