You might imagine that chocolate-dipped tangerine segments in mid-January are just a seasonally correct but poor substitute for chocolate-dipped strawberries.
But you’d be underestimating the tangerine! You’d be missing the tiny explosion of sweet tart juice bursting from plump fruit when you bite through crisp chocolate. You’d be missing the surprise and delight of your guests when you serve these. (And, of course, you’d be missing a chocolate-covered dose of vitamin C, potassium, folate, and flavonoids). Give the cold shoulder to oversized, out-of-season berries this winter—and tango with a tangerine instead.
Most chocolatiers and pastry chefs would temper the chocolate before dipping the fruit—because those are the rules of chocolate. Since I made a career out of breaking some of those rules, I decided to review the pros and cons of tempering versus not tempering the chocolate for dipped tangerines, just in case. As it turns out, the easiest method (no tempering) also produces the best results.
Tempered chocolate sets up with a crisp texture and a nice sheen and can sit out at room temperature and retain that crispness and sheen. This is always best for confections (but not necessarily tangerines) that should be consumed at room temperature and/or that need to be kept at room temperature for days or weeks.
Un-tempered chocolate must be refrigerated to become crisp and to prevent the surface from blooming (turning grey and streaky). Un-tempered chocolate also has a lower melting point—once it’s on your tongue or in your mouth, it melts and releases flavor faster than tempered chocolate. That latter is a big plus sometimes, even and especially when you have to or want to keep your treats in the fridge.
I dipped tangerine segments in both tempered and un-tempered chocolate, and tasted them both over a few days. Even without taking into consideration that most people don’t already know how to temper chocolate (and that learning requires practice), I preferred the fruit dipped in un-tempered chocolate. The big burst of cold juice and flavor inside the crisp but quick-melting chocolate was the more dramatic eating experience.
Just one last thing: There are rules for breaking rules successfully! The chocolate should be much warmer than tempered chocolate would be, and the fruit should be cold before it is dipped and then returned to the fridge as soon as possible afterwards. All of the details are in the recipe. Don’t miss these.
- 4-5 seedless, easy-to-peel tangerines (such as Satsuma or other with loose wrinkly skins)
- 8 ounces (225 grams) dark, milk, or white chocolate from bars, wafers, callets, or pistoles, but no chocolate chips
- 1 plastic fork for dipping
Are you a fan of chocolate-dipped fruit? Share your favorite flavor combinations with us below!