Tuesday, July 23, 2013
My Kids and I are having a blast so far this summer. They are currently taking swimming classes together. Besides swimming classes, we visit the library, theme parks, the regular parks, and family/friends gatherings quite often. It’s always nice to have the Kids around the house when they are off from school. During the Summer, I tend to make simple recipes and treats that my Kids can help out. Actually, many treats are inspired by them. Such as these Chocolate Dipped Frozen Fruit Bites.
Whenever we visit the theme park, my Son would ask for a frozen treat, such as the frozen banana because I made these treats all the time (see previous post here). But, it’s way easier for the Kids to eat them (without making a mess) when the frozen bananas are in bite size, instead of the whole banana. Plus, they are a lot more adorable in bite size too, aren't they? Besides banana bites, I also made chocolate dipped frozen raspberries quite often. The key (and quick tip) to make these frozen bites is to pick ripened bananas, cut them into bite size pieces, then, insert the tooth picks while they are still in room temperature. I place the tooth pick ready banana bites in freezer safe containers, cover with lid, and freeze for at least 2 hours before dipping them in melted chocolate. Same with the raspberries. In my opinion, they are the perfect healthy summer treats.
After dipping the frozen banana bites in the melted chocolate, you can dip them in a small bowl of chopped nuts such as peanuts, pistachios, pecans, or hazelnuts. Or, as my Son would preferred, leave them plain. They are equally good. My Kids love helping out with the dipping process because they can dip as much as they want. Not to mention, they get to “clean out” the bowl of the melted chocolate when the dipping process is done. I guess that’s part of the enjoyment, besides eating the treats.
Of course, you can melt your chocolate in the microwave, as mentioned in this recipe. But, tempering chocolate is just as easy. I included a step by step pictorial with tips to show you how. Perfectly tempered chocolate gives you the crunch and shines that will highlight the entire chocolate experience. Here’s how (this is also known as “the seeding” method):
1) Heat about an inch of water in a medium saucepan until simmer. (See bubbles rising on the sides of the water). Make sure to lower the heat so the water remains simmer and not a rapid boil. Otherwise, the chocolate might burn easily.
2) Make sure the chocolate is finely chopped. When each chocolate piece are roughly the same size, it will melt more evenly.
3) Place about 3/4 of the chocolate in a heatproof bowl set over the saucepan of simmering water. Make sure the bottom of the bowl does not touch the water. Place a candy thermometer into the chocolate if you have one. Stir with a spatula or a spoon to encourage even melting. It is very important that you do not let the temperature of the chocolate to exceed 120 degrees F. Around 115 degree F would be perfect.
4. When all the chocolate has melted, remove the bowl from heat. Wipe the bottom of the bowl to remove condensation because if any water gets into the chocolate, it could seize up into a chunky mess. And don’t ask me how I know that. So, making sure all equipment is dry is very important in tempering chocolate.
5. Stir in the remaining 1/4 (“the seed”) of the chocolate until all melted. The chocolate will start thickening as the “un-melted” chocolate will lower the overall temperature. When the chocolate has dropped to 82 degree F, place the bowl back to the saucepan of simmering water. Stir constantly, and reheat the chocolate back to 88 degree F. Do not let the chocolate gets over 91 degree F or the chocolate will be out of temper and you'll have to start over again.
6. See how nice and shinny the melted chocolate is? To test if your chocolate is tempered, spread a small amount of melted chocolate on a piece of parchment. It should remains shiny when it’s dried with no streaks. Now, you have perfectly tempered chocolate.
Note: I love the seeding method because by introducing a "seed", the un-melted 1/4 of the chocolate, that is still in temper, will encourage the rest of the melted chocolate to reform its melted cocoa butter crystals, in a tempered state. When using 'a seed,' your chances of having a bowl of perfectly tempered chocolate is higher because you don’t have to wait for the proper crystals to form on their own in the melted chocolate.
I hope you’re inspired to temper your chocolate at home and start dipping! Or use your melted chocolate in candy molds and other fun chocolate projects. For the Chocolate Dipped Frozen Fruit Bites, you can use any fruit that you like. For example, blueberries, strawberries, sliced peaches, orange peels, & etc. would be just as wonderful. I love the banana ones as they are creamy inside and the chocolate crust is crunchy on the outside. The raspberry ones are sweet and tart inside, perfectly balanced with the bitter-sweet dark chocolate crust. So, start creating and let your taste buds and imagination take you to a whole new delectable level.
Chocolate Dipped Frozen Fruit Bites: (Printable Recipe)
2 Ripen bananas, cut into bite size
1/2 cup fresh raspberries (you can also use another other berries or fruit pieces)
8 ounces dark chocolate, melted
1/2 cup nuts, finely chopped (if using)
Insert a tooth pick into each piece of fruit. Place them in freezer safe containers, covered and freeze for at least 2 hours, or preferably overnight.
Holding the tooth pick, dip frozen fruit into the melted chocolate and dripped off excess. Then, roll around chopped nuts (if using) and place it back inside the container. The chocolate should harden instantly. Repeat with the rest of the fruit bites. Enjoy immediately or keep frozen until ready to serve.