When we were out picking in the raspberry fields last week, our shout-outs to one another included what to make with all of the berries. From the youngest to the eldest among us, there were some darn good ideas: meringues with raspberries and whipped cream, raspberry cobbler, raspberry pie, raspberry swirl breakfast rolls, raspberry jam, raspberry sauce, raspberry champagne cocktail, raspberry pancakes.
But the best of them came from one of the children, remembering that our target on our daily walks downtown to Howse’s fudge shop was actually not the fudge, but the chocolate covered raspberries. Even the kids know there are few things that belong together better than chocolate and raspberry.
Howse’s charges a pretty penny for their chocolate raspberries—each candy has three razzles enrobed in dark chocolate, then topped with another perfect razzle. They’re so addictive that you’ll shell out the $3 a pop without too much of a thought. So when across the rows of raspberries I heard a little voice shout “chocolate covered” in the litany of ideas, I screamed halleluiah and almost started singing my rendition of the Ave Maria, usually reserved for weddings and funerals only. Give that child a prize! God knows what the people in the rows next to us thought of all our crazy. Probably though they just wanted to listen intently to the raspberry-recipe-talk so they could go home and do the same. I think I saw one lady taking covert notes.
Candy-making, chocolates in particular, is in our roots in my family. I will be telling a good tale of why that is when we get into our posts on chocolate (trust me, they’re a-comin’). I will say now, though, that my grandfather, Richard Abowd, was a confectioner. A confectioner! He owned a confectionary and it said so on his shop window. I have an amazing photo of him in front of his shop that I will show you one day in the not-too-distant-future, I promise. Is the shop still going? Hardly. There’s some sordid business about a ne’er do well brother who my grandfather was forced to give the thriving candy store to, and who promptly ran it into the ground.
Grandpa Abowd (just as my mom doesn’t go by Sitto, her father didn’t go by Jiddo. Go figure.) kept on making candy, dipping chocolates for his children all the time, and in turn my mom has been dipping chocolates for us forever. My grandfather never forgot or forgave the situation of the candy shop with his brother, among other offenses of a similar ilk. It’s tough stuff, the family dramas, but it’s the stuff great stories are made of. Stories I was born to write. Stories that require…readers. So please stay tuned.
Pulling out big hunks of chocolate (which we always have on hand), chopping them up and tempering them (you can do this, don’t worry) then spooning the chocolate smoothness over our berries, Howse’s style—it all was a natural here on Main Street last week when the berries came home from the U-Pick farm. The children got right into it, and once Grammy demonstrated proper chocolate enrobing technique using her teaspoon, they went at it and made rustic, artful, beautiful candy (and didn’t even eat it all up as they worked).
What dazzle in a chocolate! Really, I can’t help but brag it up because it’s so good that I want you to try it and share in the razzle-love. We took the chocolates to a barbeque, where the children-galore gobbled them up in the blink of an eye. We joked that we could have brought mini-Hershey bars for the same effect, but no, I don’t think so. The kids understand as well as we do that there is a hierarchy of goodness in what we eat, and that a raspberry u pick in the fields of northern Michigan, then cover in chocolate at the hand of your grandmother while learning that her father did this too, makes for a flavor that we’ll never forget.
Choose high quality chocolate—I prefer Callebaut and SharffenBerger, but also have used a terrific big organic bar from Trader Joe’s—and avoid regular chocolate chips; they don’t melt well. Use berries that are very fresh and dry. Eat the candies within a day of making them, and store in a cool, dry place. Tempering the chocolate allows it to cool glossy and hard. If you’d rather not temper the chocolate, you can just melt it and proceed, but then you must keep the candies in the refrigerator until just before serving (otherwise the chocolate won’t harden); just note that the untempered chocolate will be rather soft, fudgy, and may have a bit of a white bloom. Still tastes good though. Or, dip the raspberries in the melted chocolate and eat as a fondue.
1 pound chocolate (dark, semisweet, or milk, but not chips for cookies)
2-3 pints raspberries (about 140 berries)
Line two sheet pans with waxed paper. Place berried in rows in sets of two berries, to be covered with chocolate. Set aside a bowl of berries for placing on top of each chocolate later.
Heat an inch or so of water in the bottom of a double boiler. Make a double boiler by fitting a metal pan over a sauce pan, being certain that the water in the sauce pan below does not touch the bowl.
To temper the chocolate, it will be slowly heated, then cooled, then slightly heated back up again. Finely chop the chocolate. Place 2/3 of the chocolate in the top of the double boiler over low heat. The water should be barely simmering. Clip a candy thermometer to the bowl. Melt the chocolate very slowly, stirring occasionally with a heat-proof spatula, until it reaches 110 degrees.
Remove the bowl from the double boiler to begin to cool the chocolate. Add a handful of the remaining chopped chocolate to the melted chocolate to “seed” the chocolate and assist in cooling it down (and realign the melted chocolate molecules). Keep adding the chopped chocolate and stirring with the spatula until it reached 84 degrees. This can take 20-30 minutes.
Place the bowl back on the double boiler and heat over low heat until the chocolate warms back up to 89 degrees. Remove the bowl from the double boiler.
Using a teaspoon, spoon the chocolate over each set of two berries. Don’t worry if the chocolate doesn’t cover the berries completely. Then place another berry on top of the chocolate-covered two berries.
Place the sheet pans in a cool, dry spot to set up and harden. This makes about 45 candies. Eat within one day, which won’t be difficult.
Find a PDF of this recipe here.