Renee Comet / USA Weekend
• Piping bag or plastic zip-top bag
• Tape (optional)
• Large (13" x 18") rimmed baking sheet, lined with parchment or wax paper
• 1 cup (6.5 ounces/180 g) chopped dark chocolate
• 2 tablespoons nonpareil sprinkles
Temper the chocolate according to the instructions at the bottom of the page.
Place the piping bag in a 2-cup measuring cup or coffee mug, and fold the top edge down over the rim of the cup. Pour the tempered chocolate into the piping bag, twist the top, and secure it with a piece of tape.
Cut off the tip of the bag, about ¼ inch from the end, and pipe 1-inch disks onto the prepared baking sheet. Sprinkle the nonpareil sprinkles evenly over the tops of the disks, and allow the disks to set completely, about 15 minutes.
Store the nonpareils in an airtight container at cool room temperature for up to 6 months.
Rubber or heatproof spatula
Tempering thermometer (recommended but optional)
1 cup (6.5 ounces/180 g) chopped high-quality chocolate, such as Ghirardelli, Callebaut, or Valrhona
Fill a large (6-quart) saucepan with water to a depth of about 1 inch. Bring it to a boil, uncovered, over high heat. Meanwhile, if using a block of chocolate, chop it with a serrated knife.
Once the water has come to a boil, turn off the heat and set a medium-size heatproof bowl on top. Add about two-thirds of the chopped chocolate and allow it to sit for 5 to 10 minutes, stirring only occasionally with a heatproof spatula (you want to make sure the chocolate on the bottom of the bowl doesn’t get too hot, but if you stir the whole time, the heat will disperse too much and the chocolate won’t melt all the way).
Once all the pieces have melted completely, insert the tempering thermometer and check the temperature; for dark chocolate you want it to be around 108°F/42°C; milk, 106°F/41°C; white, 104°F/40°C. If you go a little bit over these temperatures, that’s fine; too much under, though, and you won’t melt all the “bad” crystals in the cocoa butter (for more science talk, see page 23). No thermometer? No problem. Dab a bit of the chocolate on your lip instead. At the melted stage, the chocolate should feel distinctly warm—not just lukewarm.
Once your chocolate has reached the desired temperature, CAREFULLY lift the bowl off the pot, and place it on top of a folded dish towel. You’ll want to wipe the moisture off the bottom and side of the bowl; this will lessen the risk of accidentally getting some in the chocolate, which is not okay. (Water will cause the chocolate to “seize,” or get lumpy and unworkable, and you’ll have to make it into—quelle horreur!—chocolate sauce instead.)
Now add some of the reserved chocolate, about ¼ cup at a time, stirring constantly until the addition has been incorporated completely and there are no more lumps. You’ll want to stir like your life depends on it here, both to agitate the chocolate (the more it is agitated, the nice-n-shinier it’ll be) and to reduce its temperature. You want to get it down to about 90°F/32°C for dark; 88°F/31°C for milk; 86°F/30°C for white. (Starting to notice a pattern here? More cocoa solids require working at higher heat.) If you’re doing the lip test, you’ll want it to feel distinctly cool. Agitating not only encourages the right crystals to form, it also helps cool the chocolate more rapidly. This will take you about 15 minutes.
Once the chocolate is close to the desired temperature (a degree or two above is fine), test it: Dip a teaspoon in the chocolate, then stick the dipped spoon on a piece of wax paper and allow it to set up for a few minutes. (If your kitchen is warm, you can put it in the fridge for a bit—2 minutes for dark, more like 5 for milk and white.) If the test sets up completely—a little glossy, not tacky to the touch, not streaky or blotchy (see page 30)—then huzzah and kudos to you! You just tempered chocolate.