Friday 14 March 2014

Oh Chocolate. You and Your Temper!


Do you know those people? You know THOSE PEOPLE! Who say they don't like...*whispers* chocolate. I know. Well, I was one of those people! It hurts me to type those words, but it is true.

I thought if I told myself I hated it, I would believe. But then...I met someone. Someone dark, velvety and full of aromatic deliciousness. Lindt 70% dark chocolate. 

He was strong and powerful...but then, I met 80. And 90! And I was so far gone down the chocolate rabbit hole! I am clearly getting carried away. The point is--I will never forsake chocolate or take its name in vain again. 

Easter is coming up and I think making your own treats would be a lot of fun. I have seen egg and bunny molds all over the place! Check Wal-Mart, Target, Bulk Barn and even the dollar store! Yep. I saw SILICONE MOLDS there. And they are just as cute as my Wilton ones. Remember--you can use plastic or silicone! But the plastic ones are a bit easier to use and clean (in my opinion).

This post is brought to you by the letter C. And inspired by these cuties:

Mock-olate Decorations for Cupcakes!

You may remember them from such posts as Cookie Dough Cupcakes, Shamrock Cupcakes AND...Okay, no. Only those two. Anyways this post has a couple goals: First, to talk about the difference between 'fake' and 'real' chocolate. I call it mock-olate because I think I'm super hilarious. Second is to talk about chocolate tempering and the purpose of it.

Keep reading for pictures and tips!

Mock-olate, What it Do and Can I Haz it?

Mercken's Chocolate Wafers

When I say 'fake' I mean it is not 100% chocolate as we know it. It was other ingredients which make it easier to melt and use than conventional milk or dark chocolate. It has a higher sugar content and other additives and tends to be more forgiving. These are also sold under the name 'Candy Melts' by Wilton and are great for cake pops, truffles, chocolate decorations, etc. For references sake, the coloured varieties taste like white chocolate unless flavoured (Wilton does sell flavoured ones, seasonally). 

Here are some of my mock-olates from my Valentines Day treat boxes!

I used a plastic mold for this one!

I used a silicone cake mold for these giant chocolate hearts! You can't tell but they are two toned ;)

X's and O's

Remember my shamrocks!?

Temper, Temper!

There are three types of chocolate: dark chocolate, milk chocolate and white chocolate.

'Real' dark chocolate is a mixture of the cocoa solids and cocoa butter. It contains less of the sugars and flavours of milk chocolate.Hence its reputation has the 'healthier' chocolate thanks to bioflavanoids and low sugar content. Healthier = healthy = give me TEN PLEASE! It has to be heated in a specific way or else the 'snap' and durability of the chocolate is compromised as a result of the uneven distribution of fat molecules in the chocolate.

 Heating dark chocolate is a delicate process because if you heat it too high without cooling it down quickly (the process of tempering) your chocolate can scorch, or your chocolate fats may separate and not recombine leaving chocolate that wilts or softens easily. If you see my dark chocolates below, there is a milky  texture running throughout--this is a result of the fat being separate. Still taste great though! 

Milk chocolate is more forgiving, has a creamier texture and is sweeter. While easier to melt, this chocolate should also be tempered carefully.

White chocolate is the least healthy of the three due to the added cocoa butter, cream and sugar. It melts the fastest so when heating white chocolate don't heat it for as long!

What You Need To Know

  • If you are a beginner, just doing random decorations or cake pops--I suggest the Candy Melts or chocolate wafers. It is a lot more forgiving and comes in so many fun colours and flavours!
  • For the mock-olate-- if using a glass bowl to heat in, be aware that glass retains heat! Plastic has less heat retention but for obvious reasons may not be safe at high heats (depends on what you prefer!)
  • Melt your mock-olate slowly! 30 seconds at a time depending on how big your batch is. 
  • Once melted, let it cool slightly before using it! You can do this by adding a small amount of cold, unmelted chocolate to your melted chocolate to bring down the temperature. This is also true for tempering 'real' chocolate!
  • For decorating, put the mock-olate in a piping or plastic bag, snip off the tip and pipe away your shapes onto parchment paper *like I did for my shamrocks here*
  • Pop them into the fridge to set them and you are good to go! You can lift them off the parchment and put them in cupcakes or on cakes. 
  • Chocolate retracts when cooled. This will help you know when its ready, as well. It should just fall out of your molds. 
  • You can buy candy colouring at cake and craft stores to colour your candy melts. Do not use regular food colouring! 
On 'Real' Chocolate 

  • I am still experimenting on how to temper properly..but you will need a double boiler (I make one using a sauce pan and a large heat-safe bowl)
  • Slower is better! 
  • Reserve cold chocolate on the side to stir into your melted chocolate to bring the temperature down
  • Here is a great video that can be used both for real chocolate and the wafers! I have also seen chocolate gurus grate the chocolate before melting (if you are melting down a large bar, for example)
  • Tempered chocolate is also great for decorations, molds and ganache! Mmm...ganache!

I hope this helps you if you wanted to know more about chocolate decorations! Don't stress. If you love chocolate than you must bear with it even when it's lost its temper ;)!

Happy Chocolate-Dipping and Decorating!


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