The weather finally turned chilly a couple of days ago, and that always turns me toward the kitchen. Daphne and I decided to indulge in a project we’ve discussed before but never done before: chocolate-covered everything. We picked three things each. Daphne picked beef jerky, marshmallows, and Bugles (which I forgot to buy). I picked bacon-flavored popcorn, sharp cheddar cheese, and Chee-tos.

We said we'd cover with chocolate whatever we found in the pantry... But choco-dipped Izzy is where I draw the line.

I forgot a couple of things and found a couple of others; then I pulled some things from the pantry. We ended up with this:

...and the bacon popcorn.

TEMPERANCE MOVEMENT: In order to temper chocolate, you’re supposed to melt it, bring it back up to the 80ish-degree neighborhood, then heat it up again. Doing this causes the chocolate to set glossy. If you don’t do that, it will stil be yummy, but it won’t have a bright sheen. This is only necessary if it is extremely important to you for your chocolate to look professionally-produced. It takes longer, and my point is to get the stuff made and into my mouth. I have a little trick that I use to make the chocolate shinier, and it also makes it easier to work: I add some shortening to the melted chocolate. For this project, I had a big bag of chips and used about 2 tablespoons.

Everything is ready to go!

Cheese, gnocchi, and beef jerky

Dipping marshmallows

Plantain chips and uncooked ramen noodles

Bacon popcorn takes a chocolate bath (is anyone else turned on?)

Bacon popcorn, kiwi, Chee-tos

One of everything!

Daphne and I had different ideas about which was best, but we agreed on on thing: while the beef jerky and the dried pineapple pieces both tasted fine with chocolate, their textures were not compatible. By the time we’d fully masticated either item, the chocolate had melted off and gone away.

The kiwi’s flavor was not strong enough to hold up to the semi-sweet chocolate (milk chocolate might have worked). I knew it would be a challenge to get the chocolate to stick, as a student in a chocolate class I’d taught tried to fix us chocolate-covered kiwi slices, and the moisture in the fruit made the chocolate slide off. To prepare, I cubed the fruit and let it sit out for an hour. A lot of moisture had wicked out of it at that point, and then I left the cubes buried in chocolate for a while. Still, you’ll notice that the tops aren’t covered. I wasn’t really picky about it. I figured if any chocolate adhered, that was a win. But the fragility of the fruit is not a good match for even room-temperature chocolate.

Of course the marshmallow tasted good, but trying to dip and cover a mini-marshmallow in hot, melted chocolate is not easy. The marshmallow wants to melt! Some of it did, and cracked the chocolate “shell.” But it tastes wonderful, at any rate.

Daphne favorite was the Chee-tos. Actually, I’d gotten a store brand, and they were more like Chee-tos Puffs. I want to try this with the actual Chee-tos, which are a lot more dense and crunchy. I found them edible, but not memorable.

Daphne HATED the gnocchi. I did not cook them; I thought that the mealy potato texture would be interesting. It is. But it might not necessarily be good.

The plantain chips were very good. They tasted a lot like potato chips, but they are so thick and dense that they were able to hold a pretty thick coating of chocolate, where normal potato chips would have broken.

We agreed that the bacon popcorn was something special. I’ve had chocolate-covered popcorn before, but something about the smokiness of the bacon took this to a whole other level. It was almost like the potential that the beef jerky had, but couldn’t achieve because of chewiness. There was just enough meat flavor in the popcorn to make us smile while we were eating it.

My favorite, flavor-wise, was the sharp Cheddar cheese. Daphne was not a fan; she did not think they complimented each other. I thought that they did. Interestingly, once they were both at room temperature, they had a similar consistency. The chocolate gave with the cheese (instead of breaking off like it did with the kiwi, or melting off and down the throat like it did with the beef jerky), and the taste was unique and pleasing to my palate.

My “best of show” favorite? The uncooked Ramen noodles. The design of the noodles meant that lots of chocolate got trapped in between the curves and bumps. The mild flavor of the noodles interfered with the chocolate almost none at all, but the crunch in the middle of the creamy chocolate made it so much fun to eat!

This was a super cool experiment. Any suggestions for what else we should dunk in a vat of molten chocolate and cram into our gullets?

The Ramen chunk = heaven! And look at that beautiful cheese! I LOVE cheeeese.

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