Safety advisory: Lego and train not edible.
The post below is a continuation from the post a couple of months ago about the "shiny science of chocolate."
When dipping truffles, you can easily tell if your chocoloate is in temper or not by how quickly it sets. In this picture below, the truffle on the left was dipped in chocolate that was simply melted to 108˚ rather than tempered. It is still wet, even though it was dipped quite a bit earlier than the truffle on the right, which was dipped in (almost!) tempered chocolate. Notice, however, that there are a few faint streaks in the truffle on the right. This is because I jumped the gun on the dipping, and the chocolate wasn't completely in temper yet. Not enough cocoa butter crystals had formed to be completely stable and consistent yet--I believe this is why you can see those very faint swirls.
Thanks to the new and fabuloso tempering machine, the chocolate did reach perfect temper a few minutes later, and I managed to make some streak-free chocolates.
However! There are so many other tiny details that affect the outcome of a truffle. For example, even when in temper, chocolate can vary in viscosity with each 10th of a degree. This affects how thick of a crunchy coat the truffle will have. It's something to think about: Do you want an eggshell-thin coating around your soft ganache, or something more substantial? This subtle variation is just one factor to consider. Others include the texture of the surface--smooth, or swirly ridges? Perfectly smooth looks elegant, although there is no room for error. If you choose imperfect ridges, you get some textural interest, plus it's a bit more forgiving. Also, the sheen can be affected by how you dip the truffle. If you use a dipping tool, you have the option to make your chocolate very shiny because nothing comes into contact with the surface. However, it takes longer to use a tool than your fingers. If you do use only your hands, then contact with your fingers gives the chocolate a pearly matte glow, which also looks very pretty, and you can dip much more quickly this way.
Yep, I'm probably going to try the infinite variations. If I run out of truffles to practice with, I may move on to rubber duckies.