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Learn about Chocolate
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A Chocolate Primer & Garnishes

Types Of Chocolate

Unsweetened Chocolate Squares

Does not contain sugar or flavorings and is made from chocolate liquor.

Semisweet Chocolate Pieces

Contains unsweetened chocolate liquor that has been blended with sugar, cocoa butter and flavorings.

Sweet Cooking Chocolate

Is a special blend of chocolate with sugar and cocoa butter. It's most popular use has been for German Chocolate Cakes or Fudge.

Dark Chocolate

Is cocoa blended with sugar, vegetable oil and flavorings. During baking pieces will soften slightly but still hold their shape.

Milk Chocolate

Is chocolate liquor combined with extra cocoa butter, milk or cream, sugar and flavorings.


Pre-Melted Unsweetened Baking Chocolate

Is a blend of chocolate and vegetable oil that has been pre-melted. It is semi-liquid so you can use it without melting or measuring.

Unsweetened Cocoa

Cocoa is chocolate liquor with much of the cocoa butter removed, creating a fine powder. It can pick up moisture and odors from other products, so you should keep cocoa in a cool, dry place, tightly covered. There are several kinds of cocoa:  Low-fat cocoa has the most fat removed. It typically has less than ten percent cocoa butter remaining. Medium-fat cocoa has anywhere from ten to twenty-two percent cocoa butter in it. Drinking or Breakfast cocoa has over twenty-two percent left in it. This is the cocoa used in chocolate milk powders like Nestle's Quik. Dutch process cocoa is cocoa which has been specially processed to neutralize the natural acids in the chocolate. It is slightly darker and has a much different taste than regular cocoa.


White Chocolate

White chocolate is somewhat of a misnomer. In the United States, in order to be legally called 'chocolate' a product must contain cocoa solids. White chocolate does not contain these solids, which leaves it a smooth ivory or beige color. Real white chocolate is primarily cocoa butter, sugar, milk and vanilla. There are some products on the market that call themselves white chocolate, but are made with vegetable oils instead of cocoa butter. Check the label to avoid these cheap imitations. White chocolate is the most fragile form of chocolate; pay close attention to it while heating or melting it.





How to Melt Chocolate

Chocolate scorches easily, so you want to melt chocolate over hot - not boiling - water or in the microwave. However, for either nuking or using a double boiler, it's not a bad idea to break up the chocolate into little pieces. For a double boiler be careful not to have the water boiling or touching the bottom of the upper vessel. Be patient. Dark chocolate can be taken up to about 115F and milk chocolate can be taken up to 110F.

Once you've gotten a complete melt, letting the chocolate cool slowly while stirring it or working it will encourage the cocoa butter to arrange itself in a way that is particularly useful for making candy. This is 'tempering' the chocolate. One method of tempering is to add a small amount of unmelted chocolate to the melted  chocolate and stir it in.

If your chocolate gets to hot, it will cause the chocolate to get a white, filmy residue on the surface of your chocolate. This is called "bloom". It won't effect the taste, only the way it looks.

If you are going to be working with a lot of chocolate you may want to look at the tabletop tempering machines available now. I got one for Christmas and I can attest that it is really wonderful.


Chocolate Garnishes

Chocolate Curls

Have a chunk of chocolate at room temperature. Use a dry vegetable peeler. Draw the peeler along the smooth edge of the chocolate. Use a toothpick to pick up the curls to keep them from breaking.

Grated Chocolate

Have the chocolate cool and firm. Grate on a hand grater, cleaning the grater often. (use a dry cloth, not water)


Chocolate Leaves

Select leaves such as rose, holly or mint. Wash the leaves and pat dry with a paper towel. Melt 1 or 2 squares semisweet chocolate and let cool slightly. Using a small spatula spread a thin layer of chocolate on the back side of each leaf. Freeze until firm, about 10 minutes. Peel the leaf carefully away. Chill until ready to use.

Chocolate Cut Outs

Melt 6 oz. semisweet chocolate, cool slightly. Line a cookie sheet with aluminum foil. Pour the chocolate on the foil and gently shake until chocolate is about 1/8 inch thick. Let stand until partially set. Press a cookie cutter halfway through the chocolate to outline shapes. When the chocolate hardens, use cutter again and press down firmly.

Chocolate Dipped Fruits

Make sure fruit is completely dry before dipping. Grasp the fruit by the stem and dip into melted chocolate. Lay fruit on wax paper to harden. You can put fruit in the refrigerator for 10 minutes, but do not leave it there or it will loose its shine.



Spiderweb Design on Top of a Cake

First frost a 2 or 3 layer cake with your favorite white frosting. Melt 2 oz. semisweet chocolate and let cool slightly. Spoon the chocolate into a pastry bag or a plastic bag with the tip cut off. Make 5 or 6 circles around the top of the cake. Immediately pull the dull edge of the knife across the chocolate circles from the center to the outside 8 to 10 times.

Chocolate Decorations

Draw out the design you want to use on a sheet of paper. Lay a piece of wax paper on top of the design. With melted chocolate in a pastry bag, outline the design with the chocolate. Refrigerate to harden. Use some of the sample designs or make your own!




1 oz. square unsweetened chocolate = 3 T. unsweetened cocoa and 1 T. shortening


6 oz. package semisweet morsels = 6 T. unsweetened cocoa, 1/4 C. sugar and 1/4 C. shortening
4 oz. bar sweet baking chocolate = 1/4 C. unsweetened cocoa, 1/3 C. sugar and 3 T. shortening

Storing Chocolate

Store chocolate tightly wrapped in a cool, dry place or refrigerated. If refrigerated, let warm to room temperature before using.

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