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Greetings chocoholics!

I'm having trouble dipping truffle centres in white chocolate, and I'm hoping someone can help out...

I'm dipping by hand, small batches, and using Valrhona Ivoire. Heating with a double boiler, following Valrhona's suggested temperature curve, and seeding with chips of the Ivoire.

Also - and this may be significant – I'm adding a very small amount of  lemon zest to the chocolate.

The problem I have is that the melted Ivoire isn't quite fluid enough, and seems to  become less fluid after I start dipping.  On its way down to 79/80°F it seems to have a good consistency, but less so once it has reached the lower temperature and is then heated to working temperature.

I expecially want a fairly fluid chocolate here as the centres that I'm dipping have to come more or less straight out of the freezer (they're quite creamy, and too soft at room temperature to dip), and I want them to spend as little time as possible in the chocolate... and the thicker consistency (compared to the dark chocolate I'm working with) is making this difficult.

Can I thin the chocolate slightly with cocoa butter perhaps? Or am I maybe not being quite careful enough with temperature?

Tags: chocolate, ivoire, tempering, valrhona, white

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Paul:

The thing that occurs to me right away is that your centers are coming from the freezer and they're cooling the chocolate really, really quickly causing the cocoa butter to crystallize a lot faster than you expect.

First thought is to raise the temperature of the chocolate to as high as you possibly can and still keep it in temper. After dipping a couple of centers, stir the chocolate and check to see what temperature it is, and adjust accordingly.

Now - this may introduce other issues, such as the shells cracking because of the differential in temperatures.

Like Clay says the cold chocolate center will cause your couverture to cool down super fast. Perhaps this soft filling is better suited as a molded chocolate piece instead of a dipped piece ? The Vahlrona Ivoire is excellent couverture.

Hi Clay, Daniel,

THanks for the thoughts...

I hear what you say about the cold centres cooling the couverture too quickly, and maybe that is the issue - but as the centres spend relatively little time in there, and more importantly take with them out of the bath of chocolate that portion which has been cooled, I suspect the amount of heat 'drain' isn't actually that significant. Also, I'm not seeing a dramatic drop in chocolate temperature on the thermometer. But on the other hand I don't have a better theory ;-)

Taking the moulded route rather than dipped could make sense, and maybe I should give that another shot. I tried it before, but probably wasn't using suitable moulds - the main problem for me was getting a decent (not too thick, not too thin, reasonably even) shell thickness.

Paul:

There's another way to think about this.

Chocolate will continue to crystallize at a constant temperature (that's why it tends to thicken over the course of a day in a tempering machine even if nothing else changes). Cooling the chocolate induces faster crystallization. This cooling might be very local (within a few mm of the surface of your frozen center), but it can effect a very real change in the chocolate over time as the crystals are mixed in and spread.

So - while the temperature might not change "significantly," you are inducing faster crystal formation in the chocolate that's left behind in the bowl.

Ah, I'm with you - thanks, that's making sense, and rather fascinating. A tricky issue to manage if that's what's going on. I'll have a shot at working at the highest possible temperature, as you suggest, and maybe a larger volume of chocolate to dip in.

If that doesn't give satisfactory results then perhaps go back to the moulding route, as Daniel suggests

Paul,

If adjusting the temp, and working with a larger volume doesn't remedy the situation, another thing to consider is moisture. Depending on the humidity of your working environment, frozen centers can collect condensation very quickly after removing them from the freezer. They can develop a thin layer of frost that can then melt into the warm chocolate, causing it to thicken and seize. Also, along with natural oils, freshly grated lemon zest contains some moisture. You can try using a drop or two of pure lemon oil instead of the zest.

I use Valrhona Ivoire, and it quite fluid. It's very hygroscopic though, and will absorb moisture from the air. I had an open bag that I misplaced, and when I found it and tried to work with the remaining chocolate, it was very thick. You might want to temper a small batch without adding anything to it, and try dipping some room temp items, just to be sure it's not the chocolate that is the problem.  

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