Chocolate is an intriguing food--solid in the package but melting on the tongue . . . and your fingers . . . and your napkin . . . and the skirt you just had dry-cleaned. To make a no-melt chocolate coating (perhaps best described as less-melt), you need to employ a technique called tempering. To temper chocolate for making candy or covering fruit or even ice cream, follow the steps below.
Things You'll Need
Dark or milk chocolate in block form (not chips)
Sharp knife and dry cutting board
Double-boiler or ovenproof glass or stainless steel bowl
Cut chocolate in small pieces. Double-boiler method: Place chocolate in top of double boiler, then heat water over medium heat. Watch and stir chocolate as it melts, lowering heat as soon as melting begins. Stir until chocolate is nearly melted, remove from heat and stir until all pieces are melted. Chocolate will be thick, smooth and glossy. Your chocolate is now tempered. Let chocolate cool to approximately 85 degrees (slightly below human body temp; it will feel lukewarm to the touch but still liquid). Pour over candies or fruit to be coated.
Cut chocolate in small pieces. Oven method: Place chocolate pieces (some cooks suggest only 3/4 of chocolate pieces) in bowl and warm in very low (120 degree) oven till nearly melted. Remove from oven, adding any reserved pieces of chocolate; stir until all is just melted. Proceed as above.
Re-warm chocolate very slightly if it begins to solidify during use. Keep temperature low and warming slow, to avoid overheating chocolate, which will make it thin and runny.
Store items coated with tempered chocolate at cool room temperature. Like the chocolates in the heart-shaped box, they will remain solid until eaten.
Learning to temper chocolate may take a little practice. The key to doing this well is to keep temperatures low and melting slow. Practice once or twice before embarking on dessert for company. Always bring chocolate to the food being coated. Dipping foods into chocolate to coat them will affect the delicate balance created by tempering.
Keep all utensils completely dry. Water in any form makes chocolate grainy--even the steam from an over-enthusiastically-heated double boiler. A smooth chocolate can be produced by cooling the grainy results and adding a teaspoonful of cooking oil or white shortening for a second slow melting, but this remedy is not foolproof.