Wednesday, October 20, 2010

"So My Chocolate Should Have a Temper???" And Other Baking Discoveries

I'm getting ready to leave for Cambodia in two weeks and promised some friends I would make them some more red velvet cake truffles before I left.
But wait, these cake truffles, well...they look just like your cake balls?
Ah, you are quite right! Needless to say, I was bringing said cake truffles to my production team at church. And although it may seem silly, I felt that cake 'truffles' were much more PC than cake 'balls'. Am I right?

While my last recipe went over quite well, I didn't think the chocolate bark from Kroger was befitting of the title truffle, so I decided to use a higher quality chocolate. For this task, no 'chocolate flavored candy' would do.

Actually I just happened to have some bars of Ghirardelli semi-sweet chocolate on hand, so I figured it couldn't be that complicated. And I was first. I used a double boiler and melted the chocolate bars (it took me a total of 8 bars). I pulled my red velvet cake balls out of the freezer, dipped each in the chocolate and then laid them gently onto a fresh sheet of parchment. Easy-peasy. The Ghirardelli chocolate made a marked improvement in the flavor and they looked pretty good too. I took them into church and to work the following Monday. They received rave reviews and a few people even expressed interest in buying some over the holidays and for a wedding.

The following morning however, I woke up and my beautiful cake balls, err, truffles looked like this (pictured below). I didn't refrigerate them and they were stored in a sealed container. What could I have done wrong?

These truffles had a bad temper!
As it turns out, chocolate should be tempered when used for coating or dipping. Yes, I had no idea what that meant until I Googled it. Those heinous looking spots are called fat blooms, and despite their appearance the chocolate is still fine to eat. Fat blooms are an accumulation of cocoa butter crystals on the chocolate's surface. One of the common causes is due to poor (or complete disregard of) tempering of the chocolate. If chocolate is properly tempered it will appear much more glossy and will form a crisp shell.

So there you have it. I guess some things are good with a little temper. Lesson learned for the Velveteen Baker. To avoid my little snafu, you can watch this video from Ghirardelli about how to properly temper chocolate.


  1. Mine sorta looked like that the next day too! I wrapped the cake pops in a wrapper but one still looked like that. The white chocolate ones were fine but the milk chocolate ones weren't. Thanks for the tip!

  2. Great post. I have trouble whenever I dip anything in chocolate. Thanks for sharing.

  3. Hey Danielle! When I used candy melts and chocolate bark before it didn't seem to have the same problem. From what I've read now, candy melts and/or chocolate bark doesn't require tempering.

    Thanks Gitte! I couldn't agree more, I had no idea how complicated it was to work with chocolate.

  4. Good post! I have yet to tackle tempering, but I'll be sure to use your instructions as a guide. Thanks for sharing :)

  5. Hi there! I just came upon this recipe and might give it a try today--looks delicious.

    Where in Cambodia are you going, and for how long? I was just there last year!

  6. Thanks @culinaryneophyte! I like your blog. I can't believe I missed national cupcake week.

    As for the question about Cambodia, I'm going to be in both Siem Reap and Poipet. I'll be there for about 10 days not including travel. I'm going over with a team of people and working with some organizations around the issues of human trafficking. If you have any travel tips or pointers let me know!

  7. Hi Christina-

    I volunteered over in Southeast Asia as well, but Cambodia was the only country where I purely traveled. That's great that you're doing something to help! I didn't go to Poipet, but in general (and not to give you any ideas, but I will...) I found it an often depressing country. The entire country is still affected every day from the mass genocide. Additionally, there's little forward movement and few ways for citizens to learn new skills. They're probably the most money-hungry country I've ever been to, and the hawkers in Siem Reap are the worst since it's heavily touristed. You'll learn to (sadly) ignore everyone or they'll hawk you to tears! The worst thing is that in such tourist towns, "friendliness" is often a technique used for getting your money, not that you can blame them when you see the shape of the country. If you're traveling afterwards in the area, though, I'd be happy to recommend places or share photos. Sorry for the long post and good luck with your trip!



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