Monday, September 5, 2011

How to Make Chocolate Peanuts, Turtles and Other Chocolate Covered Products

One of the most interesting ways chocolate candy is made is a modern method that involves a machine called an "enrober". Imagine a cupcake cup in which you place a pretzel. Fill the cup up with warm chocolate. Then make slits or slots on all four sides so that the extra chocolate will run out of the cup and into a catching tray.

Now when you flood the cup with chocolate it coats the pretzel, but as the chocolate flows back out of the cup the pretzel remains coated. If you move this cup on a belt through a cooling tunnel the chocolate will harden to its final form. Suppose there are 12 cups in a row on a conveyor line, all filled with pretzels. The cups pass beneath a nozzle that fills the cups with chocolate. The overflow runs out through the slits in the cup.

The above method would not be perfect if you need to have chocolate on the bottom of the piece. When you make chocolates in an enrober that needs a chocolate bottom first, before you place an item in the cup you add a small amount of chocolate in the cup bottom. The cup then passes through a chilling tunnel where the bottom sets. The cup is then filled with a nut or fruit center. Then the cup is top flooded with chocolate. The entire piece passes through a cooling tunnel to make the final hard set. Often this is the way production chocolate pieces are made for the large companies.

The excess chocolate recirculates and is used again to flood the next cups with chocolate. This is an enrobing line and you can always tell enrobing because there is a flat bottom on the chocolate item.

Smaller chocolate makers hand dip the chocolates - one at a time - and this is slower but more individualized. An enrober give constant quality, appearance, and large volume of products.

This method of chocolate coating is machinery intensive and requires expensive equipment. A normal plant might make 2,000 pounds of enrobed chocolate pieces on a typical production run!

Have you ever wondered how it is that we can dip nuts into chocolate so that the chocolate comes out distributed evenly all around the nut?

When the nut is coated commercially it goes through an enrobing process. If you had a cup and poured a little chocolate in it and set the chocolate, then placed a nut in the cup on the chocolate bottom, and then flowed chocolate over the nut with the excess flowing out of the cup, you would be enrobing. The finished coated nut goes through cooling tunnels to harden the chocolate and is then popped out of the cup.

You can not do that at home. About the best you can do is to pour chocolate in a mold and then push the nut into the center. As it sets the nut will form a core. Sometimes you can buy these molds at cake decorating specialty shops. They are usually made of flexible rubber or plastic.

You might also try an easier method, but more specialized. Take the nut in your hand and dip the nut into the chocolate and give your wrist a quick turn as you lift the chocolate-coated nut out of the bowl. The chocolate will run off, but some will stay on the nut forming a thin layer. Set on wax paper to dry. You can dip several times and this will build up a mass.

This method is an art-form and when you hear of "hand-dipped" chocolates, this is what they mean. It takes about a year of steady dipping and twisting to get talented so don't be discouraged if it does not go well.

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