People who’ve made candy at home may have looked at yesterday’s posts and thought: what’s all the fuss about? Why go to all that trouble when there are perfectly good nontempering chocolates to be had? A reasonable question. Nontempering chocolates, also known as coating chocolates, are chocolates from which the cocoa butter has been removed and another fat put in its place (usually a tropical nut fat like palm oil). These chocolates are common items in candy making supply stores, and are used as an exterior coating for caramels, truffles and the like. Some people use them for jobs like coating berries, since they provide all the luster and snap of tempered chocolate without the hassle of tempering.
The trouble is, they don’t much taste like real chocolate, and they rarely behave like it. Chocolate is more than a flavor experience, after all, it’s a texture experience, and cocoa butter is the driving force behind it. It’s just-below-body-temperature melting point is what gives chocolate that silky, sensuous quality. Fats with higher melting points might have utility, but they certainly aren’t as pleasant to eat. They actually have to be chewed!
Now me, I’d never begrudge a candy maker a hard coating on a hazelnut cluster. Mass-produced candy ships all over the world, and needs to be in good, stable condition when it arrives at the Kinshasa Hyatt for tea time. But making candy at home is a special thing. So I say, why not use the good stuff? As I mentioned yesterday, playing with chocolate isn’t a half-bad way to pass the time. It’s fun to look over a tray of home-made candies, assessing the variations in quality that resulted from temperature fluctuations. The round, shiny ones can go to the neighbors. The rest…well, let’s break out the ice cream!
Would I go to the trouble of tempering the chocolate for this week’s peanut butter cup recipe? Maybe not normally. But I’ve been talking pretty big. I better put my money where my mouth is.