The recipe is easy.
4 ounces couverture, melted and tempered.
4 ounces roasted coffee beans.
Add beans to couverture, stir till completely mixed. Spoon out individually onto cooling slab to let harden. When cooled, store in cool dry container (just like any other chocolate covered whatever candy).
The devil, and the fun, is in the details.
To my taste, chocolate covered coffee beans come very close to being food of the gods. It becomes worth doing it RIGHT. (Oh – the fact it’ll give you a caffeine buzz that puts energy drinks in the pale is secondary.)
Doing it right starts with that funny ingredient couverture. Couverture is chocolate (and a Rolls Royce is a car.) It’s chocolate liquor to which additional cocoa butter has been added, after which sugar (and optionally milk) has been added. Backing up a step, cocoa liquor is what you get when you grind down cocoa beans. It must be at least 54% cocoa solids, and of that the butter must be 32-39%. Note that’s not 32-39% of the whole but of the solids.
Rich. Oh, dear… rich. THIS is good chocolate. You’re going to have to look around to find it, and don’t be shocked if you see it at US$20 or more per pound.
Coffee beans. I’ve discussed beans before, but in this case you don’t have to roast them yourself. However, do yourself a favor and find the right bean for you. Again, the darker the roast the more, well, dark the flavor AND the less caffeine. If you prefer milk chocolate look for light roasts. If dark, go for the stuff that borders being burned. However, there’s nothing wrong with counter-mixing these with a light bean in dark chocolate (and vice versa).
Tempering chocolate. Most of you have probably melted a chocolate bar, and then when it solidified saw it was no longer crisp and shiny. Instead it was kind of soft and dull, melting and rubbing off on everything. Tempering is what gives it the crisp, shiny, and (apparently) slightly more resistant to melting effect. It’s a major pain to get right, but when you do it’s why YOUR candy is popular.
Before I get into it, note that there is a shortcut used even by some pros – use adulterated chocolate. The most common is to include paraffin. Yep, wax. We’re not going there. This food of the gods needs done right, or not at all. So, how to temper.
I like the seed method so that’s all you’re getting. You are going to need your melting container and either a double boiler or a microwave. The problem with the microwave is that you could burn it. The problem of the double boiler is that you could get a little steam drifting in and so have the chocolate seize (and though you can do things about that, you can never temper it again.) The answer to both is careful watching, and a GOOD instant read thermometer.
Break up and reserve 1/4 of the chocolate – not to exceed 2 ounces if you’re making larger batches. Heat the rest till it exceeds 105F. Remove from the main heat and stir in the reserved chocolate. Keep stirring till the temperature drops to tempered range. For dark chocolate that’s ~90F (32C), for milk it’s 88F (31C), and if you’re using white chocolate it’s 82F (28C). (For my taste, white doesn’t work here. But I’m giving the temp anyway.) You now have about 2 degrees F (1C) of working range, and have two options. First, work fast. Second, careful application of heat to hold at that temperature till you’re ready to work.
My personal method is to use a hot pad and work… not quite so fast, but fast enough. Now the average hotpad is too hot. But if I put a towel over it and leave it on for 5 to 10 minutes, the towel will be not quite as hot, and will insulate the chocolate. I can move my bowl of chocolate to the towel that’s on the pad. I can’t leave it there for more than 10 minutes or it’ll break the temper, but I CAN work without having to race.
So I’ve got the bowl on the pad. I add my coffee beans (which were room temperature) and stir. This would notionally cool my chocolate and start hardening it, which is why I like the pad keeping my heat. Still, I’m on a clock.
Once they’re thoroughly mixed, I want to spoon out individual beans (covered, of course) and drop them on a cooling block. Pros usually use marble slabs. I put silicone sheets over my ceramic countertop. I used to use wax paper, and it’ll work too.
Now picking out the individual beans with a spoon takes time – enough time that the mass in the bowl may solidify (or too much heat may come from the hot pad, etc). That’s why I only make 8 ounces at a time – 4 each of chocolate and beans. I can beat the clock easily. Besides, that’s still a LOT of beans.
They’ll harden and be all shiny sometime between half and a whole hour – feel free to speed it up with some time in a freezer if you wish. Then just keep them where ever you’d keep chocolates.
A piece of advice when eating these – don’t eat a lot. As I said at the beginning they WILL give you a lot of caffeine.
Obviously the technique will work for chocolate covered, well, anything. Use couverture for the stuff you want RICH, and lesser chocolate when that isn’t as important. That said, I’ll mention something I make once in a very rare occasion: chocolate covered macerated dried fruit.
Chocolate covered is obvious. Dried fruit is raisins or dried blueberries or cherries or, well, you get the idea. Macerating is soaking in alcohol. Dried cherries soaked in a fruit brandy and then covered in chocolate is one example that is absolutely shocking to a lot of people. As another example, I once provided a “finish” to a wine and cheese party by using raisins soaked in wine – both from the same type of grape. (Merlot grapes as it happens.)
But it’s still the coffee beans that top my list.