Hello, fellow chowhounds! I rarely post here, but I figured there would be somebody here with the expertise I need.
Last Saturday evening I had a craving for chocolate-covered ginger. I thought, "well, I have chocolate, I have candied ginger, I have a double boiler, let's see what happens!" I ended up dipping two kinds of candied ginger, some candied orange peal, and a couple of salted mango slices I'd bought a while back at a Vietnamese grocery. The results were good enough that I'm eager to do it again. (Even the mango was edible, though weird.) I preferred the plain candied ginger to the crystallized, but the friends I collared for a taste test were divided pretty evenly between the two.
I discovered that chopsticks with pointy tips are a great tool for manipulating the dipped item. A silicon baking mat laid on a cookie sheet is an excellent surface for setting the chocolates. And the back stoop on a cool Northern California evening is a fine location for leaving the chocolates to set.
But of course I have a few questions.
1. I don't have a candy thermometer. Did I just get lucky, or is the temperature of the chocolate less important than the recipies would have it?
2. If I'm going to dip something with a moist surface (e.g. glaceed fruit) should I dredge it in cornstarch or something first, to avoid seizing the chocolate?
3. Does milk chocolate act very differently than semi-sweet when melted? I'm ordinarily a dark chocolate purist, but I discovered today that Scharffen Berger makes milk chocolate, and I became curious about it.
4. Any bright ideas for what to dip? My husband suggested dried pears, also roasted hazelnuts. I've got some glaceed apricots and some caramels, and more ginger.
I am hoping to come up with something nice for our Valentine's day dinner, but there isn't really a timeline on this -- I have a feeling I'm going to be experimenting for quite a while.
Apologies if this has been discussed before. Thanks for any thoughts on the matter!