Cooking With Chocolate – Dos And Don’ts
Chocolate… it’s available in many forms and for all the sweet tooths out there, nothing beats a decadent dessert that has chocolate oozing out of it.
However, while we may know how to eat them, not all of us are aware of how to work with them in the kitchen. Simply put, the process of baking and decorating with chocolate can be tricky!
What’s more, given that chocolate is primarily a suspension of cocoa solids, it’s essential for you to be extra careful especially when heating it.
That said, if you’re new to the world of baking and haven’t really worked with chocolate before, then you’ve landed on the right place. In this article, we’ve covered the basic dos and don’ts that you need to be aware of.
Let’s dive in!
Dos of Cooking with Chocolate
1. Do – Finely Chop the Chocolates
Yes, you read that right!
When it comes to cooking with chocolates, it’s important to finely chop them first and then heat in a pan.
For the heating process though, ensure that you’re placing the chopped pieces of chocolate in a bowl and then over a saucepan of simmering water. Or else, you could also place them in the microwave for short bursts of 30 seconds at nearly 50% power. While at it, make sure you’re stirring the mixture occasionally.
By following this step, you can melt all the chocolate pieces evenly and then lower the heat to ensure it doesn’t burn.
2. Do – Use Quality White Chocolate
If you’re planning to bake or cook with white chocolate, make sure you’re spending a little more and purchasing from a good quality brand.
While doing so, check all the main ingredients in it and ensure it contains pure vanilla, sugar, milk and more importantly, cocoa butter (fat that’s extracted from cocoa beans). These are all extremely important, as that’s what helps give the sweet treats a melt-in-your-mouth texture.
3. Do – Check the Cacao Percentage
Again, the cacao percentage in a chocolate bar can help determine the texture of your dessert; it tells you exactly how much cocoa beans (including cocoa butter and chocolate liquor) is used to make the chocolate.
Moreover, the percentage of cacao also helps you understand the amount of sugar, milk, emulsifiers and other flavourings used in the bar.
Pro Tip: Avoid using chocolates with over 60% of cacao to make a ganache; this will only cause the cream in it to separate from the chocolate, ruining all your efforts.
4. Do – Treat Your Chocolate with Extreme Care
Chocolates are not a fan of high heat, meaning it’s important that you melt them using gentle heat.
One way to not let too much heat reach your chocolate, is to keep a check on your bowl. Put simply, if your bowl becomes too hot to touch, it means you’re overheating your chocolate and if that happens, your smooth, glossy texture can turn into a crumbly mess.
To avoid that from happening, ensure you’re following the double boiler melting process (see the first point again!).
5. Do – Purchase Sustainably Sourced Chocolates
While cocoa farmers are the ones who produce sustainable cocoa, they don’t really earn much.
This means, when you purchase the best quality chocolate that’s made from sustainably sourced cocoa, you’re not only using the finest products to make your dessert but also contributing towards the living standards of the farmers.
Don’ts of Cooking with Chocolate
1. Don’t – Use Melted Chocolate Chips for Your Dessert
If you’re planning to add melted chocolate on any of your desserts, make sure you aren’t using chocolate chips for it.
This is because chocolate chips often come with stabilisers in them and that’s what enables them to hold their shape for a long time. Moreover, these stabilisers can give your melted chocolate a lumpy texture.
2. Don’t – Ignore Chocolates Covered In White Dust
People often avoid using chocolates for desserts that seem like they were covered in white dust.
Well, that’s nothing but cocoa butter collected on the surface which usually happens when the chocolate gets too warm. This additional coating doesn’t ruin its flavour nor make it unsafe to consume.
So, the bottom line is you could use these chocolates without any kind of hesitation.
3. Don’t – Think Every Artisanal Made Chocolate is of Good Quality
A lot of chocolates aren’t produced to re-melt and some of them are not even supposed to be used in recipes. This is because they don’t yield the maximum flavour and could end up changing the complete texture of your dessert or bake.
In a Nutshell…
It doesn’t matter whether you’re an amateur or professional chocolatier, it’s important to keep these dos and don’ts in mind to avoid ruining your desserts and more importantly, your time and hard work.
Simply follow the points mentioned above and you’ll be good to go with your dessert preparation!