Are you looking for the perfect gift to give someone special for an anniversary, graduation, or other special occasion? A box of chocolate treats is a great choice for most anyone, especially when you've made the chocolate goodies yourself. Dipping various tasty treats in chocolate is not very difficult. Just follow this guide:
Selecting the Chocolate
It's impossible to make excellent chocolate treats without excellent chocolate, so pay close attention to the chocolate you buy for this project. Chocolate chips, while convenient, are not ideal for this project since they tend to harden with a swirled and streaked appearance after being melted, thanks to their low cocoa butter content. What you're looking for is a chocolate that contains at least 31 percent cocoa butter. These chocolates, which are often marketed as couverture chocolates, are made specifically for melting and will yield much more attractive results. You may have to visit a specialty foods store to find them, but it's worth the trip.
Save time by shopping for your dippable treats at the same time you're buying your chocolate. You can dip most anything, but popular choices include pretzels, various nuts, marshmallows, graham crackers and chocolate cookies.
Melting the Chocolate
Once you have the right chocolate in hand, the next secret to success is melting it properly. Do not microwave your chocolate or heat it directly in a pan on the stove; the risk of scorching it is too high. Instead, fill the bottom portion of a double boiler with water, and bring it to a simmer. Add chocolate to the top portion of the double boiler (reserve a few pieces of chocolate for later), and stir continually while it melts, keeping the burner on medium-low heat.
Once the chocolate has melted, it is time to pull out your thermometer and take its temperature. Continue heating until the chocolate reaches 112 degrees F if you're working with milk chocolate or 118 degrees F if you're working with dark chocolate. Remove the chocolate from the heat, and add the chocolate that you set to the side. Stir until this chocolate melts. This will bring the temperature of the chocolate down slightly and give it a consistency that's easier to work with.
Dipping and Hardening Your Treats
Once your chocolate is melted and ready, lay out sheets of wax paper on some baking sheets. Then, start dipping. The easiest way to dip most items is to hold one end with your fingers, and then just dip them into the chocolate. Swirl them around in the chocolate a little for an even coating, and then set them flat on the wax paper. Here are a few specific tips to help you successfully dip common treats:
Pretzels: If you're dipping classic, folded style pretzels, make sure you let a little chocolate drizzle off before placing them on the wax paper. This keeps the chocolate from hardening in one clump and camouflaging the pretzels' shape.
Marshmallows: If you want to completely coat the marshmallow, put it on a toothpick, and then submerge it in the chocolate. Pull it up, place it on the wax paper, and remove the toothpick. Use the toothpick to swirl a little chocolate over the hole it left.
Nuts: Instead of tediously dipping nuts individually, create some nut clusters. Pour some nuts into a bowl, and then add chocolate until there is enough to evenly coat the nuts. Drop them by teaspoons onto the wax paper.
When you're done coating your treats, place the trays in the refrigerator to let the chocolate harden.
Packaging Your Treats
Purchase some chocolate boxes from a local craft store or re-use old ones. You'll also need some miniature muffin tin liners. Place each piece of chocolate in a muffin tin liner, and then arrange as many candies as will fit inside the box. Group similar candies together, or mix them all up for a more eclectic look.
When your box is filled, put the lid on, and tie a strand of ribbon around the box. Write a cute message on a sticky label, and add it to the box. Present it to your loved one — and watch them smile at your homemade gift.
Visit a site like http://www.abdallahcandies.com to learn more custom chocolate options that could be great as gifts.