Stacey's Dark Chocolate Almond Hearts Ingredients:
24 oz Guittard 64% dark chocolate couverture
11 oz local farmers' market almonds, toasted and chopped
I think this recipe has a few too many almonds - I'd probably scale it back to something like 8 oz for next time. Usually I eyeball it, but I wanted weights for my blog. I toasted the almonds first for 15 minutes at 350F since the almonds came straight out of the freezer. Make sure your almonds are around 90F when you add them to your tempered chocolate.
Tempering Chocolate (Seed Method)
The counter tops were at 62F. This is important. If you are tempering chocolate, make sure that the ambient temperature (as well as working surfaces) are less than 70F. Otherwise chocolate will not temper. I learned this the hard way the first summer I worked with chocolate.
If you are using molds, also make sure you use a soft cloth to polish them (usually I do this right after washing so it's still damp) to remove water spots. This will help the resulting chocolates be as shiny as possible. Avoid using anything rough that can scratch them.
Other tips? I keep my molds and spoons in the microwave until I'm ready to use them (I do NOT turn the microwave on). The microwave is warm, and that way the molds and spoons don't make the chocolate set as soon as it touches them.
I use the seeding method and a microwave to temper my chocolate. I put my couverture in a pyrex bowl and microwave at 30 second intervals until it's about 100F, using my trusty KINTREX IRT0421 Non-Contact Infrared Thermometer with Laser Targeting. Then I add my seeding chocolate and stir until it reaches 90F, removing whatever hasn't melted from the seed chocolate afterward.
Then I threw in the 90F chopped almonds.
This is a mold with 1/2 oz hearts so I use teaspoons to fill them. After filling each cavity, or every other cavity, I jiggled the mold on the counter-top fairly vigorously (it makes quite a racket). This releases the air bubbles in the bottom of the mold, and flattens what will be the bottom of the chocolates.
After waiting a few hours for the chocolate to set (I actually waited overnight for this batch, which is usually best because I can be sure it will break free easily), I was ready to break them out.
I use a baking sheet lined with a layer of plastic wrap and turn the mold upside down and bang it on the sheet. These are tough poly-carbonate molds, so they can take some beating. There seem to be some from Amazon (Paderno World Cuisine Polycarbonate Chocolate Mold, Rounded Heart) but I think I got mine from Tomric.com.
So I turned the mold over, rapped it against the sheet, and picked up the chocolate as it fell out.
If you don't pick up the chocolates as they fall out, it's really easy to accidentally hit them with the mold and dent them. I know... I've done it, sadly.
Tah-dah, heart shaped chocolates!