On (not) holding my temper

December 21, 2009 at 1:15 AM | Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

There’s something about a snowy day that automatically signals certain kinds of cooking. Last year before a major storm, Trader Joe’s ran out of brown sugar, flour, chocolate chips, and soup supplies like stock and carrots.

So given that it snowed last night and I’m still ecstatic about my new cache of free time, today was a day for projects. After cleaning closets and rearranging some furniture, I decided to use some dark chocolate that was leftover from a brownie recipe to make chocolate-dipped pretzels, since I recently acquired a candy thermometer and wanted to try tempering chocolate after reading an article about it in the New York Times. Tempering gives the chocolate the glossy appearance you see on professional candies, and helps avoid the dull, white-speckled surface that indicates the chocolate has “bloomed.” To temper the chocolate, you basically bring the temperature up, then down, then up again to encourage the creation of “beta” crystals (and no, I have no idea what that actually means).

I was a little disappointed in the candy thermometer. It is made for things that cook at really high temperatures (up to 300 degrees), so the scale is rather small and not so exact within the range of 82-115 degrees, the temperatures at which the chocolate needs to rise to and then drop to for tempering. Also, it’s really hard to keep the chocolate in the right temperature range for dipping.  And I’m not exactly sure whether my chocolate tempered correctly, since my apartment is too hot (damn steam heat) for it to harden appropriately. It was fun, though! Though note to self: next time, grease the cooling rack in order to avoid having to free each pretzel individually by sticking a chopstick through one of the pretzel holes and making a little lever to free the pretzel.

Let's just say that they looked prettier when I took this picture (before I had to pry them off the rack)

What I was unequivocally successful at, though, was making a gigantic mess.

Somehow I also got chocolate all over the cabinet, the counter, the floor, and myself

Also, I got a little creative and used some pearl sugar that I bought in Paris to sprinkle on the pretzels and make a sort of  salted-pretzel look.

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  1. See you soon


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