As good as the combination of chocolate and nuts is, new confectioners bakers always wonder how chocolate-covered almonds are so smooth.
Commercially produced chocolate-covered almonds go through expensive machinery to come out smooth and glossy. However, not everyone can afford to own these machines. Home chefs often struggle to give their almonds the perfect chocolate coating due to the lack of equipment.
The process of covering almonds with chocolate is known as hand panning. This method is typically used by commercial confectioners who use large drums resembling cement mixers to keep rotating the almonds while sprayed with chocolate. Hence, the coating is even and smooth and has no shape deformities.
While commercial producers get away with their top-grade machinery and a monitored process, home chefs wonder how they can treat their consumers, friends, and family with excellent chocolate-covered almonds. By tempering the chocolate the right way, you can ensure your almonds are beautifully coated in a layer of delicious chocolate.
We are a bunch of confectioners who stood at your place a couple of years ago. However, with different experiments and guidance from fellow professionals, we got the secret of the perfect chocolate-covered almonds, which we disclose to you in this article.
What is the Process of Chocolate Panning?
Chocolate panning is the process of coating chocolate on a central object by evenly layering it all over the thing, dusting it, and then polishing it to give the product a glossy finish. Panning is not only limited to chocolate. This process can be used for coating peanut butter, yogurt, sucralose, maple syrup, etc., to any item, including peanuts, cashew nuts, candies, etc.
Steps of Chocolate Panning
Chocolate panning is a relatively simple three-step process but requires expertise and experience to forge the best results. However, this method is only used by commercial producers as it requires a chocolate panning machine that closely resembles a cement mixer but is only smaller. The primary purpose is to keep the almonds spinning, so chocolate is covered equally and dried well enough.
The following are steps of chocolate panning.
This describes the process of coating the almonds with chocolate or with any other item. However, the item must be liquid to cover the almonds and take their shape. Therefore, tempered chocolate is sprayed over the almonds while spinning in the panning machine. You can also pour the chocolate with a spoon if you don’t have a chocolate siphon.
The panning machine rotates 360 degrees which keeps the almonds flipping, so there is little to no chance of any almond missing the coat.
Engrossing leaves the product covered in chocolate, but it has a matt finish, which is not widely appealing. Therefore, the almonds are then coated with an Arabic gum or shellac to add shine. Before polishing, the almonds are taken out of the panning machine to let the chocolate dry. Before putting them in for polishing, the tempered chocolate is cleaned from the machine.
Glazing is the finishing part of chocolate panning. Although the chocolate is polished in the previous step, glazing is done to give it a hard shell and a different shining coat, usually with corn-starch syrup.
Is There a Specific Process for Different Types of Chocolate?
Panning can be done with any kind of chocolate. However, the process differs to some extent for each type as they contain various ingredients with different amounts. One aspect that changes with the kind of chocolate is the temperature. Different amounts of milk, cocoa, and sugar need to be panned to varying temperatures, so it does not solidify or liquify in an unwanted manner. Other factors that change with the kind of chocolate are speed, humidity, cooling time, etc.
Tempering Chocolate at Home - The Microwave Method
But what can you do if you do not have commercial-grade equipment and machinery? Should you give up on making chocolaty and crunchy almonds? Absolutely not! As mentioned earlier. You can make your desired treat by tempering your chocolate the right way. Well-tempered chocolate has a smooth finish, dries quickly, and breaks with a snap. You won’t notice chocolate shavings falling off as you bite into the almond.
When tempering the chocolate, it is vital to use real chocolate. These are the ones that have cocoa butter in them. The cocoa butter helps maintain the smoothness and tempting seamlessness of the chocolate. On the other hand, chocolates with artificial fats like vegetable oil are just poor for your chocolate-covered almonds.
Tempering the chocolate requires you to agitate the melted chocolate to 95 degrees before using it to coat the almonds or give it any shape you want. But how can you control the temperature using a microwave?
Using a microwave is one of the most popular methods to temper chocolate. It involves a few more steps than other methods, but it is super easy and fun.
Whether using chocolate nibs or a bar, make sure that the chocolate is grated or shredded finely, so it melts easily.
Before starting the process, you should remember that the chocolate temperature should remain below 95 degrees throughout. If it rises above 95 degrees, the temper will be ruined, and the final product won’t come as you hoped. An easy way of doing that is to use a built-in thermometer spatula so you can keep an eye on the temperature when mixing.
Start by heating the chocolate for 30 seconds in a silicon bowl. Stir it until it stops melting. Heat again for 30 seconds and stir again. Repeat the process for 15 seconds and then for 10 seconds again. Stop reheating the chocolate the second you feel it is completely melted and well-mixed. Your chocolate has been tempered, and now all you need to do is dip the almonds in the chocolate.
Give your almonds a good swirl in the bowl, so they are properly covered. Take them out with a strainer and shake them subtly, so the excess chocolate is shed. Finally, lay the almonds on a wax paper, refrigerate for 20-30 minutes, and Voila!
About THE AUTHOR
Karen Sladyk has been studying and teaching cake decorating topics and culinary crafting projects for over 30 years. She has multiple awards-including first place finishes-in a variety of shows and conferences. She has made and or sold hundreds of dessert-themed gifts, masterpieces, and crafts. She enjoys the challenge of problem-solving chocolate issues in show pieces and making chocolate accessible to all people.Read more about Karen Sladyk