Ten essential chocolate making tips for beginners by Rhia Chohan ~ chocolate desserts recipes | Healthy chocolate recipes | Raspberry angel cakes

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Ten essential chocolate making tips for beginners by Rhia Chohan

Despite our nation�s love of giving and eating chocolates, not enough of us attempt to make our own. Maybe we feel nervous at the thought of creating something as delicate as a truffle and would rather leave it to the professionals. Maybe we feel more comfortable cooking traditional British grub like a stew, where all that you have to worry about is throwing in all your ingredients and leaving it to simmer for a couple of hours!

But making beautiful chocolates is not as difficult as we think. Take note of these tips and you could be making your very own chocolate gifts - that is, if you can bear to give them away.

1. Don�t overheat chocolate

Melting chocolate is one of the fundamental processes of chocolate making. Heating up chocolate will melt it � simple. Well, the process is indeed simple, but popping it in a saucepan on the hob can overcook the chocolate and cause it to split, leaving a grainy, unusable mess. So be patient � take it slowly!

2. Melt your chocolate over water

The best way to melt chocolate is in a bain-marie � that�s French chef talk for a water bath. You simply suspend a heatproof bowl full of your broken chocolate pieces over a pan of water that has been brought to the boil and then turned down to a low heat. To be extra safe, you can take the pan off the hob altogether and melt the chocolate slowly using the residual heat. Never let the water come into any contact with the chocolate, and keep stirring to a minimum to avoid air bubbles.

3. Take it with a pinch of salt

It may seem like a strange thing to do, but adding a tiny pinch of salt to your melted chocolate makes it taste even more chocolatey! If you really want to warm people up you could even carry out the old Aztec custom of adding a pinch of chilli.

4. Work with good chocolate

Working with a good quality chocolate will make all the difference. A good quality dark chocolate is usually considered as having over 70% cocoa solids. Lower quality chocolate is usually filled out with vegetable oils and shortenings, sometimes even going through the process of hydrogenation to resemble the melting quality of cocoa butter.

5. Spice up your truffles

Truffles are made by spooning a cooled, set mixture of double cream and chocolate (better known as ganache) and rolling them individually in cocoa powder. Jazz them up by adding a splash of your favourite liqueur, rolling your truffles in finely-chopped roasted hazelnut, or even setting them in a tempered chocolate coating.

6. Making your chocolates look pretty

A dusting of cocoa powder can always give your chocolates that professional look, but you can also turn to white chocolate. White is technically not real chocolate, as it doesn�t contain cocoa solids, but is made up of cocoa butter and milk solids. It is, however, delicious and will make a decorative contrast to dark chocolates, drizzled over in thin strands.

7. Colouring chocolate

To get coloured chocolate you need to add colouring to white chocolate. But be sure not to use the food colouring you find in the supermarket, as it contains water and will cause your chocolate to split. Use powdered colours instead.

8. Presenting your chocolates

Truffles look lovely in individual cases that can be bought in kitchenware shops or online. They look like mini fairy cake cases and add that decadence to your finished treats. Popping them in pastel coloured boxes lined with contrasting tissue paper and finished with ribbon will give them that patisserie look.

9. Tempering chocolate

Tempering is heating chocolate, cooling it and then reheating it. The process gives it that satisfying snap and beautiful, glossy sheen which looks great on cake coverings and as an outer layer to other chocolates. It is probably one of the trickiest skills to master in chocolate making but will come with practice.

10. Go on a chocolate making workshop

To really understand the art and science of making chocolate, sign up to a chocolate making workshop. You�ll learn about its journey from cocoa bean to the chocolate bar we all know and love. These workshops make for great hen parties, stag dos or an alternative birthday outing with friends. Sampling the goods will be compulsory and you can take away skills that will impress your friends and family, guaranteeing you the first place on their dinner party guest lists.

About the Author

Adventure Connections is a professional events management company specialising in stag and hen parties and weekends, and corporate events.




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