Over the years, you’ll have developed some sort of technique to ensure your favourite chocolate dessert always tastes just the way you love it. Technique, whether it is simple or complicated, is the key to consistency and most of the time, it only takes a few attempts until you have mastered it.
If you love chocolate and you love to cook, my guess is that you have been tempted to expand your repertoire beyond brownies and chocolate chip cookies (not that there is anything wrong with them by the way) but the notion of tempering* alone would scare even the bravest of us away.
The 3 following techniques adapted from ‘Chocolat’ The Chocolate Bible by Le Cordon Bleu, a good digital thermomether and a few hours ahead of you are all you need to have a go at making your very own chocolate sweets and you never know, you might even have enough to hide around the house on Easter morning. If you feel like sharing, that is…
*To temper is to heat, cool and reheat chocolate to three precise temperatures, giving it a glossy, streak-free and crisp finish. It might take a few attempts to master this, but once you have, a whole world of chocolate will open up before your eyes…
Basic ganache recipe (easy and versatile)
1- Coarsely chop 300g dark chocolate and place in a large bowl.
2- Heat 300ml cream in a saucepan until simmering, and pour over the chocolate.
3- Stir the cream and chocolate until evenly combined. Continue stirring until the mixture has cooled and it smooth and glossy. Let the ganache rest at room temperature until it has a spreadable consistency.
Note: equal amounts of chocolate and cream are used to produce a creamy mixture suitable for filling, glazing or coating cakes. If the quantity of chocolate is increased, the ganache will become firmer – which is perfect for truffles and other sweets.
Tempering chocolate (you’ll need a digital thermometer)
1- Coarsely chop 200 g dark chocolate (couverture is the best) or the amount specified in your recipe. Place 2/3 of the chocolate in a bowl; melt over a bain-marie of gently simmering water. The bottom of the bowl should not touch the water or shine and smoothness may be lost.
2- Heat until temperature reaches 45°C on a cooking thermometer. Remove the bowl from the heat and stir in the remaining chocolate.
3- Stir occasionally until the temperature cools to 27°C, return the bowl to the bain-marie and reheat, stirring gently until the chocolate reaches 32°C. When the chocolate is smooth and shiny, it is ready to be used for chocolate curls or as a coating.
Note: Milk chocolate: melt to 45°C, cool to 26°C and reheat to 29°C. White chocolate: melt to 40°C, cool to 25°C and reheat to 28°C.
Coating sweets with chocolate (the perfect combination of the ganache and tempered chocolate)
Start by preparing a ganache, shape it into small balls and refrigerate until hardened.
1- Remove the ganache balls from the fridge and bring them to room temperature. Put unsweetened cocoa powder into a large flat high sided contained. Temper a sufficient quantity of chocolate to cover all the balls.
2- Slide a regular or chocolate fork under the ganache ball and dip the ball carefully into the tempered chocolate. Lift the ball up, letting the excess chocolate drip into the bowl. Gently shake the fork, wiping the base several times on the side of the bowl to remove the residual chocolate and obtain a smooth coating.
3- Using the fork, roll the chocolate in the cocoa powder. Set aside to firm at room temperature. When the chocolates have hardened, place in a sieve and shake gently to remove excess cocoa.
You can read our complete guide to chocolate here.
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