So, I showed my sister how to temper chocolate the other night, as she needed a “healthy dessert” (*cough* oxymoron *cough*) to bring to work. Okay, so there are such things as healthy desserts – and one in particular is chocolate covered strawberries. Yes folks, if it is done right, you can nosh on one or two, and it’s still healthy for you and under 100 calories!
Whenever I use chocolate in baking and desserts, I tend to go dark. Dark chocolate has more cocao solids, which gives a deeper “chocolatey” flavor, and it also happens to be healthier for you, so they say. Milk and white chocolate contain more sugar and milk products which gives a milder, sweeter flavor. Tempering chocolate means manipulating the temperature of the chocolate so that many crystals in the fat of the cocao butter form to make a shiny and crisp surface. Yeesh – and I thought I was done with chemistry when I dropped the pre-med track in undergrad!
So, as my sister stirred and stirred and stirred the chocolate, I was taking its temperature and making sure it got to the right levels at the right time. Her strawberries were a success, and I needed to make use of the leftover chocolate. So, I looked to see what was in the cupboards, and at midnight, I started to pipe some dark chocolate mendiants. “Mendiants” are simple chocolate disks or squares topped with dried fruit and/or nuts. I had some cranberries, golden raisins and walnuts in the cupboards, and there you have ’em… Voila!