Give the gift that keeps on smearing
December 23, 2009 1:53 PM   Subscribe

[HomemadeCandyFilter] We made Chocolate-Almond Buttercrunch Toffee according to this recipe. The toffee part is great; the chocolate part appears to be a train wreck.

Basically, it's break and spread nuts, spread toffee over top, break and spread chocolate, add another layer of nuts. Everything went flawlessly, including the making of toffee with our thrilling new candy thermometer. But the chocolate is not re-hardening at all. This is not good.

I used continental plain chocolate (74% cocoa) and it never occurred to me this might happen or that I needed particular chocolate. Is this stuff ever going to get hard or will I have to scrape it off and do this over again with some other chocolate?

Where did I go wrong and how do I fix this?
We plan to give this stuff as packaged gifts so I do need to fix it. Thanks!
posted by DarlingBri to Food & Drink (13 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
How long has it been?
posted by peep at 1:55 PM on December 23, 2009

Yeah, that's odd. Hot sugar syrups can hold heat for a surprisingly long time, though, so perhaps that's it. Is the chocolate melted-texture, or just kinda-soft-texture? It should harden up as the whole thing cools.

We make chocolate bark and usually don't bother tempering the chocolate, and it still firms up just fine when it cools, so I don't think it's a tempered/untempered thing.
posted by rtha at 2:00 PM on December 23, 2009

Response by poster: It's been about an hour and a half. It's pudding consistency. Normally I wouldn't panic but this answer scared me when it came up as a result for chocolate hardening times. Not that I trust Yahoo Answers, mind.
posted by DarlingBri at 2:08 PM on December 23, 2009

Best answer: Did you stick it in the refrigerator for a bit? That's what I did with mine last week.
posted by HopperFan at 2:14 PM on December 23, 2009

When I make toffee it does take a while to cool and for the chocolate to harden. I've had success chucking the whole pan into the fridge when I've been in a hurry. It has never bloomed.

I also made some candies a few days ago that are dipped into chocolate to coat. This particular candy is cold when you coat it with melted chocolate, but the hardening still took a couple of hours.

Patience will be your friend, I think. Or else the fridge.
posted by Stewriffic at 2:14 PM on December 23, 2009

I second the, How long has it been? Are you cooling it in the fridge? I think it takes at least an hour in the fridge before my toffee cools enough. And when I recently made peppermint bark, I left it on the counter after spreading the second layer for an hour or two and it was still very soft. Had to put it in the fridge before it re-hardened (which I always do; I was just busy and hadn't gotten around to it).
posted by quirks at 2:16 PM on December 23, 2009

Best answer: Did you temper the chocolate?

If this were my project, I'd go out and buy compound/coating/dipping chocolate, and just seal the non-hardening chocolate in with a layer of that, for a "chocolate truffle" effect.
posted by Sidhedevil at 2:16 PM on December 23, 2009 [2 favorites]

Actually, it is the tempering. This chocolate was never tempered, or never tempered correctly by the manufacturer (which is why others can say "I never temper." You didn't have to, the manufacturer did it).

Short of remelting and tempering, you're screwed. The crystals didn't form correctly.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 2:18 PM on December 23, 2009

just seal the non-hardening chocolate in with a layer of that, for a "chocolate truffle" effect.

A-ha! That's a brilliant idea.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 2:19 PM on December 23, 2009

Response by poster: I didn't know I had to cool it - thanks for that. The recipe leaves a lot to be desired for a n00b, including this chocolate melting thing and instructions about how high the heat for making toffee should be.

I stuck the finished product in the un-heated back hall that is so cold olive oil froze in it yesterday. The little pieces of chocolate that had drizzled on the edges are now hard so that is a hopeful sign! When the whole thing has set I'll bring it back in and hope it doesn't go gooey again.

And if it does, I'll do what Sidhedevil suggests and coat it. Thanks a lot; I'll report back in a few hours.
posted by DarlingBri at 2:34 PM on December 23, 2009

When this happened to me, I solved the problem by dusting the sticky, smudgy chocolate with chopped nuts (some coarse, some fine as dust) and pressing it in with the flat of my hand. It made a little barrier between the hand and the chocolate.

If you decide to try it again and still don't feel like tempering the chocolate, here's what I did to good effect:

When you chop the chocolate, separate it roughly into bigger pieces (the size of a chocolate chip) and smaller pieces, including all the shards and bits of chocolate dust.

When the toffee has cooled a bit, scatter some of the chocolate bits --- say, two-thirds of them, and make sure it's the bigger pieces --- on top and let them soften. Spread them around, let 'em sit a minute, then dust the melted chocolate with the shards and dust and spread that around.

This is kinda like tempering without tempering: you get the bulk of the chocolate melted and warm, then drop the temp a bit and dose the melted chocolate with solid bits, which seeds the melted stuff with the stable crystalline structure.

I've done this a couple of times now when I was too lazy to get out the double boiler and the candy thermometer, and it works pretty well.
posted by Elsa at 3:19 PM on December 23, 2009

FWIW, here's an outstanding recipe that I made just a few days ago. It came out great. You could always leave out the coffee, if you're not into that sort of thing.
posted by crunchtopmuffin at 3:48 PM on December 23, 2009

Response by poster: We are bagged, tagged and ready to go! Sticking them in the Freezing Hallway of Doom did the trick; they set, and when I brought them inside to the toasty warm kitchen, stayed set!

We have moved on to making Stained Glass Cookies and Alton Brown's Hot Cocoa Mix and we are ready to go play Santa with our nearest and dearest over the next few days. Thank you for saving the centrepiece of our gift giving!
posted by DarlingBri at 6:28 PM on December 23, 2009 [4 favorites]

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