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It’s Chocolate Covered Anything Day!

It’s Chocolate Covered Anything Day!
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BY STEVE NUBIE

From simple to complex, chocolate makes everything better.

I love chocolate and December 16th is “Chocolate Covered Everything” day. So let’s get to it and yes, you will have some chocolate all over you when all is done.

I love making these quick and easy treats when the kids and grandkids come over for various holiday celebrations. It’s fun to watch them explore varieties and I love asking them what they think the secret ingredient is in each one.  This is also an easy way to bring a holiday treat to work for those office celebrations, and who doesn’t love chocolate?

We’re going to explore some basics about how to melt chocolate (and it’s a bit trickier than you would suspect), and then get to work.

We’re also going to bypass some of the simple dips that everybody does but give you enough info to do them if you want. This includes chocolate dipped strawberries, pretzels and bananas.  Hey, they’re all great but let’s explore a bit and keep it just as simple.

The fact of the matter is that once you have mastered the simple art of melting chocolate you can cover anything. The list is long and the more you experiment, the more you’ll discover.

Chocolate melting 101

There are a variety of chocolates out there from milk-chocolate to semi-sweet, to dark and darker and darker. And to  complicate matters further there’s white chocolate, almond bark and baker’s chocolate.  For what we’re going to explore today stay away from the baker’s chocolate.  It’s an ingredient used in some recipes that is 100% bitter.  All other chocolates are fair game.

Some chocolates are specifically marketed for cooking, but all chocolate can be used for any cooking occasion. For the record, the melting point for chocolate is between 85 and 90 degrees Fahrenheit.  That’s why it melts in your hand given we’re all running at about 98.6.  This low temperature melting point is important to remember as you “gently” melt chocolate to coat many different and wonderful things.

The double-boiler

If you don’t know what a double-boiler is or don’t have one you’ll need to buy one or create one before you get started.

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A double boiler is essentially a sauce pan on top of a saucepan. In the bottom pan is water that is gently simmering, not boiling.  The pan on top is where you place the chocolate to slowly melt it.

Stir it occasionally and make sure you don’t allow any moisture to get into the melted chocolate.  Even a drop of water can cause the chocolate to seize up or turn grainy.   You can improvise a double boiler with a frying pan on top of a saucepan if you like.

What to cover with your melted chocolate

Just about anything can be covered or drizzled with melted chocolate or dipped in the chocolate but here are some traditional favorites:

  • Strawberries
  • Bananas
  • Popcorn
  • Pretzels
  • Cookies
  • Ice cream
  • Apple slices
  • And the list goes on….

We’re going to try some new variations that are both surprising and make good combination with chocolate. The first is chocolate covered cream cheese cubes.  I lived and worked in Asia for two years studying Asian cuisine, language and culture.  One of the dominant flavor profiles was sweet and sour.  This recipe captures that unique flavor with the combination of a sour flavor note in the cream cheese and sweet milk-chocolate.

Chocolate covered cream cheese cubes

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INGREDIENTS:

2 eight ounce packages of cream cheese

I ten ounce bag of milk chocolate morsels

DIRECTIONS:

Arrange a baking rack over a baking sheet covered with aluminum foil.

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In this example you can see all three of the foundation ingredients on the wire rack that we’ll be covering including the cream cheese, pears and the peanut butter.

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Place the double boiler on the range and bring to a boil and then reduce to a simmer.  Put the cream cheese in the freezer for 20 minutes and then cut into cubes around a half inch to an inch.  Place the cream cheese cubes on the baking rack and then add the morsels to the top of the double boiler.  As the morsels melt, stir them gently with a spoon until melted.  Spoon out some of the melted milk-chocolate and drizzle over the cream cheese cubes.  When you’re done you can put the chocolate covered cream cheese cubes in the fridge to accelerate the hardening of the chocolate.  Once the chocolate has hardened you can serve or stack in a Tupperware container and refrigerate or freeze.

Chocolate covered peanut butter chunks

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Chocolate and peanut butter are a natural flavor combination that many people crave. This recipe is as simple as could be.  It’s just a mound of peanut butter covered with chocolate.  I like them frozen but they’re good refrigerated as well.  For you purists you can just eat them at room temperature.  Here’s the easy steps to making these.

INGREDIENTS:

1 jar of peanut butter

12 ounces of morsels. You can use semi-sweet or milk chocolate.

DIRECTIONS:

Spoon about a teaspoon of peanut butter onto a lightly buttered dish. Keep doing this until you have dollops of peanut butter across the dish.  Put the dish in the freezer for 30 minutes and melt the morsels in your double boiler.  Remove the frozen peanut butter chunks and place then on a wire rack over a foil lined baking sheet.  When the chocolate is melted stir it around with a spoon and drizzle over the frozen peanut butter chunks.  The chocolate should harden fairly quickly and you can serve immediately , refrigerate or freeze for later.

Chocolate covered pears slices

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You can coat, dip or cover just about any fruit in melted chocolate, but my favorite is pears. You can even use pears from a can if you like and that’s what  I did here with pear slices.  For some reason I like dark chocolate on pears but that’s up to you.

INGREDIENTS:

1 can of sliced pears

1 ten ounce bag of dark chocolate morsels

DIRECTIONS:

Arrange the pear slices on the wire rack over a foil covered baking pan. Melt the morsels in the double boiler and then stir with a spoon and drizzle over the pears.  You might want to refrigerate them for about 10 minutes before serving.  You can also store them in the fridge or the freezer.

Don’t stop now!

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Once you’ve mastered the art of simply melting chocolate in a double-boiler and understand the setup with a wire rack over a foil-lined baking pan -you’re good to go. And go to it you should.  Chocolate is fun and it’s all about the holidays.  Here’s hoping you’ll have some fun doing chocolate covered everything.

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Steve Nubie
Steve Nubie has been writing professionally for 38 years. He is a published author with 10 books to his credit, has written for CBS Entertainment for the Twilight Zone series, and has written hundreds of articles for magazines and the Internet. He has served as Chief Creative officer in the marketing and advertising industry, was an Executive career-coach, is a chef and has traveled extensively living in Asia for two years, and London for two years.