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Tips and tricks for working with chocolate

Tips and tricks for working with chocolate

If your view on chocolate is that civilised life depends on it, or that a balanced diet requires at least one portion of chocolate per day, rest assured, you’re in the right place.

According to the Smithsonian, the origins of chocolate date back more than 2000 years, and the Latin name of the cocoa tree is Theobroma Cacao, which directly translates as “food of the gods”. Although the first records of chocolate describe a harshly bitter drink made from the beans and husks of the cocoa tree, modern chocolate is defined as a paste or solid food made from roasted cocoa and sweetened with sugar. 

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The taste and mouthfeel of chocolate mostly stem from its cocoa vs. sugar ratio, which is why cocoa-rich dark chocolate has a bitter and slightly waxen taste compared to creamier and sweeter milk chocolate. White chocolate, on the other hand, contains no cocoa powder and effectively consists of cocoa butter, milk solids, and sugar. Although white chocolate was originally developed as a high contrast element to put on conventional brown chocolate simply for decorative value, its unique creamy sweetness and ability to blend with colourants and flavourings introduced a new world of possibilities for confectioners.

Follow these simple steps to make your own festive chocolate Easter treats decorated with colourful chocolate graffiti.

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White Chocolate Graffiti Surprise Easter Eggs

What you’ll need:

To prepare:

Melt half a cup of white chocolate disks in the microwave on medium heat, giving it a stir every 20 seconds to prevent hot spots.

Note: Microwave melting is only good for small amounts of chocolate at a time. When doing more than 150g of chocolate, melting in a glass bowl suspended over a pot of hot water gives far better results.

Once melted, add a few drops of colour gel while the chocolate is still warm and stir until the colour has evenly spread through the chocolate. If you prefer a more vivid colour, add more gel and stir some more.

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Wipe your mould with a dry cloth to ensure it is completely clean and dry. Dip a fork in the coloured chocolate and give it a few shakes over your mould to create fine streaks. You can change direction to create a criss-cross effect or tap the fork against your hand for a speckled look. Add as many layers and colours as you like, allowing each layer to set in the fridge for about 5 minutes while you melt and prepare your next colour.

cabfoods-colourful-grafitti-easter-eggs

When you are happy with the look of you graffiti, use a silicone brush to paint a thick layer of plain white chocolate on the inside of your mould, and allow it to set in the fridge for about 10 minutes. You can also use dark chocolate for this step to create a more dramatic look.

cabfoods-painting-grafitti-easter-eggs

Once the layer has set you can “hide” a few speckled eggs inside your Easter eggs and fill them up completely with plain white chocolate. Allow your eggs to set in the fridge for about an hour before removing them from the mould and trimming edges neatly with a sharp knife.

Note: You can substitute the speckled eggs with nuts, dried fruits, marshmallows or an alternative candy as your surprise. Even a dollop of peanut butter, Marshmallow Fluff or caramel spread creates a great filling.

cabfoods-filling-grafitti-easter-eggs

Alternatively, if you want to make hollow eggs, simply paint two more layers of chocolate inside each mould before removing and trimming any stray chocolate form the edges with a sharp knife. To assemble, heat a dinner plate in hot water and dry thoroughly. Press the edges of your eggs on the warm plate to melt them slightly before pressing the sides together to seal. Adding a tiny dab of melted chocolate to the seam and then wiping it with your finger will help to even out any small holes in your seal.

Essential chocolate savvy

Needless to say, all chocolate is basically a synonym for enjoyment, and everyone should indulge in a chocolate treat as often as possible, but bakers are often nervous about using chocolate at home as it does have a reputation for being temperamental. Not to worry, these simple guidelines will have you whipping up a chocolatey storm in no time.

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Dust surfaces and pans with cocoa

When working with a chocolate batter or dough, cocoa is your ideal non-stick solution. Use it to dust surfaces and pans to make them non-stick whilst enhancing the taste of your chocolate bakes. Rolling truffles in a plate of cocoa also creates a decadent matt finish and luxurious taste.

Avoid contact with water

Even a single drop of water on a spoon or surface can cause melted chocolate to seize (clump up). You can prevent this by wiping all utensils, bowls, and surfaces with a clean dry cloth before getting started.

Use the right kind of chocolate for your recipe

There are many variations of chocolate available, each suited to a specific purpose. Chocolate chips, for example, are made with a higher percentage of soy lecithin which increases their melting temperature. This makes them perfect for creating little suspended pockets of chocolate flavour inside cookies, tarts or pancakes. If, however, you are looking for a chocolate that will drizzle well or blend into your batter, the lower melting point and creaminess of chocolate discs, pieces or are a slab cut into even-sized chunks are ideal.

Avoid rapid changes in temperature

Melting chocolate on direct heat will almost certainly cause it to burn and seize to the point of becoming inedible. For best results melt chocolate cut into even size pieces gradually over hot water and keep it at a constant temperature until you are ready to let it set (harden) into its final shape. Harsh fluctuation in temperature, like continuously hardening and melting your chocolate, or sticking it in the fridge while it is still warm, can not only cause it to seize but also seriously diminish its naturally glossy finish with sugar bloom. The best chocolatiers believe even stirring with a metal spoon is too much of a temperature shock and strictly swear by using wooden or silicone utensils for stirring chocolate.

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Although blooming is an undesired effect in chocolate, it is often mistaken as a sign that the chocolate has gone stale. This dusty, discoloured appearance is simply caused by moisture on the surface of the chocolate due to condensation, improper setting due to unnecessarily low temperatures, or unsuitably cold storage. Simply melting the chocolate and letting it harden properly should restore its even coloured surface.

For more advanced chocolatiers, a special melting process called tempering not only creates the perfect mirror surface, but also hardens chocolate to the point where it has a desirable snap when you bite into it. Watch this easy-to-follow tutorial to learn more about tempering your chocolate.

At CAB Foods we specialise in all the sweet things in life, including all the tools, moulds and chocolate you need to become a confident home chocolatier. Visit any of our five stores or shop online to stock up on all your baking and catering essentials at super affordable prices.

 

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